Bedford Blues suffered an agonising defeat to high-flying Ealing Trailfinders as they went down 23-24 in front of a bumper 3401 fans at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon.

Bedford were in the ascendancy at the interval thanks to an 18-0 lead courtesy of tries from Mike Le Bourgeois and Dean Adamson with Harry Sheppard kicking eight points, but after the break the visitors regathered to cut the lead to 18-17 before Alex Rae crashed over to make it a six point game. Sadly, Ealing crossed for a converted score and there was to be no fireworks as a last-gasp drop goal attempt from Will Hooley pulled wide of the posts.

“It’s tough to take,” said Blues fly half Harry Sheppard at full-time. “We certainly righted some wrongs following last week’s display at London Scottish, but we should have won. We had a good, positive first half and took in a decent lead but we knew we had a huge challenge ahead of us. It was a case of a few chances here and there, penalties either side. It was just one of those games and we were on the wrong side of it.

“We knew that our defensive display wasn’t good enough last week and it is something that we worked hard on in training this week. It was a key focus, we knew if we could defend then the attack would look after itself.

“We knew the game and Ealing were there to be taken and that’s what makes it really tough. We back ourselves 100% and it doesn’t matter where a team is in the league. It’s the one that got away and we are disappointed about that. 

“We’ve got a week off, we’ll regroup and come back stronger in the British & Irish Cup. We want to win that competition to be honest and we need to put in a good display against Ospreys before welcoming Nottingham back here in front of a big crowd.”

Bedford started the game on the back foot as Ealing looked to smash their way through the Blues defence from the kick-off (they may have seen the video from last week) but the Blues held firm with Alex Rae ripping the ball clear and allowing Elliot Clements-Hill to kick clear.

The Blues soaked up what Ealing threw at them before taking over possession and making good ground through Ollie Dodge and Will Carrick-Smith before a dominant Blues scrum led to a penalty which Sheppard chipped over the uprights.

Ealing looked for an immediate response with Rayn Smid turning the ball over superbly in Bedford's 22 to set up an attack but a knock on brought the move to an end. Ealing continued to attack but another loose pass snubbed out any danger.

Bedford started to flex their muscles and a succession on penalties set up the opening score of the afternoon. Ealing's lineout maul defence was good, but Bedford soon spread the ball wide and after a couple of rucks, Lee Dickson played in Michael Le Bourgeois for a simple try which Sheppard converted superbly to make it 10-0.

The Blues defence continued to impress and their determination to snuff out the Ealing attack resulted in a second try. Ben Cooper pounced on the ball as it was dislodged before Sheppard released Jordan Onojaife down the left. The lock passed inside to Le Bourgeois but was on hand to reclaim the ball with the line in sight. Felled just short, Onojaife saw Dean Adamson steaming through and popped the ball to him to score an unconverted effort.

Three minutes later, and Sheppard made it 18-0 as he slotted a penalty from in front of the sticks much to the delight of the huge crowd.

Back came Ealing though and it was their turn to be awarded penalties which set up an attacking lineout but Onojaife wasn't having it and he leapt like a salmon to gather the ball which Clements-Hill put to touch. The lineout was still in the Blues 22, but it was same again as Onojaife reacted quickest and Clements-Hill found a great touch.

As the half came to an end, Ealing were awarded a very kickable penalty but went to touch five metres out. This time, Rae got his hand to it and although it was a knock on, it brought the half to an end.

Bedford may have wished that the half hadn’t ended such was their dominance and control of the opening 40. From the off, it was clear that Ealing were here to prove a point and they started to take over possession and used the Goldington Road slope to their advantage as they held onto the ball for a good chunk of the opening exchanges.

Phases and phases of attack followed but Bedford soaked it all up with the likes of Jack Nay, Sean McCarthy, Tom Lindsay and Jarad Williams smashing into the opposition. A penalty led to a touch found deep in Bedford’s 22 but again, that man Onojaife was on hand to bat the ball away. However, the Blues were carried over the line and from the resulting scrum, the ref awarded a penalty try.

Bedford were rattled and a soft penalty allowed Luke Daniels add three more points before scrum half Luke Carter nipped over with Daniels adding the extras to make it 18-17 in the 63rd minute.

The Blues took a collective intake of breathe and mobilised an attack when a scrum went their way in Ealing’s 22. Dodge made an excellent break with Jordan Burns in support, but as he offloaded to Ed Taylor, the ball was knocked away and Ealing secured possession.

A Bedford scrum in the 71st minute saw Burns and Will Hooley directing traffic with Camilo Parilli-Ocampo and Alex Penny crashing through before Rae darted clear and stretched over the line to score an unconverted try with eight minutes left on the clock.

Ealing went on the offensive and were soon awarded a penalty which Rory Clegg fired to touch. The lineout was collected and although the first drive was stopped, the Ealing pack regrouped and drove over with lock Barney Maddison claiming the score which Daniels converted to give his side a one point lead.

Bedford’s restart was short, but Ealing went for the ball and knocked on. The Blues started to put phase after phase together but a knock on allowed the visitors to punt clear. Back came Bedford deep into stoppage time with George Edgson, Josh Buggea and Dodge all battering their way forward with a series of pick and go attempts. The ball came out to Hooley and he went for the drop goal but there was to be frustration as his attempt pulled wide and Ealing celebrated their victory.

See more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures HERE.

Next Home Match

Friday 23rd August
1st XV Pre Season
Goldington Road