Bedford Blues v Doncaster Knights

Saturday, 13 October, 2018 - 15:00
1st XV Championship
Won 29-28

There was an enormous collective sigh of relief at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon as the Blues picked up a 29-28 win over Doncaster Knights.

Having led 17-0 at the break, the game headed into the 11th minute of stoppage time with just a solitary point separating the teams and the Knights on the attack. Solid defence finally saw the ball drop to the floor and Lewis Robling had the honour of tapping the ball into touch as the home fans erupted in applause.

It was one hell of a game and huge credit has to go to the visiting Knights who looked forlorn at the break, but regathered and provided an enthralling second half which nearly saw them come out on top.

But it was Bedford who sealed the five points and ensured that everyone at Goldington Road could enjoy all the festivities that the annual Ladies Day game brings with it.

“It was a massive win for us today,” said Blues prop Sean McCarthy at full time. “Doncaster are always tough, and it was a really big battle upfront but it keeps our season rolling on with a five-point win. We want to keep building up as many points as possible ahead of Christmas and that was a good one today.

“Donny have an old, wily pack and we spoke about the test that they were going to bring here during the week. There’s room for improvement but that’s why we have next week and we’ll now look forward to the challenge of Cornish Pirates.”

The game was only five minutes old when Bedford scored the opening try following a bull-like run from McCarthy who made his way from halfway into the Donny 22. Phases followed with the Pink & Greens moving forward before Lee Dickson spread the ball to his backs with Ed Coulson coming off his wing before Will Hooley sent a long pass to Robling who dummied the defence to score in the left corner. Hooley’s conversion was in the right direction but fell just under the crossbar.

Doncaster were gifted an attacking scrum shortly after the restart but following a flare-up at the first attempt, they went early on the second and Hooley was able to fire the freekick to safety. Donny’s lineout was a bit wonky and it led to a Blues scrum and a second try. The visitors turned on the pressure but Dickson got the ball away to Coulson who found Hooley whose even longer pass this time found Rich Lane who unselfishly offloaded to Dean Adamson for the unconverted try.

Bedford looked to be in control playing down the pitch, but Doncaster were stubborn in defence and weren’t allowing many gaps to appear in their line. The visitors built in stature moving the ball well and making their way into the Blues 22 following a penalty which went to touch, but Mark Flanagan disrupted the attack to relieve the pressure. Moments later the ball was punted clear by the Blues when the Donny attack fumbled the ball and Bedford scooped it in.

Oli Curry, Josh Buggea and Ben Cooper were causing all sorts of problems for the Doncaster defence as they threw themselves into everything with Jarad Williams and Ed Taylor in support. James Lennon, who replaced Dickson in the 21st minute due to injury, almost got his name on the scoresheet in the 30th minute when the ball came out the side of a Doncaster ruck. The scrum half pinned back his ears to hurtle down the pitch, but he was cut down just metres from the line with Donny turning over the ball and clearing.

Bedford were re-asserting themselves and it soon paid off with a third try. A mistake at the Doncaster lineout saw the ball overthrown and Charlie Clare making yards before Hooley pegged the visitors back with a smart kick. The lineout was stolen this time with McCarthy punching through the defence before pick-and-go rucks followed. With a penalty advantage, Hooley kicked over the top for Lane to collect and dot down before Hooley added the extras to make it 17-0 and that’s how it stayed until the break.

Fired up during the half-time interval, Doncaster came out firing and got their reward just three minutes in when Will Ryan powered his way over the line with Dougie Flockhart adding the extras.

The pressure was coming from the Yorkshire team, but Bedford soaked up huge amounts with Fraser, who replaced the injured Coulson, making tackle after tackle alongside Robling and Elliot. A fine turnover saw Oli Curry, Robling and Flanagan all making good runs while Lennon directed traffic.

Bedford came more and more into the half and in the 53rd minute they sealed the try bonus point. A lineout drive never really got going with the Knights defence working tirelessly to stop progression, but the ball came to the backs with Robling making a superb curved run to beat one defender and pull in the second. As the tackle came in, he played a back-handed pass out to Adamson who leapt towards the line as another cover tackle came in. After a long debate with his assistant, referee Adam Leal blew his whistle to award the try and Hooley converted superbly from the left wing to make it 24-7.

But Doncaster were far from beaten and they went straight back on the attack. A fine break from replacement hooker David Nelson saw the ball moved to Steve McColl who exchanged passes with former Blues scrum half Tom James to score under the posts with Flockhart converting.

Three minutes later and it really was game on when the Donny pack drove towards the try line with a penalty advantage. The visitors kept knocking at the door before big number 8 Josh Tyrell stretched over the line and Flockhart converted once more to make it 24-21.

Doncaster could have taken the lead in the 72nd minute when they manufactured a three on one situation in the Blues 22. James had the ball in hand with two players outside him, but decided to go for the try line himself, only to be dumped and have the ball stripped.

Bedford had to make the unusual change of prop Gerard Ellis coming on for winger when Adamson had to go off for a Head Injury Assessment when he collided with a Doncaster player off the ball. Not long after the Blues stretched their lead to 29-21 when McCarthy scored his first Blues try. Fraser Strachan had made the initial break with Ellis in support. The ball was recycled through Robling and Williams before Hooley saw Flanagan in space. The ball went to the big man and as the defence scrambled, he got the ball out to McCarthy to score an unconverted try in the 80th minute.

But there was still time for more action. Doncaster went on a sustained attack with backs and forwards working in unison to work the ball forward for Nick Civetta to run in the score which Flockhart duly converted to make it 29-28.

Nails were being bitten, the Bedford road was in full effect, but Doncaster were controlling possession as 90 minutes ticked by on the Goldington Road clock. Having worked their way to the edge of the Blues 22, Donny rejected the opportunity of a drop goal and pressed for a try instead, but the Blues tackled hard, dislodged the ball and found touch to win the game.

Teams. Bedford Blues: Rich Lane, Ed Coulson (Fraser Strachan 46), Jamie Elliott, Lewis Robling, Dean Adamson (Gerard Ellis 78-88), Will Hooley, Lee Dickson (c) (James Lennon 21); Sean McCarthy (Gerard Ellis 88), Charlie Clare (Jacob Fields 59), Ben Cooper (Alex Penny 59), Ed Taylor (Will Carrick-Smith 59), Mark Flanagan, Oli Curry, Josh Buggea (Alex Rae 65), Jarad Williams.

Doncaster Knights: Steve McColl, Dougie Flockhart, Lloyd Hayes, Mat Clark, Curtis Wilson, Charlie Foley (Kurt Morath 60), Tom James (Henry Seniloli 80); Robin Hislop (Richard List 62), Ben Hunter (David Nelson 53), Colin Quigley (Paul Mullen 53), Matt Challinor, Nick Civetta, Will Ryan, Michael Hills (c), Josh Tyrell (Ciaran Booth 80).

Not used: Morgan Eames

Ref: Adam Leal

Attendance: 2671

Next Home Match

Saturday 21st September
1st XV Cup
Goldington Road



See more pictures courtesy of Nigel Rudgard at