Bedford Blues leap-frogged their opponents Nottingham into third place in the Greene King IPA Championship with an impressive 30-12 win under the Friday night lights.

A hat-trick for Chris Czekaj and a well-deserved penalty try for the pack ensured that a bonus point was in the bag, but the Blues were disappointed to concede two late tries which took the polish slightly off the win.

Nonetheless, Czekaj was in buoyant mood after the final whistle saying: “It’s been about ten years since I scored a hat-trick so it was great to get over the whitewash. I think that we controlled things from the off which was great as we’d talked about using territory and putting pressure on them which is exactly what we did.

“Our kicking game was really good tonight and we were clinical with our finishing but a large amount of that was down to our forwards who did some really hard work. They were awesome tonight. It was a bit disappointing to concede those two tries at the end, but we’d worked so hard over the previous 70 to 75 minutes that they couldn’t come back into it.

“I’m really enjoying playing at Goldington Road and at Bedford Blues. I haven’t enjoyed rugby like this for a long time. It’s a great atmosphere down here in front of the crowd and the boys are awesome too. It’s a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying my time here.”

Following an impeccably observed minute’s silence before kick-off, Bedford Blues came firing out of the blocks as they looked to gain an early advantage against the third placed team. Heading up the slope, Bedford moved the ball quickly and looked to put phases together. Catching the visitors off-guard, Lee Dickson pulled the strings with Bedford with Ben Adams, Ollie Dodge and Dean Adamson all making ground before a penalty followed and the ball went to touch. Nottingham defended the attack well though before clearing their lines.

But Bedford didn’t back off for long though and the game’s first try followed soon afterwards. Nottingham had scrum ball in their 22, but the pack went too quickly and conceded the free kick. Bedford moved fast with Dickson, Williams and Mike Le Bourgeois all involved before Chris Czekaj dotted down in the corner for the unconverted score.

From the restart, Bedford again looked to exert themselves and with Nottingham’s defence out of place, Will Hooley sent a kick deep into Nottingham’s 22. Adamson and Howard Packman chased and although Will Millett made it back in time, he could do nothing to stop himself being carried over the line and a scrum going Bedford’s way. It turned out to be a missed opportunity for the Blues though as the ball came down the line too strong for Dodge who knocked on and Nottingham were off the hook.

In the 13th minute Bedford had another attacking chance with a lineout in a good position. The maul set itself well, but a Nottingham man found himself in the right place to come through the middle, strip the ball and provide the chance for Tiff Eden to clear.

It took a good 20 minutes for Nottingham to put together any real string of phases, but when they did they looked to attack the flanks only to be denied by strong defence from the likes of Howard Packman, Alex Rae and Ed Taylor. The visitors had a great chance in the 24th minute with a five metre lineout, but again, solid defence brought the attack to a halt and Bedford’s determination saw the man wrapped up and a penalty going the Blues way.

Bedford sent the ball to touch then put together some fine running rugby to attack the Nottingham 22. Le Bourgeois wriggled through the defence with Dickson and Hooley linking up well but as Czekaj chipped the ball ahead for Adamson to chase, the winger was judged to be in front of the kicked. The ref was playing an advantage though, so Hooley slotted the penalty to make it 8-0.

Nottingham were struggling to contain the Blues attack and in the 37th minute, Bedford struck again. A penalty went to touch and the Blues pack did its job to secure the ball. Dickson fed the ball to Hooley who, knowing the ref was playing another advantage, saw Adamson in acres of space so punted the ball to him. The winger caught the ball and landed, but as Nottingham’s final defender came in to tackle, Adamson offloaded to Czekaj who scored with Hooley adding the extras.

Bedford continued to dominate and deep into stoppage they were almost over again as an attack headed down the right wing. Despite being caught a good 15 metres from the line, Le Bourgeois had the power to motor forward before going to ground just short. The support was there in Ben Cooper and George Edgson, but as a mob of players dived over the line, the ref said the ball wasn’t grounded and blew for a penalty. A lineout drive followed, but Nottingham held firm and the half time whistle rang out.

The second half started with just as much intensity as the first and the Blues struck early once again. Despite Nottingham being on the attack, Bedford turned it over and found ground before winning a penalty which went to touch. The Blues lineout was in fine form as Will Carrick-Smith, Alex Rae and Ed Taylor piled in with support from Sean McCarthy, Alex Penny and Edgson to get things moving. In came Ben Adams and Williams to drive on giving Nottingham little choice but to drag the maul down and giving Mr Harding little choice but to run under the posts and yellow card hooker Jimmy Stevens.

Bedford made the extra man count and secured the bonus point in the 49th minute. Bedford threw the ball around with great aplomb as Dickson, Hooley, Packman and Le Bourgeois danced across the pitch with Adamson and Dodge in support. The first phase of attack was stopped, but on went Bedford with Czekaj cruising over the line for his third of the game to make it 27-0.

In the 54th minute, Nottingham put together a magnificent passage of play which saw them battle from their 22 into the Blues but the final pass, which was a tough one, didn’t reach the intended target and Bedford regathered the ball.

Goldington Road almost erupted in the 59th minute when Williams went on a barn-storming run that saw him brushing opponents aside before putting in a superb chip into the Nottingham 22. Adamson came within a cat’s whisker of gathering the ball, but it sadly slipped away and denied Williams a phenomenal assist.

Bedford inched further ahead with a 63rd minute Hooley penalty and the Blues looked more than comfortable at 30-0 with plenty of changes afoot with one sadly being enforced after an injury to Packman who crumpled after giving chase to a smart chip over the top from Hooley.

Both teams seemed to tire in the final ten minutes but credit to Nottingham, they didn’t give up and replacement Josh Poullet went over the line in the 75th minute with Eden converting. Jordan Onojaife was yellow carded for a high tackle with two minutes remaining on the clock before Eden went over for an unconverted score, but it mattered not as Bedford saw out the game to seal the bonus point win.

The Blues head to Doncaster next weekend to take on the Knights at Castle Park. 


Next Home Match

Friday 23rd August
1st XV Pre Season
Goldington Road