Bedford Blues continued their preparations for the 2016/17 Championship season with a good run out against Saracens on Friday night.

The visitors may have taken the spoils with a 21-36 victory, but there was plenty for the Blues faithful to be excited about as Mike Rayer’s men ran in three tries against the Premiership and European Champions.

Pat Tapley, Sam James and Camilo Parilli-Ocampo were the men to cross the whitewash in front of 3050 fans while Saracens responded with a brace apiece for Mike Ellery and Schalk Brits while Henry Taylor and Nick Tompkins also dotted down.

Speaking after the game, try scoring prop Parilli-Ocampo said: “It was great tonight, we knew what to expect from Saracens so we focused very much on ourselves and it was a good run out. It makes things exciting for next week and then the season opener against Cornish Pirates.

“The squad is coming together really well. All the new lads have fitted in and play with the Bedford style already, so as long as that continues and we play with pride, I think the fans are going to be happy and we can all look forward to a good season ahead.”

 A packed Goldington Road was in fine voice and the Blues responded with some swift, flowing rugby which saw Jordan Burns, Jake Sharp and Tom Farrell linking up well but Dean Adamson couldn’t quite gather the ball.

Saracens began to assert themselves but the opening try of the game went Bedford’s way when Sharp intercepted a pass and headed down the slope pursued by the Saracens defence. As the tackle came in, Sharp offloaded smartly to the supporting Tapley who galloped over but sadly had to go off after dotting down. Sharp converted from the right and Bedford led 7-0.

The visitors began to flex their muscles and Ellery scored twice in nine minute firstly powering over from close range in the 20th minute before latching onto an Alex Lozowski cross field kick. Ben Spencer missed the first conversion but slotted the second to make it 7-12.

It was then the turn of skipper Schalk Brits to score twice with both seeing the hooker at the back of driving mauls with Spencer adding one set of extras to make it 7-24 at the break.

There were changes galore at the interval but Saracens started the second half as they finished the first. Henry Taylor was played through to score before Nick Tompkins rounded off an impressive attack which saw the Saracens backs linking up superbly. Lozowski added a conversion to make it 7-36 in the 55th minute and Bedford may have feared the worse.

But as we all know, the Blues are resilient and love a challenge – especially an uphill (literally) one. Josh Buggea, Will Carrick-Smith, Jason Hill and Ben Adams led the charge with Tom Whiteley and Myles Dorrian directing traffic well. There were oohs and ahhs along the way as drop balls and knock ons featured too often, but the Blues regrouped and started attacking with intent.

The pressure mounted with Saracens conceding penalties which Dorrian fired to touch and in the 72nd minute, a lineout catch and drive saw the pack, and several backs, pushing over the line with James coming up with ball and Dorrian converting superbly.

There was still time for one more try and again it came off a penalty and lineout. While the ball wasn’t gathered as cleanly, the Blues sent wave after wave of attack towards the Sarries try line before Parilli-Ocampo pounced with two minutes left and again Dorrian converted.

Saracens looked for one more score with time ticking down, but Bedford’s defence remained firm and there was a final opportunity for an attack from the Blues try line but it petered out on halfway and no one minded when Luke Pearce called time.

It may have been a loss, but there were plenty of positives as well as things to work on ahead of next week’s visit of Pontypridd followed by the season curtain-raiser against Cornish Pirates.


Next Home Match

Saturday 26th January
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road