Bedford Blues v Rotherham Titans
Bedford Blues put in a huge defensive display under the Friday Night Lights at Goldington Road to secure their second Championship win of the season as they overcame Rotherham Titans 17-16 on a soggy night at Goldington Road.
Tries for Dean Adamson and Jacob Fields put a nice shine on the win, but it was the defensive display from the entire squad that ensured that the Blues followed up last week’s win with another victory.
Speaking after the game, try scoring hooker Fields said: “It was a very tough game. Rotherham have a very big pack and they were relentless in coming forward but I thought that managed to contain them, move them around and then make full use of our kicking game. We persevered and we got the win and that was the most important thing.
“Credit to our backs tonight, they landed some quality kicks and we made great yards because of it. Our set piece functioned a lot better tonight and while our scrum isn’t the finished article, there were a lot of positives to take form the performance. The defence was unbelievable – particularly in the second half.
“Now we turn our attention to the British & Irish Cup against Newport Gwent Dragons next week. It’ll be good to take on some new opposition, put the league to one side and try to continue the winning ways.”
A downpour just before kick-off meant that the high ball kicking game was going to be used by both sides with Jake Sharp and his opposite number Will Robinson doing just that early on. Bedford conceded an eighth minute penalty as they were caught offside and Robinson slotted the ball to give the visitors the lead.
Bedford put on pressure from the restart with Michael Le Bourgeois pinning the visitors back and when the Blues retook possession, Sharp was on hand to coolly slot a drop goal to level things up.
The game swung back Rotherham’s way and they scored the opening try following a good build up but a very fortunate piece of luck. The pack had inched their way forward before Robinson grubber kick through but as Tom James came sliding in to gather, the ball cannoned off his knee to Lloyd Hayes who dotted down before Robinson converted.
Bedford didn’t let the score get them down and they battled back hard to level the scores. A well-worked lineout saw the ball recycled quickly and Pat Tapley broke through the defensive line before being hauled down. The ball came out to Sharp who kicked through and in a reversal of fortune, Hayes spilt the ball and Dean Adamson was on hand to score with Sharp converting.
Three minutes later and the Blues were ahead with an excellently – if not, sneaky – lineout manoeuvre. Jacob Fields lined-up a long throw but went short to Justin Blanchet who sprinted forward before popping the ball back to the hooker who raced over the line for a try which was converted by Sharp.
There was a mad five minutes when both teams put together wave after wave of kick and chase rugby but no one really got the upper hand and a second penalty from Robinson was converted in the 33rd minute to leave the score at 17-13 at the break.
The second half was a true battle of the defences and both set about cancelling one another out from the whistle. The continuation of the kicking game may not have been to the crowds liking, but it was a huge test for the men under the ball and their supporting players.
Countless tackles were made by the Blues with Josh Buggea, Ben Adams, Ed Taylor and Mike Howard throwing themselves at any Titan forward who dared pick up the ball while Ollie Dodge and Tom Farrell snuffed out any attempted back move.
The attacking prowess was there for all to see with Tom James and Sharp linking up well as they tried to release Tapley, Adamson and Bourgeois, but to the Titans credit, they pounced on anything that looked like building up a head of steam.
Changes occurred frequently throughout the half with fresh props Hayden Thompson-Stringer and Chris Judge picking up where Jack Culverhouse and Dave Spelman had left off. A good Farrell break was the catalyst for a Blues attack which saw Buggea, James, Dodge, Tapley and Adams all surging into the Rotherham 22 but the visitors defended well and won a penalty which they cleared.
It was soon Rotherham’s turn to attack and a momentary lapse from the defensive game plan saw the Blues concede a succession of penalties which in turn saw Robinson slot three points in the 59th minute to make it 17-16.
That may have been the end of the scoring, but it wasn’t the end of the action as both teams continued to slug it out like heavyweight boxers. Bedford’s pressure kicking saw Rotherham slicing the ball to touch but the visitors prevented a quick lineout and the ref awarded Bedford a penalty but Sharp’s effort pulled just wide.
Bedford were then defensive duties on the edge of their 22 and the coaching team would have been delighted to have seen all 15 players being involved in repelling the Rotherham attack and forcing the Titans back into their own half.
Myles Dorrian came on and was soon in the thick of things with a couple of minutes left on the clock. Bedford had found space on the left wing, but with little support when the ball came to him, the Australian went for a drop goal but it faded just wide of the uprights.
With time ticking down a Bedford lineout was fumbled and George Edgson couldn’t quite gather the ball. It gave Rotherham the scrum and the chance for one final attack, but every man in the Bedford pack gave their all and won a penalty which Sharp sent to touch to seal the victory.
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!