Bedford Blues have booked their place in the quarter-finals of the British and Irish Cup with a 45-34 win over the Scarlet Select XV but they were made to work very hard for the bonus point victory.

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Scores from Josh Buggea, Paul Tupai, Nick Fenton-Wells, Henry Staff, Sam Blanchet and Dean Adamson along with a penalty try secured the win but the Scarlets deserve full credit for their tenacious display which almost cost the Blues dearly.

Bedford found themselves 14-0 down within ten minutes as the visitors took full advantage of a sloppy start by the hosts. The game was just four minutes old when a penalty to Scarlets was sent deep into the Blues 22 and from the resulting lineout, flanker Stuart Worral drove over with Dan Jones adding the extras.

Jones was then on hand to double the visitors lead when he ran down Myles Dorrian’s attempted clearance kick before scooping in the ball and dotting down besides the posts before converting his own effort.

With the cobwebs shaken from their heads, Bedford started to put phases together but the final ball was knocked on too often allowing Scarlets off the hook. The Blues had to wait until the 19th minute to finally get the scoreboard rolling after Dorrian found touch with a penalty. Bedford took the ball forward before being brought to a halt with the line begging. Pete White found Tupai who in turn popped the ball to Buggea who hurled himself over to score with Dorrian adding the extras. The only downside was that Bedford lost Joel Conlon to injury in the build-up to the try with the number eight being replaced by Fenton-Wells.

Bedford levelled the game in the 24th minute when they reverted to the tried and tested driving maul. Another penalty went to touch before Harry Wells collected the lineout ball and the rest of the forwards piled in with Tupai dotting down from the back and Dorrian converting excellently.

There was a lengthy break in the game on the half hour mark when Scarlets prop Rhys Fawcett received lengthy treatment on the pitch after taking a knock. The loosehead had just split the Blues defence apart with a great break and released the support when he took the blow which ended his game early.

Scarlets capitalised immediately and ran in their third try of the afternoon shortly after the game restarted. Jones spotted winger Gavin Thomas in acres of space and sent a pin point kick straight into his arms for the score with the fly half then converting to make it 14-21 and that’s how it remained until half time.

Bedford were lucky that Scarlets didn’t extend their lead even further after Jones missed two penalty attempt in the 43rd and 46th minutes – the only real blots of the afternoon on the fly half’s copy book. 

The Blues, however, made no mistake when they were presented with an opportunity in the 48th minute. Scarlets were down to 14 men when their hooker Torin Myhill was binned when he pinned an onrushing Jordan Burns to the floor as the scrum half tried to recycle the ball. Bedford opted from a scrum with Burns and Dorrian linking well before Fenton-Wells came crashing through to score and Dorrian levelled the scores again.

But the draw was short lived as Jones judged Dorrian’s pass perfectly to pluck it out of the air and run under the posts in the 52nd minute before converting once again to make it 21-28.

Back the pendulum swung again though as the Blues scored the all important fourth try which secured the bonus point needed to progress to quarter-finals. Bedford had already powered the Scarlets pack off the ball to win a penalty five metres from the visitors line so it was only right that they did the same again leaving the referee no choice but to run under the posts giving Jake Sharp a simple two points.

Jones kicked two penalties in quick succession to give the Scarlets a slender six point lead, but Bedford responded in the 68th minute with a well worked try. The Blues made good yards along the right wing before the ball came back inside to Staff who galloped over the line with Sharp striking a fine conversion from the wing to put Bedford ahead for the first time in the game.

Bedford could smell blood and they wrapped up the win with two tries in the final five minutes. The Scarlets were trying to work their way up the pitch but they coughed up possession with Camilo Parilli-Ocampo making yards before giving the ball to Burns who raced away and used the supporting Sam Blanchet who went over for the unconverted try.

Adamson put the icing on the came with the final move of the game. Bedford looked to utilise their driving maul but the Scarlets defended it well. The ball was moved from the left wing over to the right before coming back with a big overlap. Four players were free, but Mike LE Bourgeois sent a looping pass to Adamson who scored a deserved try which ended the game.

Bedford move into the quarter finals of the British and Irish Cup and will have a home game against either Doncaster, Jersey, London Welsh or Moseley on the weekend of 11/12/13 March.

COME ON YOU BLUES!!!See more of Naigel Rudgard's match pictures by clicking HERE.

Next Home Match

Saturday 26th January
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road