Saracens Academy v Bedford Blues Academy
The Blues Academy beat the Saracens Academy, at Allianz Park, on a misty winter evening by 19pts – 15. At 10pts - 0 down after 10 minutes it looked like a tough evening ahead for the Blues, however with a tough physical performance from the Bedford forwards, they fought back to be 10pts - 7 down at half time, and went on to a well deserved win by 19pts – 15 against the RFU funded Saracens Academy, coached by Don Barrell and Ian Vass.
Bedford started well with possession and territory but, taking their time to get used to the all-weather pitch, the Blues were unable to convert possession into scores. Saracens were first to score with a penalty after 5 minutes. This was followed five minutes later when a Blues clearance kick was charged down for Saracens to score a converted try under the posts to go 10 pts ahead after 10 minutes. Bedford fought back and were rewarded when great defence put the Sarries back line under pressure and Bedford fly half Scott Lyle intercepted a loose pass to race in from half way to score under the posts. He converted and Bedford narrowed the gap to 10pts – 7. The Saracens backline began to find its rhythm and, with the Bedford, and St. Joseph’s school Ipswich, fly half Dan Lewis on loan and playing full back for Saracens, they began to put Bedford under pressure.
Saracens came out after half time to start the half strongly. An interception try put them 15pts – 7 ahead after 5 minutes. Bedford hit back and worked a good field position. A solid Blues scrum on the 22 was rewarded when Bedford No 8, Joss Morgan, broke open and stormed over for a try under the posts; Lyle converted; 15pts – 14 to Saracens. Bedford began to take control with a fine performance from the pack, great defence from the whole side, and a series of close range lineout drives to pressurise Saracens. A penalty to Bedford at a 5m scrum was rewarded with a quick tap and go from scrum half Kieran Duffin; he was held up a meter short but made a neat offload to flanker Kennet O’Neill, who went over for the try in the corner. Saracens continued to push for the win, but the Blues held for 13 minutes of injury time to give them a well deserved win over their Premiership opponents.
Blues Academy Director Denis Ormesher said ... "We were very pleased with the performance. Our attacking play is still not working as it should but our defence was excellent, and the old cliche “defence wins games” was proven right again. The Saracens back line looked really sharp tonight, and I thought our defence was oustanding to hold them. The pack put on a tremendous display and established the platform for the win, and we were pleased with the way we controlled the game in the second half. Too often this season we have tended to panic and force things at the end of a game, but tonight the players showed real composure to control the game to get the win.”
“Getting a result against one of the RFU funded Premiership Academies is always tough with their resources and their ability to attract players. Whilst we had the slight advantage in age, with the Blues being about a year older on average than the Sarries squad, this was a great way to end before the Christmas break, and a real reward for the hard work put in by the players, coaches and physio team over the last few months.”
Bedford: Josh Pieterse, Josh Taylor, Connor Adams, Brad Scharff, Ben Patterson, Kennet O’Neill, Reece Lane, Joss Morgan; Kieran Duffin (capt), Scott Lyle; Keano van Dieman, Dylan van Dieman, George Elliott, Luke Hibberd; Cameron Gregory-Ring: Replacements: Joe Foreman, Garth Spencer, Hadyn King, Matt Norfolk-Clarke, Callum Austen, Hadyn Bevis-Knowles, Nick Pritchard, Dan Hope, Harry Chater, Max Titchener:
Photo: © BGRPHOTOGRAPHY Frank Ring