Rotherham v Bedford Blues
Bedford Blues again lost by a point to a Yorkshire club as they were beaten 12-11 at Rotherham in their first British & Irish Cup Pool Three clash.
Four penalties from Juan Pablo Socina were Bedford’s undoing as they could only manage a try through Darren Fox, a penalty from James Pritchard and a drop-goal through Jake Sharp as they are still searching for their first win of the season.
The first half saw the Blues go for it despite the miserable weather. Mark Atkinson broke early and fed Michael Le Bourgeois who ripped right into Titans’ 22, but he couldn’t quite get over the whitewash.
Shortly after, Blues captain Pritchard had a punt at a penalty from 40 yards, but the conditions resulted in a miss.
Bedford were definitely looking stronger, however, as both teams looked to master the miserable conditions with different tactics.
With the Titans sensing the Blues were weaker in the scrum, they looked to press home their advantage at the set-piece.
Socino put the home side ahead on 10 minutes with an easy penalty after a very powerful scrum from the Titans.
Unfortunately Joe Vandermolen then went down for Bedford and was replaced by Paul Tupai, which didn’t help Bedford’s scrummage.
After a series of scrums, Bedford worked the lineouts instead to get them out the blocks, and a huge maul from the Blues, which even saw their backs pushing, led to Fox touching down for a real team effort.
Pritchard couldn’t make the conversion though and the Blues’ narrow lead didn’t last long as Rotherham were awarded another penalty on 20 minutes which Socino duly converted.
The next 10 minutes saw a good break from Darryl Veenedaal, but in truth the game was all over the place, with the conditions meaning that both teams put the ball into the air at every opportunity.
Nic Auterac came close to getting Bedford’s second try after a good steal, but a fine tackle by Dallan Murphy prevented the score.
A hard-fought first half proved to be a stop/start affair as Bedford trailed 6-5 at the interval.
There were no changes at the break as the Second half followed a similar fashion.
Le Bourgeois proved sound under Rotherham’s high kicks in the second half, but Socino moved the hosts further ahead five minutes into the second half with another penalty.
Shortly after, however, Bedford won turnover ball as Rotherham were penalised for coming in at the side and Pritchard narrowed the gap with his kick.
More lineout trouble followed for the Blues on 51 minutes as Laurence Pearce stole the throw, but his charge petered out as he knocked on. On 56 minutes, a Blues maul was pulled down by Titans, but Pritchard again struggled with the conditions with his wayward kick.
Bedford seemed to be struggling for direction until the instinctive Sharp popped up with an excellent drop-goal at the start of the last quarter to edge the Blues 11-9 in front.
However, their lead was again short-lived as Socino added another penalty two minutes later to put the Titans a single point ahead.
Curtis Wilson proceeded to steam into the Blues’ 22, but hit the buffers as Le Bourgeois came in with a huge hit to keep Bedford in it.
Socino then sliced a 45-yard penalty well wide with seven minutes to go much to the dismay of the home faithful.
A brilliant kick for touch from Sharp gave Bedford field position, but both he and Le Bourgeois saw drop-goal attempts miss the target as Rotherham held out for the narrowest of wins.
Titans: Michael Dias, Benjamin Sowrey, Mark Tampin (Richard Stout 74), Barney Maddison (C), Daniel Sanderson, Alistair Birch (Toby Freeman, 60), Jack Preece, Pearce Laurence (Alexander Rieder, 60), Daniel White, Dallan Murphy, Curtis Wilson, Juan Pablo Socino, Jack Roberts (Richard Hayes, 55), James Broadley, Michael Keating. Replacements not used: Thomas Crusoe, Toby Williams, Charles Mulchrone. P: Socino 4.
Blues: Nic Auterac (Darren Fearn, 58), Charlie Clare, Phil Boulton, Mike Howard, Ben Gulliver, Tom Armes (Sacha Harding, 52), Darren Fox, Joe Vandermolen (Paul Tupai, 14), Darryl Veenendaal (Luke Baldwin, 74), Jake Sharp, James Pritchard (C), Mark Atkinson, Sam Stanley, Ollie Dodge, Michael LeBourgeois. Replacements: Scott Spurling, Ben Cooper, Brendan Burke. T: Fox. P: Pritchard. DG: Sharp.
Referee: Craig Evans.
Assistant Referees: M Caton and M Patz.