Bedford Blues first Championship home game of 2017 ended in defeat as promotion chasing Doncaster Knights racked up a bonus point 22-40 win at Goldington Road.

The Blues did take a bonus point thanks to two tries from Dean Adamson and one a piece for Tom James and Pat Tapley but after going 0-19 down within nine minutes, it was always an uphill task to get back into the game.

Speaking at the full-time whistle, Blues fly half Myles Dorrian said: “We sat off them a bit too much in those opening ten minutes and it’s certainly not the way you intend to start the game, especially against a team like Doncaster. Fair play to them, they took their chances and played Goldington Road a bit better than we did.

“At half-time we, as players, had a frank discussion amongst ourselves and knew we had to do something to get back into the game. We got some chances in their 22 but we didn’t come away with as many points as we would have liked. If we had, we could have pushed them a bit further.

“We’ve got to get ourselves out of the rut that we are currently in and that starts at Richmond next weekend. We attacked well today so as long as we do that and sharpen up our defence, I’m sure that we can really take it to Richmond.”

The Goldington Road crowd had barely taken a sip of their drink when Doncaster went over for their first try of the afternoon. Having taken in the kick-off, the Knights charged onwards before Matt Clark sent a long – if somewhat forward looking – pass to Tyson Lewis who had a clear run in to score before Dougie Flockhart converted brilliantly from the touchline.

The Blues had barely caught their breath as the visitors scored a second try in the fifth minute. Paul Jarvis had already come close with a chip and chase, but a few phases on and Glen Young and Simon Humberstone linked up well to create space for Michael Hills to cross for an unconverted score.

Things didn’t improve for Bedford and on the Knights third foray into the Blues 22, they scored again. The Blues defence had stopped an attack but Jack Ram saw no one ahead of him at the ruck so he simply picked up the ball and crossed from close range with Flockhart adding the extras.

A shell-shocked Bedford brushed themselves down and sprung into life with Tom James and Myles Dorrian pulling the strings while Ollie Dodge crashed through and Michael Le Bourgeois tried to break the line, but Doncaster were smart to it and snuffed out any attack.

The Blues pack were doing all they could at the breakdown with Paul Tupai, Will Carrick-Smith, Justin Blanchet and Josh Buggea right in the thick of the action while Ben Cooper and Hayden Thompson-Stringer acted as battering rams following the first phase of attack but the defence couldn’t be broken. 

Both teams were cancelling one another out for long periods, but Doncaster sealed their try bonus point in the 34th minute with a well worked try. Having taken the ball in, the interlink play between the team was impressive and although Bedford stopped the initial attack, Richard List had enough in the tank to stretch over from close range much to the Blues annoyance as they felt they had been impeded in the build-up.

But Bedford finally got into the game almost from the restart and it was the impressive James who scored. Having turned the ball over, the scrum half spotted an opening and was able to jinx his way past Lewis to score but Dorrian’s conversion pulled wide.

Back came Doncaster though and they scored their fifth try two minutes later. Another fast break saw Flockhart hurtling down the right wing before looking up to see support so he cleverly chipped the ball over the try line and Michael Heaney landed on it with Flockhart converting to make it 5-31.

But the last word of the half was to go to Bedford as they crossed for a second time. The pack worked hard to set up an attacking platform before James spotted a gap and sent a perfect grubber kick through for Dean Adamson to run onto and touch the ball down under the posts with Dorrian adding the extras to make it 12-31 at the break.

The second half didn’t start with quite the bang that the first did and Bedford found themselves initially being pinned back by the Knights who smelt more tries. Tireless defence from the Blues pack saw a turnover and Perkins brought the crowd to life with a superb run from deep in the Blues 22 up to halfway before being hauled down.

Bedford continued to press and their perseverance paid off in the 57th minute when Pat Tapley went over for the score. Bedford had been piling on the pressure from a lineout drive which was illegally stopped before they opted for a scrum which gave the backs room to move and the ball came to Tapley who dotted down but Dorrian’s conversion fell just shy of the posts.

Bedford made five changes and maintained the momentum as they looked to find a way back into the game. Camilo Parilli-Ocampo and Chris Judge continued doing the damage in the front row with Dan George – who replaced Jacob Field in the first half – causing all sorts of problems. Byron Hodge picked up where Paul Tupai had left off while Jordan Burns and Jake Sharp added plenty of zip to the backline. 

In the 64th minute, Bedford reduced the deficit to 22-31 when Jason Hill – who would pick up the man of the match award – made an excellent break and showed an impressive turn of pace to gallop clear. With a single defender remaining, Hill unselfishly sent the ball to the supporting Adamson and he did the honours with Sharp slotting the conversion.

Unfortunately, there was to be no grand stand finish to the game. Doncaster tightened their belts and chipped over three penalties in the final ten minutes which saw Bedford playing with 14 men after Judge was sin-binned.

But for a poor start, who knows what may have happened. Bedford head to London next weekend to take on Richmond in what is sure to be a hotly contested game at the Athletic Ground.


See more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures HERE.