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Plymouth Albion v Bedford Blues
Bedford Blues rocked Brickfields as they claimed their first away win this season by beating hosts Plymouth Albion 27-16 in the Championship on Friday night.
The Blues made 11 changes to the side that came up short against Moseley last week and it paid off with tries from James Short, Mark Atkinson and Patrick Tapley
Paul Tupai captained the side and Michael Le Bourgeois took up kicking duty for the Blues with James Pritchard and Jake Sharp unavailable, as the Islander grabbed two penalties and converted all three tries in the match.
Plymouth earned their points through a Tom Bowen try, which Declan Cusack converted as well as kicking three further penalties.
A reasonable crowd braved the cold Friday night as Le Bourgeois got things under way and put the Blues on the board with a penalty two minutes in after Albion had made a mess of their scrum right in front of the posts.
The response from the home side was quick though, as shortly after there was some miscommunication in the Blues scrum and Cusack threaded through his penalty to put the sides level.
More issues in the Bedford scrum followed as Charlie Clare had a disagreement with opposite number Lloyd Fairbrother and the referee gave Cucask another opportunity which he nailed.
A bit of ping pong provided Albion with their first chance of a try, as Paul Rowley broke for Albion and dinked it over Le Bourgeois. There was uproar from the home crowd as the Jersey Islander appeared to trip him, but the referee waved it.
The next 20 minutes saw some good phases from the Blues, but the final ball wasn’t there. Ollie Dodge went closest to a try, but he fumbled a long pass from a great break started by Tapley.
The Blues’ defence did well during the first 30 minutes, but they let the hosts in right before the end of the half when Tom Bowen capitalised on Mark Atkinson’s loose pass inside the Blue 22 and touched down, with Cusack converting to Albion 13-3 up at the break.
The second half saw a great Bedford comeback, which started staight away as Nick Fenton-Wells took Albion’s kick-off well and showed his desire as he charged forward.
Le Bourgeois got the nod for a penalty just inside Albion’s half shortly after, and his difficult kick made it 13-6.
Le Bourgeois’ score kick-started some great phases for the Blues and in a speedy manner the ball found its way out to winger Short. The dual-registered Saracens man flew down the left wing, grubbered past Albion’s last man and impressively won the chase down to get the Blues right back in the game, with Le Bourgeois adding the extras.
Cusack managed a penalty in off the post, but Albion’s lead was brief, as Bedford upped it a gear. As the hosts lost concentration, Atkinson stole a poor pass and ran straight through the posts, with Le Bourgeois embellishing his score.
Plymouth tried to respond to going behind, but Bedford’s defence held firm against the pressure, as they decided attack was the best form of defence.
Atkinson went close to getting a second after the hour mark and, as the hosts struggled to scramble from the Blues onslaught, Tapley dived over for a well-earned score with 10 minutes to and LeBourgeois added the extras to put the Blues 11 points ahead.
Plymouth then threw everything they had at the Blues, pushing them right back to within five yards of their own line, but newcomer Matt Hankin proved the Blues’ answer. The dual-registered Saracens youngsters showed his potential all game and quelled an Albion lineout by picking up and storming half the pitch to see them back into their own half.
Again Albion tried to rally, but good hits from Fenton Wells and Ben Gulliver stopped anything developing as the Blues triumphed 27-16.
It was an all-round good performance by Bedford and a much needed shot of confidence, as they welcome leaders London Welsh to Goldington Road next weekend.
Albion: Dave Morton (Ben Rogers, 56), Gareth Evans, Lloyd Fairbrother (Max Crumpton, 52), Dan Williams, Len Ascroft-Leigh, Sean-Michael Stephen, Rob Langley, Rhys Oakley (C), Paul Rowley (Herbie Stupple, 56), Declan Cusack (James Shanahan, 65), Jack Arnott, Toby Howley-Berridge (Martin Rice, 58), Heath Stevens, Tom Bowen, Chris Elder (Ben Woods, 71). Replacements not used: Ruairi Cushion. T: Bowen. P: Cusack 3. C: Cusack.
Blues: Darren Fearn (Nico Steenkamp, 55), Charlie Clare, Ben Cooper (Phil Boulton, 55) Mike Howard (Tom Armes, 60) Paul Tupai (C), Tom Jubb (Ben Gulliver, 68), Matt Hankin, Nick Fenton-Wells, Luke Baldwin, Mark Atkinson, James Short, Ollie Dodge, Corey Hircock, (Brendan Burke, 50) Patrick Tapley, Mike Le Bourgeouis. Replacements not used: TJ Harris, Darryl Veenendaal. T: Short, Atkinson, Tapley. P: Le Bourgeois 2. C: Le Bourgeois 3.
Referee: Ian Tempest.
Assistant Referees: Phil Watters and Michael Patz.