Bedford Blues got back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon as they picked up a very important 13-15 win over Jersey Reds at Stade Santander International, but it should have been more.

The Blues had three good scoring chances deep in the Reds 22 during the game, but three times the home side pinched lineout ball and averted danger before chipping away at a narrow lead that Bedford had installed following a dreary first half.

Speaking after the game, injured player Will Hooley said: "It wasn't a classic and we weren't able to play the fast-flowing rugby that we like, but coming away from Jersey with four points was the important thing. 

"The second half was certainly an improvement on the first. Jersey put us under a huge amount of pressure and their kicking game was really good, but we fought hard and got the win, even if it was ugly!

"A lot of credit has to go to the forwards today as they soaked up a lot of pressure and worked hard to get us over the gain line. They really stuck at it. 

"Everyone knows how hard it is coming over to Jersey so we are delighted with the result and it puts us in a nice spot in this current block of games with one more to come before the British & Irish Cup."

The game was hugely attritional but Bedford had an early chance when a penalty allowed them to ping the ball into Jersey's 22, but the home side pinched it back in a sign of things to come throughout the afternoon.

Ten minutes in and Jersey took the lead when the always dangerous Brendan Cope slotted a drop goal while his side had a penalty advantage for a high tackle.

Both teams then cancelled one another out for the next 20 minutes. Jersey enjoyed the majority of territory and possession, but when Bedford had the ball in hand, the likes of Alex Penny, Tom Lindsay and Sean McCarthy were keen to carry while Mike Le Bourgeois, Jordan Burn, Chris Czekaj and Elliot Clements-Hill ran their hearts out throughout.

On the half hour mark, Bedford had a chance to level things up when a Jersey man was penalised for not using their arms in a tackle. Harry Sheppard stepped up and fired the ball over the uprights to make it three apiece.

Bedford had another opportunity with four minutes left in the half after Clements-Hill had shown some silky footwork in kicking the ball deep into the Jersey 22 and Bedford forced the man over the line to win a five metre penalty. Sadly, the Reds scrum wasn't going to budge and they picked up a penalty to snub out the attack.

Rockets may have been released by both coaching teams at the interval as the players returned in a much more determined mood.

Jersey won a penalty early on and sent the ball to touch but the Blues maul defence, led in no small part by Alex Rae, was solid with Ben Adams, Ed Taylor and Will Carrick-Smith all heavily involved in stopping the attack.

Bedford were still in their 22 when the opening try of the game came about. The Reds were on the attack before spilling the ball and the Blues went on the attack with Sheppard and Le Bourgeois linking before Dean Adamson turned on the boosters to break away before playing in former Red Rich Lane who crossed the line with Sheppard adding the extras.

Jersey's impressive forwards started to dominate the scrum to win a penalty and a bit of backchat saw the ref award an extra ten metres and Cope slotted the penalty to make it 6-10 in the 52nd minute.

Three minutes later, and Bedford had a great chance to score when a succession of penalties saw them preparing for a lineout and driving maul on Jersey's five metre line only for Matt Rogerson to pinch the ball. Bedford regrouped, won another penalty returned to the same place again only for Jerry Sexton to snaffle the ball which was then cleared.

In the 67th minute, it looked as if the missed chances could prove costly as the Reds made the most of their possession. A silly penalty allowed the ball to fly into the Blues 22 with Conor Joyce taking the lineout ball before the maul trundled over and Roy Godfrey dotted down with Cope converting well to make it 13-10.

The lead lasted only four minutes though as Bedford went back on the attack to score a crucial second try. A huge up and under wasn't dealt with by the Reds who knocked on, but the Blues pack were there to secure the ball and play the advantage before Lee Dickson played in Sheppard for the try which went unconverted.

It was a nervy finale to the game, but Bedford kept the ball in Jersey's half as much as possible and hunted a third try. Continuous infringements from the home side resulted in Nick Selway being yellow carded late on. Bedford pressed, but a knock on at the last minute resulted in a turnover, but the hosts just could build anything and the Blues held firm for the win.

Many thanks to Jacquie Ranieri for the images

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Friday 1st March
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road