Cross Keys v Bedford Blues

Saturday, 6 December, 2014 - 15:00
1st XV B&I Cup
Won 10-48

Bedford avenged their agonising 23-22 British & Irish Cup defeat to Cross Keys at Goldington Road in October with a comprehensive bonus point victory at Pandy Park on Saturday afternoon – and with one game to go their faint hopes of qualifying for the quarter finals are just about alive, writes Bedfordshrie on Sunday

Mike Rayer’s men travelled to Wales knowing only an unlikely sequence of results would see them go through as one of the three best pool runners-up, and they did their part thanks to a fine display.

They were also thankful for group winners Doncaster Knights’ 31-30 win over Cornish Pirates – which came after the Yorkshire club had been 30-12 behind.

Pirates travel to Goldington Road for the final pool game next weekend in second place and Blues, in third, can leapfrog them with a victory. They would then be looking for results from the other four pools to see if they could progress to the last eight.

The hosts contained a number of young players from regional side Newport Gwent Dragons but, while the Blues looked coherent and slick, the Welsh side were disjointed and a distant second best.

Keys weren’t helped as well by the late withdrawal of their outside half Angus O’Brien, having to play scrum half Luc Jones at No 10.

But this was a decidedly one-sided affair which saw Bedford put the 2012 finalists to the sword.

A lively opening saw the hosts apply the early pressure, scrum half James Leadbeater missing an early penalty awarded after the visitors had infringed at the scrum.

Bedford could have taken the lead when good play by wing Pat Tapley saw him hack ahead, only to be just denied in the dead ball area.

It was the Welsh side who dominated the opening exchanges with great defence from Rayer’s side keeping them out as they piled on the pressure in their 22.

They were rewarded for their efforts when Leadbeater atoned for his earlier miss with a straightforward penalty to make it 3-0 after a quarter of an hour.

Bedford were falling foul of Irish referee Andrew Brace at the contact area, a stream of penalties preventing them from building momentum.

They did get a break after 20 minutes when a penalty went their way, captain and full back James Pritchard nailing the points to draw the sides level. Another Leadbeater error saw Bedford let off the hook when he missed touch from a penalty which would have given them excellent field position.

The Blues capitalised when they went up the other end of the field and scored a converted try when lock Harry Wells powered through a huge gap to touch down under the posts.

Things got far worse for Keys when their centre Jack Dixon was yellow carded for holding back a player as Bedford went in search of another try.

Skipper Pritchard, who wore the armband due to the injury to Nick Fenton-Wells, extended his side’s lead to 13-3 after 31 minutes when he slotted over his second penalty as they began to turn the screw.

The visitors then got away with a crooked throw at the lineout near halfway and the ball was spread to Tapley who scored a peach of a try just before the interval to press home their one-man advantage, Pritchard’s conversion making it 20-3.

With Bedford running riot, there was still time for Tapley to bag his second try, beautifully converted by Pritchard from near the touchline.

The Blues went into half time with a fully deserved 27-3 lead.

A cricket score looked on the cards but never materialised despite Bedford dominating a second half which remained scoreless until 15 minutes from time.

That was when the visitors’ number eight Hayden Thompson-Stringer crossed for a converted try from a driving lineout with Keys’ openside flanker and captain Scott Matthews and replacement hooker Darren Hughes in the sin bin.

They got a penalty try soon after before Jack Maynard bagged a consolation try for Keys which he also converted.

With two minutes left on the clock replacement Paul Tupai crossed to complete the rout with Bedford’s sixth converted try.

Next Home Match

Friday 24th November
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road
Kick-Off
7.45pm

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