Ulster A v Bedford Blues

Friday, 15 January, 2016 - 19:30
1st XV Cup
Won 17-22

Bedford Blues took a big step towards the British & Irish Cup quarter-final as they defeated Ulster A 17-22 at Deramore Park on Friday night.

On a freezing cold evening in Belfast and on a true quagmire of a pitch, Bedford racked up four tries through Phil Boulton, Dean Adamson, Henry Staff and Steffan Jones to secure a vital bonus point.

The hosts brightly and used an effective kicking game to try and pin the Blues back during the early exchanges but Bedford soaked up the pressure with the scrum putting in a huge shift five metres from their own line to win a penalty and clear the early danger.

Bedford got their name on the score sheet first in the 11th minute when Jake Sharp sent a penalty into touch deep in Ulster's 22 before a driving maul from the lineout - assisted by a few backs - trundled over the line with Phil Boulton coming up with the ball although Sharp couldn't add the extras.

Despite the Blues enjoying the majority of possession, Ulster's young guns were in determined mood and in the 26th minute they got their reward. A penalty went to touch and from the resulting lineout an attack formed which saw Jonny McPhillips send a long pass wide to winger Jacob Stockdale who showed great strength and pace to cross the whitewash with McPhillips adding the extras to make it 7-5

The Blues looked for a way back it in and Jordan Burns came close when he spotted a gap and turned on the afterburners with a quick penalty  just inside the Blues half, but he was dragged down short of the line.

It mattered not though as the Blues went ahead once again thanks to a well worked second try. Harry Wells made a great break down the left with support either side and the big lock looked outside to Adamson who danced his way infield brilliantly to score and Sharp converted.

Ulster continued to battle hard and McPhillips converted a 39th minute penalty to reduce the deficit to 10-12 at the break.

Bedford started the second half in fine form and extended their lead to 10-17 with another well worked try. Nick Fenton-Well was given plenty of space which he exploited brilliantly before popping the ball to Tom Griffiths who in turn fed Henry Staff to cross the line but the conversion went astray.

It was end to end stuff though and Ulster levelled the game in the 56th minute with an excellent try of their own. After a good spell of possession, Rodger McBurney made a line break before offloading to the supporting Sam Windsor who crossed with McPhillips chipping the conversion over to tie things up nicely.

Both teams were still fighting tooth and nail as the pitch continued to churn up and it is testament to both squads fitness that the high levels of intensity never wore off throughout this attritional competition.

After continuous Ulster attacks, Bedford worked the ball up the pitch and found themselves dominating another scrum in the hosts 22. The penalty went to touch but Ulster defending the resulting maul well before the backs were given the opportunity to attack which resulted in an overlap being created and Jones coming through to snatch the all important fourth try.

It wasn't the end though and Bedford's defence was called into action with minutes left in the clock when Ulster's powerful driving maul made a bee-line from outside the Blues 22 toward the try line. But the visitors reacted superbly with the likes of Justin Blanchet, Paul Tupai, Biyi Alo and Joel Conlon disrupting the attack before the blues turned the ball over to win a scrum and ultimately the game.

Bedford are back in action on Saturday 23rd January as Scarlets Select visit Goldington Road in the final Pool 2 game of the British and Irish Cup.


Next Home Match

Saturday 27th October
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road



See more pictures courtesy of Nigel Rudgard at