MATCH REPORT V LONDON SCOTTISH

Two games into the Greene King IPA Championship season and Bedford Blues are sitting pretty at the top of the table after they picked up another bonus point win thanks to a 44-26 victory over London Scottish.

While many may have been focussing on the return of former Blues to Goldington Road, Bedford set about the task at hand and once again secured a bonus point before the interval thanks to tries from Michael Le Bourgeois, Howard Packman, Lee Dickson and Rich Lane before Packman and debutant Jack Nay dotted down after the interval and Harry Sheppard kicked 14 points.

Speaking after the game, Blues second rower Ed Taylor said: “Like last week, it was a very fast start but I was really pleased with how we sustained the pressure in the opening exchanges and then kept on going. There are things that need improving, like our maul defence, but over-all we’re happy. We had a lot of the ball today which was great and when it came to defence, we backed our system and that got us through.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in both Championship matches so far as well as the three pre-season games and it has been really good fun. We’ve got a bigger pack this season who are very physical and it’s really helped the scrum out and our offensive maul. 

“We’ve got a big game against Ealing next weekend. We faced them four times last year and didn’t win any, so it’d be really nice to take this momentum and get one over them at their place.”

Heading down the slope in the opening half, Bedford came firing out of the blocks looking to make the most of home advantage only to give away a silly penalty for obstruction which Jake Sharp sent to touch. The Blues defence was solid though and a huge hit from Alex Rae forced a knock on but as the ball came out of the resulting scrum, Bedford knocked on and were on the back foot again but an attempted grubber was dealt with and the danger passed.

Bedford went on the attack with Le Bourgeois, Packman and Chris Czekaj all finding gaps in the London Scottish defence but as the Blues crept towards the Exiles 22, Sharp intercepted a pass intended for Dean Adamson and scampered up the field. Several passes followed, but Bedford regrouped and got back to deny a scoring opportunity and picked up a penalty.

With the ball delivered safely to touch, Bedford’s lineout functioned well and the backs were released again with Packman chipping and chasing after a great maul, but the move came to nothing.

Sharp had the first real opportunity to put points on the board when a penalty went to the Exiles, but his effort strayed wide of the posts. Bedford went straight on the attack with Taylor making a fine break before releasing his backs, but a superb covering tackle from Matt Williams on Rich Lane stopped a certain try. Sadly, Will Hooley picked up a knock in the process and had to be replaced by Harry Sheppard who faced his former side sooner than expected.

It looked as if the breakthrough had finally come when Camilo Parilli-Ocampo appeared to have crashed over the line, but the ref said that the ball wasn’t ground and a scrum followed. With the scrum failing to settle, the ref awarded a free kick which Jarad Williams took quick and attempted to dot down but he was illegally stopped so the resulting penalty went to touch. The pack once again secured the ball but when a series of pick and go attempts didn’t pay-off, the ball was spun to the backs with Le Bourgeois crashing over and Sheppard added the extras in the 23rd minute.

The Blues had found their rhythm and five minutes later they scored a wonderful second try. A Bedford scrum saw Williams break form the back before he handed the ball to Dickson who in turn played in Sheppard. The youngster showed excellent maturity to time his run, create space and then pop the ball to Adamson who hurtled towards the Scottish 22 before Czekaj offloaded to Packman for a fine score which went unconverted.

Bedford were in the ascendancy, but still had to defend well against the Exiles who looked to exploit the slightest gap. Tom Lindsay, Will Carrick-Smith and Ben Adams all made crunching tackles along the way but it mattered little though as the half drew to a close and Bedford scored twice more.

Having worked their way upfield, Bedford were knocking on the door with Parilli-Ocampo coming close before Dickson saw the slightest gap to dot down. On 40 minutes, Lane took in a pass from Le Bourgeois and showed a clean pair of heels to the Scottish defence as he blistered from the edge of the Blues 22 to score by the posts. Sheppard converted both to make it 26-0.

But Scottish were handed a slight reprieve as Bedford went in search of a fifth try before the break. More excellent work saw the Blues edge towards the Exiles 22, but Nick Scott read the play superbly to intercept a pass and run under the sticks giving Sharp a simple conversion to make it 26-7 at the break.

Bedford started the second period in positive fashion and extended their lead five minutes in when a huge forward attack allowed the ball to be played to the backs with Packman running in the score which went unconverted.

Back came Scottish though as they sent a penalty deep into the Blues 22 and then drove over from the lineout with Dan George emerging with the ball which Sharp slotted over the posts. Sheppard extended the Blues lead with a straight forward penalty in the 57th minute, but Scottish repeated their try-scoring feat with another push-over try as prop Phil Cringle flopped on the ball and Sharp converted once more to make it 34-21.

Changes aplenty took place and it was a Bedford replacement who scored the Blues final try. Jack Nay – who joined on dual registration from Saracens this week – took in a lineout ball and the Blues pack, which was strengthened further with the introductions of Alex Penny and Sean McCarthy, drove onwards but were stopped short. Pick and go’s followed before Nay crashed over and Sheppard converted to make it 41-21 before adding a second penalty in the 80th minute.

But the Exiles Braveheart spirit never diminished and they picked up a four try bonus point with the final attack of the game when captain Danny Kenny drove over from close range. Sharp’s conversion attempt struck the upright and the ref ended the game.

The Blues head to London next weekend for a tough challenge against last year’s beaten semi-finalists Ealing Trailfinders. It will also be a top of the table clash as both team have 100 per cent records backed up with try-bonus points. Expect tries!

COME ON YOU BLUES!!!

See more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures at http://frontrow.photium.com/

Next Home Match

Friday 24th November
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road
Kick-Off
7.45pm

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