Bedford Blues v London Irish

Saturday, 9 February, 2019 - 15:00
1st XV Championship
Lost 23-26

Bedford Blues put in one heck of a performance against league leaders London Irish on Saturday afternoon but the Exiles managed to hang on to pick up a 23-26 win.

Tries from Ryan Hutler and Lewis Robling plus 13 points form the boot of Jake Sharp ensured a losing bonus point was picked up, but London Irish went home with five in the bag thanks to a brace of tries in each half.

The visit of the league leaders was always going to bring the best out in the Blues but they were under the cosh early on with Irish looking to find anyway through the Bedford line. A smart grubber set up an attack for the Exiles but Ryan Hutler made a great tackle before reinforcements arrived and a penalty went to Bedford.

Irish were enjoying the majority of possession in the opening exchanges, but Bedford were the first to score when Jake Sharp read an intended pass perfectly to pluck the ball out of the air and after a ten metre sprint, he offloaded to Hutler who hurtled down the slope to score by the posts giving Sharp a simple conversion.

The visitors fired back within three minutes though. The Goldington Road crowd was convinced that a knock on had occurred during the build-up but the referee said the ball had been ripped. Fly half Jacob Atkins, who spent time on loan with the Blues, popped the ball to winger Brendon Macken who raced over for the score with Ben Meehan converting to level the game.

Bedford were almost in for a second try when Rich Lane created something out of nothing as the Blues attacked from their own 22, but his offload couldn’t be taken in by Pat Tapley and Irish were back in possession.

The amount of tackles made by the Blues was quite remarkable in the first 40 minutes. Huw Worthington, Mark Flanagan, Oli Curry and Charlie Clare were clattering all and sundry while Sean McCarthy and Ben Cooper were more than happy to batter their way forwards while Chris Czekaj was also on hand to surge forward when the ball came to the backs.

Sharp added a quickfire penalty double either side of a drop goal attempt to give the Blues a 13-7 advantage. Irish were on the wrong end of the referee’s whistle soon after with prop Ollie Hoskins being shown a yellow card and Sharp adding his third penalty of the afternoon from some way out to increase Bedford’s lead to nine.

Back came the Exiles though who were happy to keep hold on the ball and inch their way forwards but again they coughed up penalties. Bedford were forced into an early change when Czekaj limped off the field, but young Matt Worley slotted in well and kept the visitors at bay.

However, the final score of the half was to go to Irish as their territorial advantage paid off. With a scrum deep in the Blues 22, the Exiles went through a series of pick and go attacks before replacement scrum half Scott Steele dotted down out wide for an unconverted try.

Alex Penny was introduced to proceedings at the interval and he was straight in the thick of the action as the Blues were called into defensive duties. Carrick-Smith, Worthington and Jarad Williams were all in on the action and the defence held firm to win a scrum. A move from the back of the scrum saw Hutler flying along the wing and cutting inside, but the Exiles regrouped to recover the ball and attack once more.

With Irish looking more and more dangerous, Bedford finally succumbed to a score in the 54th minute. A lineout maul didn’t get the job done so the ball found its way inside to centre Terence Hepetema who grounded it with Atkins adding the extras.

Bedford weren’t going to be bullied out of the game though and they started to see more of the ball and win some territory. Replacements Josh Buggea, Toby Trinder, Paddy Ryan and Dean Adamson began stretching their legs to push the Exiles back, but solid defence nipped the attack in the bud.

The visitors then stretched their lead to 16-26 when a lapse in discipline saw two Irish penalties being fired down the pitch into the Blues 22. Bedford threw themselves into the defensive effort, but Ofisa Treviranus was able to go over from close range with Atkins converting once again.

Bedford didn’t let their heads drop though and were back in the game in the 77th minute with a fantastic score. Worley made a superb break with support either side of him. As the defence closed he took on the man and laid the ball off to Robling who ran under the posts with Sharp converting once again.

The crowd were certainly in fine voice, but Irish did the sensible thing and stuck the ball up their jersey as they saw out the final minutes before punting the ball to touch to record the win.

Bedford Blues: 15. Rich Lane, 14. Ryan Hutler, 13. Lewis Robling, 12. Chris Czekaj, 11. Pat Tapley, 10. Jake Sharp, 9. James Lennon; 1. Sean McCarthy, 2. Charlie Clare, 3. Ben Cooper, 4. Will Carrick-Smith, 5. Mark Flanagan (c), 6. Oli Curry, 7. Huw Worthington, 8. Jarad Williams.

Replacements: 16. Jacob Fields, 17. Toby Trinder, 18. Alex Penny, 19. Paddy Ryan, 20. Josh Buggea, 21. Dean Adamson, 22. Matt Worley

London Irish: 15 Alivereti Veitokani, 14 Brendan Macken, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Jacob Atkins, 9 Ben Meehan, 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 6 Josh McNally ©, 7 TJ Ioane, 8 Jake Schatz.

Replacements: 16 Ollie Adams, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Albert Tuisue, 19 Ofisa Treviranus, 20 Scott Steele, 21 Ian Keatley, 22 Ollie Hassell-Collins.

Referee: Tom Foley

Assistants: Jack Makepeace & Jamie Leahy

Attendance: 2851

See more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures HERE.
 

Partners

Photography

See more pictures courtesy of Nigel Rudgard at

frontrow.photium.com