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Cambridge v Bedford Blues
Bedford Blues rounded off their pre-season campaign with a dominant 77-5 win over Cambridge at Volac Park on Friday night.
Labelled as a training match, the game was split into four 20 minute quarters and the Blues crushed their lower league opponents.
Winger James Stephenson got himself a hat-trick in the first 40 minutes of the game and the away side racked up another eight tries on their way to victory.
The Blues took the lead as early as the fourth minute when Josh Bassett danced his way through the Cambridge before off-loading to Gregor Gillanders who touched down under the posts and Jake Sharp converted as the Blues made a lively start.
Sharp was involved again moments later when he sold the oncoming Cambridge defender a dummy before off-loading to Don Barrell who bagged himself a try. Sharp added the extras and by this stage Bedford were well in control.
Stephenson grabbed his first try of the game when he finished off full-back Ben Ransom’s powerful run through the Cambridge defence. Sharp could not convert from wide but the Blues were 19 points up in the first 20 minutes.
The Blues forwards then showed their strength in a maul as Neil Cochrane got the ball over the line after the Blues had won a Cambridge lineout, although Sharp missed the extras from a tight angle.
There was to be some relief for the home side as Jarrod Taylor intercepted a Sharp pass and surged towards the line before off-loading to fly-half Adam White who scored - but missed the following conversion.
Despite getting their first points on the board Cambridge found themselves even further behind when Stephenson rounded off a good passing move.
And the Blues winger grabbed himself a first half hat-trick when he wriggled his way through the
Cambridge backline and touched down in the corner.
Sharp missed his kick but the Blues went into the break with the score 34-5 in their favour.
The Blues made a host of changes at the start of the third quarter and scum half Luke Baldwin made the home side pay when he took a quick penalty and burst through for a try.
Sharp converted this time and by this stage the Blues were cruising to victory.
There was a sour moment for the Blues as hooker Chris Locke went off with a knee injury, but his replacement, Scott Spurling, was the next man over as he showed a clean pair of heels - leaving Sharp with an easy conversion in the process.
Mark Kohler got Blues’ ninth try of the game when he sprinted down the right wing leaving the Cambridge defence trailing in his wake.
Trialist Joe Vandermolen grabbed his second try in as many matches when he crossed over after the Blues had a scrum on the hosts’ five-metre line although, Ian Vass who was now on kicking duties, he could not convert.
Flanker Sacha Harding was the next man to put points on the board as he touched down after being played in by Heath Stevens.
The darkness was now beginning to descend on Volac Park, but there was still time for Stephenson to run in his fourth try of the match.
The tricky winger fought of off three challenges and showed great strength and determination as he crossed over, only for Vass’ kick to cannon back off the post.
The rout was completed when Ali Price spread the ball out wide to Kohler who in turn played in Bassett for the Blues final try of the match.
Vass sent the ball through the posts and that proved to be the last piece of action in an impressive Blues display.
Blues: Dan Seal, Neil Cochrane, Phil Boulton, Alex Rae, Ben Gulliver, Gregor Gillanders, Darren Fox, Don Barrell, Darryl Veenendaal, Jake Sharp, Josh Bassett, Heath Stevens, Brendan Burke, James Stephenson, Ben Ransom.
Replacements: Darren Fearn, Scott Spurling, Chris Locke, Ben Cooper, Mike Howard, Sacha Harding, Joe Vandermolen, Luke Baldwin, Ali Price, Ian Vass, Ollie Dodge, Mark Kohler.
T: Gillanders, Barrell, Stephenson 4, Cochrane, Baldwin, Spurling, Vandermolen, Kohler, Harding, Bassett. C: Sharp 4, Vass 2.
Cambridge: First 20: Tom Fidler, Ben Hunter, Chris Cutts, Ollie Marriott, Gareth Baxter, Gareth McComb, Ollie Watson, Steve Hipwell, Danny Hunter, Elliot Bale, James Ayrton, Will Carrington, Will Lawson, Albert Portsmouth, Mike Ayrton.
Second 20: Tom Fidler, Jarrod Taylor, Chris Cutts, Ollie Marriott, Matt Dunn, Gareth McComb, Ollie Watson, Steve Hipwell, Danny Hunter, Adam White, James Ayrton, Will Carrington, Will Lawson, John Hale, Mike Ayrton.
Third 20: Ben Cooper, James Palmer, Levan Stapelton, Matt Dunn, Gareth Baxter, Harry Robbins, Jarrod Taylor, Steve Hipwell, Ross Kevan, Elliot Bale, Reece Harry, Greg White, John Hale, Jordan Burgess, Johnny Sykes.
Fourth 20: Joe Winter, Ben Hunter, Jack Elbourne, Gareth Baxter, Ollie Marriot, Gareth McComb. George Elliot, Ollie Watson, Tom Dougherty, Adam White, Will Hague-Blundy, Andrew Jones, Albert Portsmouth, Chris Lord, Alex Kelsall.