Bedford BLues v Dragons Select
Bedford ‘Pinks’ kicked off their 2016/17 British & Irish Cup campaign with a 46-33 bonus point win over the Dragons Premiership Select XV in an end-to-end game at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon.
For the ninth season in a row, the Blues turned Pink for the annual Ladies Day which raises funds for Cancer Research UK and was once again well supported by 2218 fans in Goldington Road.
While there was plenty going on all around the ground, on the pitch a brace of tries for Tom Whiteley as well as one a piece for Tom Griffiths, Sam James, Elliot Clements-Hill and George Perkins ensured that everyone went home with a smile on their faces, including the Dragons who picked up a try-bonus point of their own.
“It was tough all round for us out there today,” said Blues second row Will Carrick-Smith after the final whistle. “We had the slope against us in the first half and while a few things were going right for us, there were a few things that were also going wrong. We’ll take a look at them and then address it next week.
“From a forwards point of view, the lineout functioned really well today with the first job being done really well but looking after the ball when we came down was a bit of an issue. The scrum hit really well but then we were guilty of taking our foot off a little bit.
“We couldn’t really analyse the opposition at all heading into this game but we were able to focus on our own game. Parts of today were really nice to watch but we know that we’ve got work to do heading into the game against Yorkshire Carnegie. They are going well in the Championship, they’re a big, strong unit so we know that we’ll really need to come together to get something from that game.”
Playing up the slope in the first half, the Pinks struggled to get into the opening exchanges and were guilty of fluffing a try-scoring opportunity as Tom Whiteley broke along the right wing and passed to George Perkins but the ball slipped from the winger’s grasp as he crossed the line. A lack of discipline saw Bedford punished with Dragons fly half Arwel Robson converting two penalties in the seventh and 13th minutes respectively.
Bedford slowly came into things and they were gifted a try in the 27th minute as the Dragons attempted to force their way out of their own 22. As they showed quick hands along the right wing, Tom Griffiths read the pass perfectly and plucked the ball out of the air before crossing the line and Myles Dorrian slotted the extras.
The try acted as a wake-up call for the Pinks who then took the game by the scruff of the neck. Michael Le Bourgeois was continuously looking for gaps and Dean Adamson crossed the line only for his effort to be ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up.
Bedford continued to plug away and they got their reward in the 36th minute when a penalty was sent to touch just outside of the Dragons 22. The ball was safely delivered before being dropped into the hands of Tom Whiteley who impishly danced his way through the defence to score under the posts with Dorrian converting to make it 14-6.
But Bedford didn’t turn the a screw when opportunities presented themselves and they were made to pay just before the break as Robson converted his third penalty of the afternoon to close the gap to five at halftime.
The Dragons came out firing after the interval and Robson opened the scoring for the Welsh team. A smart move saw him exchanging passes with Barney Nightingale and then crossing under the sticks before converting his own effort.
Dorrian put Bedford back in front with a 46th minute penalty before Whiteley scored his second of the afternoon. The Dragons were on the attack and only a few metres from the Pinks try line when the ball was spilled and re-gathered by Le Bourgeois who showed great strength to stay on his feet before releasing Whiteley who scampered from his own 22 to score and Dorrian converted once more.
The bonus point was secure six minutes later when the Dragons were penalised for not releasing a tackle and Dorrian sent the ball to touch. Sam James found his man with the lineout ball before joining the back of the maul and falling over the line to score. Dorrian converted to make it 31-16.
Credit to the Dragons though, they didn’t give in at all and they reduced the deficit to eight points with another well worked try. The forwards set up the attack before the ball was sent out to the wing and Will-Talbot Davies breezed over the line and Robson converted once again.
A raft of replacements had the desired effect and Bedford scored their fifth try of the afternoon thanks to some outrageous pace from Jordan Burns. The scrum half scythed through the Dragons defence before popping the ball to Elliot Clements-Hill to score with Jake Sharp converting.
Three minutes later and it was 43-23 as Perkins got his name on the score sheet. This time it was Clements-Hill with the blistering break before he found the supporting man who scored but Sharp hit the upright with his conversion attempt.
The game may have looked out of reach, but no one told the Dragons and they fought to the very end. Nightingale was on hand to round off a nice attacking move before Bedford were reduced to 14 as Clements-Hill was carded to killing the ball. The Dragons made the extra man count and soon crossed for their fourth of the afternoon as Patric Lewis glided across the line. With time ticking away, Sharp hit a late penalty for Bedford to round things off nicely.
Bedford head to Selby next weekend to take on Yorkshire Carnegie in Round Two of the British & Irish Cup before making a trip to West London to face Ealing Trailfinders back in the Championship the following weekend.
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!