It may have been a defeat but there were a huge amount of positives to take from the performance as Bedford Blues went down 18-55 to European Champions Saracens at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon.

Playing down the slope, Bedford started the brighter side and immediately put pressure on the Saracens defence who coughed up a penalty which Will Hooley duly dispatched in the third minute.

Four minutes later and Bedford were pulling further ahead thanks to a well-worked try. With Lee Dickson directing traffic, Dean Adamson came off his wing to release Ben Adams who then showed delightful hands to offload to Howard Packman who ran in from 20 metres out to score an unconverted try.

Saracens started to come more and more into the game, but Bedford's defence in midfield was good with the likes of Alex Rae, Justin Blanchet and Jarad Williams all putting in big hits upfront while Mike Le Bourgeois and Ollie Dodge did the same in the backs.

A penalty in the 17th minute allowed Saracens to work their way back into the game as Schalk Brits found his pal Schalk Burger with the ball before coming to the back of the maul to fall over the line with Alex Lozowski converting.

Bedford's defence was quickly called into action once again as Saracens made a good break down the left with Alex Goode kicking forward but Packman managed to get back in time but was hauled into touch. The resulting lineout led to Saracens, and Brits, second try. Nick Isiekwe was found with the ball before the drive went on. Bedford did their best, but Brits broke and dotted down with Lozowski converting once again to make it 8-14.

Things didn't get any easier for the Blues as Saracens continued to pin them back. A penalty led to another lineout, which in turn led to another drive and the hat-trick try for Brits who always seems to enjoy his visits to Goldington Road.

But the Blues weren't going to roll over to the European Champions, and in the 29th minute they pulled the score back to 13-19 thanks to another Packman try. A Bedford penalty set the platform for a lineout and driving maul which was defended well by the visitors. A succession of pick and go attempts followed before the ball was spun out by Dickson through Hooley and onto Packman who went over from close range.

But Saracens would have the final score in the half and once again it came from the back of a maul. While Bedford dealt with the initial attack well, the spritely Richard Wigglesworth saw the game and hurtled through to score but Lozowski's conversion struck the upright with things ending 13-24.

Heading into the second half, both teams defences were called into action with Dom Morris - playing against his parent club - Ben Cooper and Ed Taylor all stopping attempted Sarries attacks.

A breakthrough came for the visitors in the 49th minute following a turnover. Saracens slowly inched their way forward before Juan Figallo crossed from close range with Lozowski making it 13-31.

Once again though, the Blues came back all guns firing and set up camp in the Saracens 22. A succession of penalties followed and any other day, Tim Wigglesworth may have shown a card or two. After going to touch, Tom Lindsay fed the lineout who established a solid looking maul with the hooker going over from the back to make it 18-31.

Sadly, the Blues coughed up a try soon afterwards with Mike Ellery latching onto a loose pass to score in the corner. A fine Rich Lane tackle prevented a sure Saracens try after Tom Griffiths broke up the middle, but little could be done to stop Jack Nay from scoring in the 71st minute when the victors spread the ball wide and he was played in by Scott Spurling.

Saracens then added two late scores through Griffiths and Ben Earl to complete a good run out for them with Max Malins converting both to make the final score 18-55.

Bedford take to the road next weekend as they head into London to face Blackheath in their final pre-season friendly ahead of the Championship campaign.


See more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures but clicking HERE.


Next Home Match

Wednesday 26th December
1st XV
Goldington Road