Bedford Blues v Plymouth Albion
Frustrating is probably the best word to describe the 80 minutes of rugby and the result after Bedford Blues were defeated at home 18-33 by Plymouth Albion on Saturday afternoon.
Former Blue James Shanahan brought an organised and well drilled Albion side to Goldington Road and they did exactly what they needed to do to record an important win that moves them ten points clear of Bedford in the Championship table.
Bedford will be scratching their heads a little and wondering how this one got away from them particularly when they had a two man advantage in the second half, but in truth it was too many errors on the day.
The Blues started brightly with returning skipper James Pritchard converting an early penalty but Declan Cusack levelled moments later and then slotted a second penalty in the 19th minute.
Bedford – who were playing down the slope – were undone in the 29th minute when Albion hooked the ball back on a Blues scrum and flanker Eoghan Grace scooped in the ball and ran over unchallenged form ten metres out with Cusack converting to make it 3-13.
A third penalty for Cusack extended the Plymouth lead but Bedford found a way back into the game in the 34th minute thanks to a well worked Pritchard try. The Blues lineout took in the ball and then Darryl Veenendaal released Jake Sharp – who was featuring in a Blues shirt for the 101st time – who sliced through the Plymouth defence before playing in his captain for the try. Pritchard’s conversion came off the inside of the upright and over the bar for 10-16 but he could add a penalty on the stroke of half time which would have made it a three point game.
The second half saw the Blues come out in determined fashion and for ten minutes they fought tooth and nail to get back into things. Sadly, the hard work was undone in a flash as Bedford went on the attack. A loose pass was plucked out of the air by Chris Elder who galloped form his 22 to the Blues before a ruck was formed. Albion sent the ball along the line and with a massive overlap the ball dropped to Rhys Oakley to score with Cusack again converting.
Robert Langley was sin-binned after the penalty count was stacked massively against Albion and then Toby Howley-Berridge followed six minutes later for cynically slowing the ball at a ruck. Bedford looked to counter but the closest they came was when Nico Steenkamp was held up as he crashed over the try line.
Back to a full compliment and with Shanahan on the pitch, Albion then rubbed salt in the wound. Firstly, Shanahan slotted a drop goal over the upright and then Grace found a lot of room along the right wing and played in Tom Bowen for a try which Cusack converted to maintain his 100 per cent kicking record to make it 13-33.
The final score did go Bedford’s way and it was a first try for Argentinian prop Tomas Gilardon-Paz who crashed over from close range to make it 18-33 but it was too little too late and the Blues now have a big week preparing for an important encounter against Ealing Trailfinders who are fighting tooth and nail to remain in the Greene King IPA Championship.