Bedford Blues v Ealing Trailfinders
Not for the first time this season, Bedford’s mistakes cost them dearly as top four hunting Ealing Trailfinders picked up a 16-29 victory at Goldington Road.
It was the fourth meeting between the two sides this season and Ealing continued their good fortune by pouncing on the Blues errors. Bedford scored a couple of cracking tries through Piers O’Conor and Elliot Clements-Hill, but Mark Bright and Mile Mantella scored for the visitors while Aaron Penberthy hit 19 points from his boot.
“It was a game of moments,” said prop Hayden Thompson-Stringer after the final whistle. “We started really sharp but we just didn’t pick off our opportunities. It was a really tight game up until the final ten minutes and we were really knocking on the door, but that’s the problem. We’re not getting through the door.
“Everyone can see what we can do and we scored two really good tries. When we come alive we look really sharp and we can finish. Unfortunately, there were chances that we didn’t finish.
“For us, we have to continue building. We’ve not had the best of seasons, but we are learning and are getting better. We have a few games left and we want to finish strongly so that we can head into next season in a positive fashion.”
It was a bit of a stop start first half with both teams going in hard but coming away with some nasty knocks. The first saw Luke Daniels slipped as Ealing attacked and took a knock on the knee of Piers O’Conor. Aaron Penberthy got the score board rolling with a penalty soon after following a scrum penalty.
Bedford went on the attack and came close to a try as they sent the ball wide but an Ealing hand intercepted. The Blues were then forced into an early change when prop Billy Walker took a knock to the arm which forced the Saracens man off the field with Myles Dorrian slotting over a penalty to level the game.
Back came Ealing though and another Blues infringement gave the always reliable Penberthy the chance to inch his team ahead which he did with ease in the 20th minute.
There was a nervous few seconds for Elliot Clements-Hill when he clattered into Mile Mantella who was in mid-flight, but the referee decided it was nothing more than a penalty and Ealing kicked to touch. The visitors often make good use of the lineout maul, but Bedford were prepared and stopped it well.
A Blues scrum on the halfway line led to the opening score of the afternoon. The ball was hooked back with Tom Whiteley finding Dorrian who in turn sent a long pass to Piers O’Conor who made good ground before offloading to Howard Packman who charged down the right wing before drawing the defender and playing in O’Conor for the unconverted try on the half hour mark.
However, the restart led to Ealing’s opening score as the ball was taken into the Blues 22 and then kicked out on the full. A penalty followed and the ball went to touch before the visitors went through the phases and Mark Bright crashed over from close range with Penberthy converting to make it 8-13.
Penberthy then extended the lead with a 40th minute penalty but that was cancelled out by Dorrian on the stroke of half time after Aled Jenkins was carded for a deliberate knock on.
Bedford made the most of the numerical advantage as they scored their second try in the 44th minute. A break from Tom Whitely saw him linking with Jordan Onojaife who showed excellent handling skills to find his second row partner Will Carrick-Smith. The lock charged on before handing the ball over to Howard Packman and he made full use of the slope to draw the defence and offload to the waiting Clements-Hill who dotted down to level the score.
The Blues continued to have chances and would have been kicking themselves for not taking them. At one point, Bedford went through 14 phases of play in the Ealing 22 only for the ball to slip the grasp at the final moment.
Penberthy put the visitors back ahead with a straight forward penalty in the 67th minute before Bedford missed another half chance as Clements-Hill made a good break down the right wing. With Jason Hill inside and Packman outside, Clements-Hill found the forward but Ealing recovered well to take him down and then won a penalty moments later.
Bedford continued to push, but an unfortunate error gifted Trailfinders their second try. Having pinned the Blues back and pressuring the ruck, a loose pass didn’t find the intended recipient and Mile Mantella collected before hurtling over the line with Penberthy tucking away the extras along with another penalty in the 76th minute.
Try as they might, Bedford went in search of another try, but the visitors soaked up the pressure before winning a final penalty which Penberthy – unexpectedly – sliced wide of the uprights.
The Blues return to action next Sunday with an away trip to Lady Bay to face Nottingham.
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!