London Scottish v Bedford Blues
Bedford came up short away at London Scottish on Sunday as the hosts fought back to claim a 19-15 victory at the Richmond Athletic Ground. The IPA Championship clash didn’t produce the free flowing rugby expected in the glorious capital sunshine and the Blues were ultimately left to rue missed chances.
Despite scores through Patrick Tapley and Brendan Burke, plus a penalty and conversion from James Pritchard, the Exiles punished the Blues’ failed opportunities. James Buckland’s men registered three tries through Adam Kwasnicki, Sam Stuart and Mark Bright, and two conversions for Lee Millar.
Tony Fenner kicked off for Bedford and put the Exiles under some early pressure but it was the hosts who had the first chance, Millar came close to getting clear but he couldn’t quite catch a lobbed pass.
Mark Atkinson and Gregor Gillanders linked well as Bedford went forward, they were within five of getting over the whitewash but the Exiles did enough and Phil Boulton’s last pass found touch.
As Scottish regrouped, their lineouts looked good and were allowing scrum half Robert Shaw to set up plays, but Bedford were making their tackles and claiming ball.
Next, Atkinson looked to run in the first try of the afternoon but referee Martin Fox brought play back for a knock on.
Then the home side picked up a penalty from the next scrum, Millar however couldn’t find the target from the tee practically at halfway.
Passing was sloppy 20 minutes in from both sides but Scottish’s set piece was working well, Blues weren’t giving them any space and were forcing Buckland’s men back through the likes of Paul Tupai as he closed down a kick superbly.
A kicking game ensued but with 10 minutes left of the first half, Blues had a lineout in the Exiles’ 22 and upped it a gear.
Tupai gathered from the next ruck as Bedford pressed, Veenendaal and Burke got creative but they couldn’t find gaps although much hard work eventually resulted in a penalty for Bedford in front of the sticks, Pritchard couldn’t miss and put three points on the board.
As things resumed, Jim Thompson looked to threaten and reply for the Exiles as he ran half the pitch and found support to his right, Bedford scrambled though and Tapley gathered a loose ball.
Tapley caught the hosts by surprise and flew over for the first try, Pritchard converted to put Blues 10-0 up as the half concluded.
Millar resumed play but Bedford looked to keep up the momentum after the break, Veenedaal sent a nice grubber kick down the right for Tapley but it didn’t have the right bounce and Scottish gathered.
Much like the first half, kicking followed as both sides looked for territory, Scottish took play to Bedford’s half and just about managed their lineout, PJ Gidlow came close as he found space, Millar closer still.
Scottish kept up the pressure and turned a Blues scrum in their favour, they went to drive over as a unit.
That route didn’t work for the home team but not long later the Exiles got their desserts, after several phases hooker Kwasnicki barrelled over and Millar embellished to make it 10-7.
Blues looked to reply immediately through Atkinson and Tapley, they went about trying to clear tackles down the right and it was working.
Nic Auterac and Fenton-Wells were driving hard but it was Burke who grabbed Bedford’s second, he stepped past Millar superbly and had the strength to make the last few yards.
Pritchard couldn’t convert so the score stood 15-7 to Bedford.
The Exiles tried mauling their way back into the game, much to the appreciation of the crowd, and it paid dividends.
Sam Stuart touched down to reduce the Blues lead, Millar couldn’t add the extras but the hosts were within three.
With 10 left to play Bedford went looking for more to get clear but a mistake allowed Millar the chance to draw level from the tee, he was unfortunate to hit the post.
Then Fenton-Wells appeared to be struck in the head by one of the Scottish players, Blues didn’t get the decision though and things went from bad to worse as the game came to a close.
Scottish number eight Bright got the winner off the back of the scrum on 78 minutes, Millar converted and the hosts ran down the clock for a scrappy but deserved victory.
London Scottish: Jamie Kilbane, Adam Kwasnicki, Tomas Francis, Tyler Hotson, Dave Lyons, Neil Best, Matt Everard, Mark Bright (c), Robbie Shaw (Sam Stuart, 57), Dan Newton, Miles Mantella (Dante Mama, 31), PJ Gidlow (Andy Reay, 66), Lee Millar, Pete Homan, Jim Thompson. Not Used Replacements: Tedd Stagg, George Hunter, Lewis Thiede, Tommy Spinks. T: Adam Kwasnicki, Sam Stuart, Mark Bright. C: Lee Millar, 2
Bedford: Darren Fearn (Nic Auterac, 57), Charlie Clare, Phil Boulton (Ben Cooper, 57), Paul Tupai, Gregor Gillanders, Don Barrell, Joe Vandermolen (Sacha Harding, 67), Nick Fenton-Wells, Darryl Veenendaal, Tony Fenner, Ollie Dodge, Mark Atkinson, Brendan Burke (Jake Sharp, 77), Pat Tapley, James Pritchard (c). Not Used Replacements: TJ Harris, Tom Armes, Harry Peck. T: Pat Tapley, Brendan Burke. P: James Pritchard. C: James Pritchard
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding, Lionel Spooner