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Bristol v Bedford Blues
Bedford Blues were again beaten on their travels as they went down to a 45-27 defeat against Bristol at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday afternoon. (With thanks to the Times & Citizen for the match report and John White Media for pictures)
Controversially the game finished with uncontested scrums, but four tries from Sam Stanley, Don Barrell, Darren Fox and Mark Atkinson did at least mean the Blues came away with a solitary bonus point.
But Bristol simply proved far too strong as they brushed over Bedford as they celebrated 125 years as a club on a fine Sunday afternoon.
Prop Richard Barrington made his first start for the Blues and did a good job after being brought in on an emergency loan from Saracens to aid Bedford’s injury problems in the front row.
The first half saw the home flex their muscles and show plenty of creativity, but their passing was all up in the air in the first 10 minutes.
However, they did get the break through when James Hall touched down on 12 minutes and Tristan Roberts converting.
Bristol then powered their way over again for their second try through Bryan Rennie and would have scored a third soon after but for Neville Edwards’ last-ditch tap tackle on the Bristol winger.
But the third try for Bristol did arrive on 31 minutes via George Watkins, who touched down again three minutes later, with Roberts converting one as Bristol surged into a 24-0 lead.
The visitors desperately needed to hit back before the interval and, when they won a penalty they wisely sent a kickable penalty to the corner.
A strong maul was stopped just short of the Bristol line and the ball was passed to Sam Stanley to spin his way around the Bristol defence and get the Blues off the mark, with James Pritchard doing the honours from the tee.
Bristol tried to quell Bedford’s fightback as they enjoyed a healthy 24-7 lead at the break.
The Blues made an explosive start to the second half as they seized the initiative.
Pritchard reduced the arrears with a penalty and Barrell then made the most of a Bedford scrum to get over the line and make it 24-15.
Bristol though showed renewed resolve with a try from Ryan Edwards, as Roberts again added the extras.
Unbowed, Bedford replied as Fox powered over and Pritchard’s conversion made it 31-22.
However, Bristol were not to be denied and once again pulled away with a second Edwards score, with Nicky Robinson this time converting.
Substitutions flowed for both sides and, with Bedford’s front row options exhausted, the game ended with uncontested scrums.
Free-scoring Bristol then sent substitute Mitch Eadie over for their seventh try five minutes from time and Robinson again did the honours as the hosts led 45-22.
But Bedford claimed a well-earned try-scoring bonus-point late on through Atkinson’s score.
Blues will be hoping to get their first win of the season against Rotherham next weekend.
Bristol: Mark Lilley (Rhys Lawrence, 66), Ollie Hayes, James Hall (Jason Hobson, 57), Ben Skirving (Glen Townson, 51), Mark Sorenson (c), Nick Koster, James Merriman (Mitch Eadie, 72), Marco Mama, Ruki Tipuna (Callum Braley, 78), Tristan Roberts (Nicky Robinson, 51), Ryan Edwards, Ben Mosses, Bryan Rennie (Andy Short, 59), George Watkins, Adam D’Arcy. T: James Hall, Bryan Rennie, George Watkins 2, Ryan Edwards 2, Mitch Eadie. C: Tristan Roberts 3, Nicky Robinson 2.
Blues: Richard Barrington (Darren Fearn, 57), Scott Spurling (Charlie Clare, 48), Phil Boulton (Ben Cooper, 65), Mike Howard, Paul Tupai (Ben Gulliver, 57), Tom Armes (Joe Vandermolen, 57), Darren Fox, Don Barrell, Darryl Veenendaal (Luke Baldwin, 48), Jake Sharp, Neville Edwards, Mark Atkinson, Sam Stanley, Corey Hircock (Michael LeBourgeois, 60), James Pritchard. T: Sam Stanley, Don Barrell, Darren Fox, Mark Atkinson, P: James Pritchard. C: James Pritchard 2.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth.
Assistant Referees: David Proctor and Michael Patz.
Fourth Official: Andy Weymouth.