The opening game of the Bedford v Bristol trilogy went the way of the visitors as they picked up a convincing 6-39 victory at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon.

Despite an impressive 3224 fans cramming into the ground, the Blues faithful had nothing more to cheer  than two first half Myles Dorrian penalties while Bristol, in contrast, ran in six tries during the encounter.

Things didn’t start brightly for the Blues and they were three points down when Callum Sheedy slotted a penalty. Sadly, James Pritchard’s afternoon was brought to a premature end with the fullback leaving the field with an arm injury.

Bristol enjoyed the majority of the ball and they went further ahead when David Lemi spotted a gap at the back of a ruck and dodged his way past the defence to score an unconverted effort in the 11th minute.

Bedford started to come more and more into the game with Ollie Dodge and Henry Staff working hard to make space and linking well with wingers George Perkins and Pat Tapley. The pressure started to build and Bristol gave away a series of penalties with Dorrian slotting one over the uprights in the 16th minute.

The pendulum swung back Bristol’s way and it was quite fortuitous when a long kick came off a Blues hand and gave the visitors a lineout deep in Bedford territory. The forwards secured the ball and then moved forward with Jack Lam dotting down to make it 3-13.

Bedford then started to make some gain with the pace of Jordan Burns proving pivotal while Alex Lundberg – who swapped his usual prop role to play at blindside flanker – had a storming game and was always willing to carry. Bristol again infringed and Bedford found touch before the visitors illegally disrupted a maul and Marc Jones was carded. Points were taken by Dorrian to make it 6-13.

The Blues looked comfortable and could have levelled the scores had it not been for loose hands. Another wave of attacks resulted in another yellow card for Bristol as Ben Glynn was binned. Bedford looked as if they were going for the corner, but Dorrian tapped and sent the ball inside and along the line but unfortunately it slipped out of Mike Howard’s grasp and Bristol cleared.

Bedford were in the ascendancy but another error allowed Bristol to turn the ball over and set up an attack. The ball went out wide before a grubber kick was sent towards Lemi but George Perkins got there first and hoofed it to touch. Bristol put the pressure on forced a penalty which went to touch and James Currie was carded for bringing down the following maul. Time was up, so Bristol opted for a scrum and following a few phases, Gaston Cortes stretched over the line to score and Sheedy converted to put the visitors 14 points ahead at the break. 

Bristol started the second half in fine fashion and stretched their lead further when a swift move was finished off by Ryan Edwards in the 47th minute.

Bedford returned to a full complement and new hooker Jacob Field made his debut but Edwards was to be the beneficiary once again as he strolled over in the 55th minute with Sheedy converting to make it 6-32.

The Blues continued to play attractive, running rugby but they just couldn’t find a way through the stubborn Bristol defence. Michael Le Bourgeois, Seb Nagle-Taylor and Nick Fenton-Wells all had surging runs but the visitors weren’t in the mood to let their lead slip.

Into the final quarter, the game sagged slightly with numerous changes being made by both sides and as the clock ticked down, Luke Arscott was played in form close range with Sheedy chipping the extras again to seal a 6-39 victory.

Not the greatest result in the world, but the prize on offer over the next two weekends will see a very different game at Goldington Road next Sunday.


See more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures HERE.

Next Home Match

Saturday 23rd March
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road