Bedford Blues v Rotherham
Bedford Blues tasted defeat at home in the British & Irish Cup on Saturday afternoon but it was a cracking afternoon of rugby with both teams running in four tries during the afternoon.
Unfortunately, the Blues picked up three more injuries that they could have done without and the upright stopped a penalty and conversion going over in this back-and-forth game.
Rotherham had already won Pool Three and Bedford didn’t have a chance of going through as best placed runners up so you could have been forgiven for thinking nothing much was riding on this one – think again. Games between the Blues and Titans are always fiercely competitive and Saturday’s encounter was no different.
The visitors took the lead in the sixth minute after they had secured good position in the Blues 22. Laurence Pearce picked up the ball from the base of a scrum and after exchanging passes, the big number eight bulldozed his way over with Juan Pablo Socino adding the extras. Unfortunately, Don Barrell’s game was over as he took a nasty knock to the head which left (another) big cut and Tom Armes replaced him.
Bedford’s reply was almost instant. A lineout was delivered cleanly and the Blues went on the offensive. The forwards went through several phases before the ball found its way down the line and Mike Le Bourgeois stretched out to score in the corner with Jake Sharp converting brilliantly to level the scores.
With their tails up, the Blues took the game to Rotherham and were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but Sharp’s effort was off target and cannoned off the post. But the Blues were rewarded for their endeavours in the 18th minute with their second try of the afternoon. Bedford won a scrum against the head and the ball went down the right wing to Patrick Tapley who scored. Another injury though, this time Le Bourgeois took a knock and he was replaced by Brendan Burke. Sharp couldn’t convert but the Blues were ahead 12-7.
Rotherham pushed hard as the half wore on and they set up camp in the Blues 22 – Pearce took a knock for the visitors and he was replaced by Alex Rieder. When a lineout went the Titans way and a maul was set, referee Ben Whitehouse had no hesitation in carding Tom Jubb who was the guilty party when the move was brought down. With seven men in the pack, the Blues did superbly to overturn a scrum and then pick up a penalty, but they could do nothing when Roth ran back a clearance kick with Dallan Murphy jinking his way over the line for an unconverted effort.
There was a long stoppage and a lot of concern for Armes when he took a knock to the head (which ultimately saw him replaced by Ben Gulliver at the interval). With half time approaching Roth continued to push forward and they scored a third try through Jamie Broadley who dotted down by the posts with Socino making it 12-19 at the break.
The second half was a stale affair for the first 20 minutes with both teams cancelling one another out. But then all of a sudden it burst into life with three tries in five minutes. The first came for Bedford and Patrick Tapley once again and it was a fantastic training ground move. Lineout was secured and dropped to Nico Steenkamp who popped the ball to Harry Peck for the backs to take over. Corey Hircock made room with a super run and then unleashed Tapley to score again with Sharp converting. 19 all.
It stayed that way for two minutes as Rotherham responded in kind. Bedford gifted the visitors two penalties in quick succession and as the Blues retreated, Charlie Mulchrone sneaked through to score with Socino again adding the extras.
Back up the other end and Bedford pulled it back to 24-26 when Hircock – who picked up the man of the match award - got his name on the score sheet. Neville Edwards made the try with a darting run into Roth’s half before ball came back towards the right wing with Hircock latching on and diving over. Again though, the post got in the way of Sharp’s conversion.
As the minutes ticked away though, Rotherham picked up two penalties which Socino coolly converted before a final scrum of the afternoon was won by the visitors before Mulchrone punted it to touch.
See more match pictures at Nigel Rudgard's http://frontrow.photium.com/