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MATCH REPORT AND HIGHLIGHTS V CONNACHT
Bedford Blues did their bit for the fans to ensure that everyone has a very Merry Christmas by running in seven tries during a 50-12 rout over Connacht Eagles in the British & Irish Cup.
James Short and Nick Fenton-Wells both crossed the line twice while Corey Hircock, Charlie Clare and Patrick Tapley all scored with James Pritchard and Jake Sharp sharing kicking duties hitting eight and seven points respectively.
The performance was far different from last weekend when the Blues were guilty of leaving too many points out on the field, as they opened the scoring in the 2nd minute and secured the bonus point after 30.
Short was the man at the end of the opening try which came about following a rapid start by the home side. Running from deep and throwing themselves into everything, the forwards got the ball to the backs and it was played through Sharp, Brendan Burke and Pritchard before Short was played in to score with Pritchard converting.
Pritchard and Jack Carty then exchanged missed penalties before there was concern for the Blues in the 18th minute when Mike Howard was forced off with injury and the second row will be assessed to see how long he will be out of action.
A second try was on the cards and it was Short who crossed the whitewash again. The backs put in a great break, but the Saracens man spotted a gap and found a way past three defenders to score and give Pritchard the easy extras to make it 14-0.
From the restart it was 21-0 as the ball was collected, played to the backs and then Hircock stepped on the gas to score next to the posts and Pritchard again converted.
The bonus point came in the 32nd minute with Sharp orchestrating the attack which resulted with Fenton-Wells dotting down and Pritchard making it four from four.
It may sound as if Connacht were being bowled over but it really wasn’t the case. They played a fast moving style of rugby and a superb cross field kick from Carty found centre Brian Murphy in acres of space to score with Carty adding the extras on the half time whistle.
Going down the slope, Bedford were keen to increase the score line but Connacht were stubborn to break down and maintained possession. Bedford dug in deep though and forced their way into the Eagles 22 before Clare picked up and drove over from close range in the 47th minute for an unconverted try.
Connacht rallied though and following a series of penalties, they sent the ball deep into the Blues 22. The lineout did its job well before the forwards piled into the maul and drove over the line with flanker Aaron Conneely coming up with the ball but the conversion went wide.
Bedford continued to press and after Sharp added a 59th minute penalty he was called into action again to convert Fenton-Wells try nine minutes later. The Blues had broke from their own half with some nice link up play but with Connacht covering well the ball came out to Nico Steenkamp who did his best to show a clean pair of heels to the covering defender. Despite being brought down in the Eagles 22, Bedford got the ball out to Sharp who played in Fenton-Wells who sold his man with a dummy and scored.
The icing on the cake came with the last play of the game and Tapley was the man to benefit from the odd-shaped ball. A Connacht pass hit the floor and Tapley instinctively kicked it on the half-volley before sprinting ahead and latching onto the ball to score with Sharp converting and making it 50-12.
Merry Christmas one and all!!!
For more pictures from today's game visit Nigel Rudgard's website by clicking here