MATCH REPORT V HARTPURY

Bedford Blues played their ‘get out of jail’ free card as they picked up a bonus point win over Hartpury in the Greene King IPA Championship on Saturday afternoon.

Leading 26-24 with time up on the clock, the Blues gave away a kickable penalty just inside their 22. Hartpury centre Sam Leeming stepped up, just as he had a few minutes earlier from an almost identical position to add extras from the fourth try for the visitors, but he pulled this attempt wide and handed the Blues the win.

“We’re delighted with the win,” said Blues lock Mark Flanagan at full-time. “We set ourselves a challenge with five games heading up to the free week and we’ve got four wins out of five. I think the lads really applied themselves over those five games and it is a massive boost for us as we head into the cup competition. The reset button has been hit, we have a new challenge ahead of us but we will enjoy the week off.”

Hartpury got the game off to a great start when Bedford failed to collect the kick off and coughed up a lineout then a penalty. The resulting lineout drive trundled over the line with James Stephenson dotting down but Luke Cozens conversion bounced off the upright, crossbar then fell the wrong side of the uprights.

Bedford were a little dazed form the early setback but soon started to go through the phases with Lee Dickson and Will Hooley linking well to direct traffic as Lewis Robling and Ed Coulson carried well and the pack was there in support.

The Blues got their reward in the tenth minute as another flowing move was started and finished by Dean Adamson. Having prevented a Hartpury kick, Adamson sent the ball inside to Rich Lane who made good ground before setting a ruck. Ben Cooper took the ball on before Dickson, Hooley and Coulson combined to play in Ryan Hutler who offloaded to Adamson, who had swapped wings, to speed in at the corner with Hooley adding a superb conversion.

Bedford didn’t learn from their earlier mistake though, and another penalty at the lineout - which resulted in Huw Worthington being yellow carded - saw the visitors kick to the corner once again. The lineout functioned well, the maul took shape and prop Dan Murphy went over to give Hartpury the lead as Cozens chipped the extras to make it 7-12.

Despite the weather worsening and the day getting a lot colder, Bedford continued to press the Hartpury defence, but they were matching the Blues at every opportunity. A turnover saw Jacob Fields scramble forward before a penalty soon followed, but Hooley’s effort pulled just wide of the posts.

The home side regathered quickly and went on the attack once more with a penalty being whacked into the corner. Will Carrick-Smith collected the ball and the maul set itself up but it couldn’t build any momentum. Lane and Hutler both crashed through but couldn’t get near the line, Robling came close with the next attempt but with the defence drawn to the ball, it went out to Adamson who dotted down for his second of the afternoon.

Three minutes later it looked like Adamson was going to round off a hat-trick as some slick hands saw him played clean through but the ref called a forward pass much to the displeasure of the home supporters.

Bedford were given a boost when Hartpury’s prop Rupert Harden was carded for a taking a man out in the lineout. Although Bedford didn’t capitalise from the lineout and the visitors were able to clear from a scrum, the third try did follow soon afterwards. The Blues backs were running everything and set up an attacking platform deep in Hartpury’s 22. Cooper, Worthington and Jarad Williams all had cracks at the line before Dickson popped the ball to Josh Buggea who went over from close range and Hooley added the extras to make it 19-12.

The second half started in spritely fashion with Bedford on the attack, but the increasingly greasy ball was becoming more and more difficult to hold and Bedford found themselves losing 30 metres as the ball went astray.

Hartpury’s defensive efforts were soon rewarded as they made ground then won a scrum in the Blues 22. Scrum half Richard Bolt popped the ball to fullback Mike Wilcox who had the vision to grub the ball through the smallest of gaps and it bounced perfectly for onrushing winger Ed Sheldon who got in just before Lane to score but Cozens conversion was wide of the mark.

The Blues started to empty the replacements bench with Tadgh McElroy, Gerard Ellis and Alex Penny forming a new front row while Oli Curry and Harry Davies were also called into action. However, it was Hartpury who went on to take the lead when Stephenson was driven over from the back of a maul in the 64th minute and Leeming slotted the extras to make it 19-24.

Bedford went straight on the attack amassing an amazing 30 phases of play before the ball was knocked on at the death. The home side didn’t back down though and as the game headed into the 76th minute, they crossed for a fourth try. Hooley sent the ball to touch from a penalty with McElroy finding his target in the lineout before being driven over for the score which Hooley converted to put Bedford’s noses in front.

A final hurrah from the Hartpury pack saw them pick up two penalties from scrums which were sent to touch, but Flanagan pinched the first then an overthrow was knocked on by a Blues hand. This resulted in the final scrum which in turn, resulted in a penalty but Leeming’s miss saw the full five points go the way of the Blues rather than the visitors.

Teams.

Bedford: Rich Lane, Ryan Hutler, Ed Coulson, Lewis Robling, Dean Adamson, Will Hooley, Lee Dickson (c); Sean McCarthy, Jacob Fields, Ben Cooper, Will Carrick-Smith, Mark Flanagan, Huw Worthington, Josh Buggea, Jarad Williams.

Replacements: Tadgh McElroy, Gerard Ellis,Alex Penny, Ed Taylor, Oli Curry, Alex Gliksten, Harry Davies.

Hartpury: Mike Wilcox, Ben Foley, Luke Eaves, Sam Leeming, Ed Sheldon, Luke Cozens, Richard Bolt; Dan Murphy, Will Tanner, Rupert Harden, Harry Casson, Simon Lisell (c), James Stephenson, Mat Gilbert, Tom Pashley.

Replacements: Luke Stratford, Mike Flook, Joe Morris, Angus Southon, Harry Wilson, Robbie Smith, HArry Cochrane.

See more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures HERE

Next Home Match

Friday 16th November
1st XV Cup
Goldington Road
Kick-Off
7.45pm

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