Bedford Blues v Jersey Reds
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! What an afternoon of Rugby at Goldington Road as Bedford Blues fought until the bitter end to win an enthralling competition against Jersey Reds 39-37.
A whopping 4621 turned up for this Boxing Day encounter to see a brace of tries from Dean Adamson along with one each for Tom Farrell, Mike Le Bourgeois, Matt Gallagher and George Perkins. Myles Dorrian kicked seven points while a final conversion from Jake Sharp won the game for the Blues.
It was an intriguing opening 40 minutes at Goldington Road with both sides looking to play exciting rugby and put on a show for the huge crowd in attendance and it took just a couple of minutes to get the score board rolling.
Jersey punted the ball down field into the arms of Josh Buggea who span the ball inside to Matt Gallagher who ran crab-like across the field before feigning a kick which fooled the Jersey defence. The fullback sprinted into space before offloading to George Perkins who then looped a pass inside to Dean Adamson who had the gas to cross the line and Myles Dorrian converted.
The visitors then responded with a tried-and-trust maul which made good yards with the ref sticking his arm out for a penalty. Playing the free ball, the ball was sent out wide to George Adair who scored and Sam Katz converted from the right wing.
Back the pendulum swung though and Bedford crossed for their second try in the 16th minute. After a strong scrum, Jordan Burns sent the ball to Gallagher who sent a perfect kick up field and Adamson once again stepped on the afterburner to beat the defence and dot down with Dorrian converting once again.
Bedford were then up against it in the 19th minute when Buggea was carded for a late tackle on Katz and Jersey quickly sent the ball to touch deep in the Blues 22. Although the maul defence was good, Sami Fisilau saw there was no one on the corner so he simply stepped over to score and Katz hit another fine conversion to level the scores once again.
The Blues were under the cosh for the next few minutes, but they didn’t buckle and managed to repel any Jersey attack. A penalty at the scrum saw Jersey go to the corner, but the seven man pack did a superb job and won a scrum with the ball soon heading to safety.
Bedford resilience saw tempers flaring and both packs came together on a couple of occasions but the referee had a long chat with the captains to remind everyone what time of year it is…
Back to a full complement, the Blues won a penalty when Perkins was taken around the neck and Dorrian made no mistake as he nudged the ball over the sticks.
But Jersey were to have the last laugh of the half as they slowly worked their way up the pitch before Katz sold two dummies to inch towards the try line before popping the ball to supporting centre Kuki Maafu who crossed with Katz making it 17-21 at half time.
There was no respite after the interval and the first chink in Jersey’s armour was spotted in the 41st minute when Katz sent a straight forward looking penalty to the right of the sticks as he looked to extend the Reds lead.
It proved to be a crucial moment in the game as Bedford fired back with their third try of the afternoon. Jersey had sent a grubber kick to touch in Bedford’s 22, but the Blues went quick with Gallagher breaking from behind his try line to gallop 40 metres before being stopped. Bedford patiently built and went through the phases before Tom Farrell went through to score but Dorrian’s conversion was run down by the Jersey defence.
Katz kicking boot was on target in the 50th minute as he made it 22-24 but Bedford continued to press and another good passage of play resulted in Dorrian sending a delightful grubber kick through the gap so that Mike Le Bourgeois could score against his old team. Dorrian’s conversion fell just under the bar, but Bedford led 27-24.
The Islanders continued to look dangerous when they attacked and Katz made no mistake as he sent a 61st minute penalty over the bar to level the scores. He was then on hand to convert Jersey’s fourth try five minutes later after his pack crossed from a lineout drive with Captain James Freeman claiming the score. Into the final ten minutes and Katz made the score 27-37 as he struck another penalty.
It looked as though it might be another of ‘those’ days at Goldington Road, but the Blues squad rallied and got their reward in the 78th minute when wave after wave of attack saw Matt Gallagher going over for a deserved try to make the 32-37.
When the referee awarded Jersey a penalty in the 80th minute most people would have been forgiven for thinking that that really would be it for Bedford, but there was an almighty – if somewhat surprised – cheers as the crowd realised his effort had once again drifted wide.
Bedford – with the crowd well and truly behind them – were in the ascendancy deep into stoppage time when a penalty went their way at the scrum. Replacement scrum half Tom James took the tap and go to get things moving and the Blues seemed to step up another gear as Sharp, Le Bourgeois and Farrell linked up before feeding Gallagher who streaked clear before playing in Perkins who had the speed and agility to arch his run and dot down under the posts. Sharp then had the honour of putting the icing on the cake with a straight forward conversion which sent the crowd into raptures.