Bedford Blues v Saracens

Saturday, 18 August, 2018 - 15:00
1st XV Pre Season
Lost 15-57

The scoreboard may have read 15-57, but there were plenty of positives for Bedford Blues to take from this pre-season encounter against Premiership champions Saracens.

It ended nine tries to three in favour of the visitors, but the Blues coaches will have been pleased with the never-give-in attitude displayed by the entire squad as well as some monumental defensive work coupled with sublime attacking play.

Speaking at the final whistle, Blues new back Ed Coulson said: “I thought that we went pretty well in the first half and we were right in it. We knew that we had to come out of the blocks in terms of physicality particularly as it was their first hit out. 

“We knew that Saracens were going to come hard at us so we had concentrated on our scramble defence quite a lot during the week. We soaked up a lot of pressure in the opening ten minutes, but a soon as we got our hands on the ball we were looking really good.

“Ultimately, a couple of mistake cost us and they were very clinical. That’s why they are the Premiership champions and one of the best teams in Europe. There are still things to learn, but it was a massive improvement from last week at Plymouth and now we need to push on further.”

A bumper crowd of 3010 was on hand to see the Blues opening home fixture of the pre-season as Premiership champions Saracens came to town and it was a blistering opening 40 minutes.

As expected, the visitors came hurtling out the blocks and put the Blues under a huge amount of pressure from the off. Charlie Clare, Alex Rae and Jack Nay all called into action early on while Rich Lane looked comfortable under some bomb-like kicks from Henry Taylor and Max Malins.

Saracens spurned a great opportunity to take the lead in the tenth minute when it looked easier to score. Jackson Wray showed superb pace to break the Blues defence before Will Skelton carried deep into the Blues 22. He went for the offload to Henry Taylor but the pass was low and Taylor couldn’t gather.

Bedford were pinned back and conceded a penalty which Malins sent to the five metre mark, but the Blues maul defence was top notch and denied the visitors a score as Saracens knocked on.

The opening score came in the 17th minute through Bedford’s first real meaningful attack. A solid scrum set the platform before Lee Dickson and Will Hooley combined for Lane to run onto the ball and reach halfway. The ball was secure at the ruck with Dickson going down the blindside and popping the ball to Dean Adamson who delicately chipped ahead, ran on and showed great footballing skills before pouncing over the line for the unconverted try.

Saracens were patient in their response and slowly started to take grip as they mounted waves of attack with Henry Taylor being played in by Malins for the score with the fly half adding the extras in the 29th minute.

Unperturbed, Bedford didn’t allow the champions to push on, and instead they went back on the attack. Dickson and Clare set off with Jamie Elliott in support before Adamson chipped ahead once more with Lewis Robling showing superb pace to just slam the ball down before it rolled dead. Once again, the conversion went missing, but Bedford had the lead.

Unfortunately, that lead didn’t last long as Saracens turned the screw with the clock ticking down to half time. A series of attacks resulted in Henry and Duncan Taylor linking up to play in Alex Lewington for a try which Malins converted to make it 10-14 at the interval.

Changes were always going to have an impact and Saracens made full use of their bench as the second half got underway. It took just six minutes for David Strettle to get back into the scoring habit on English soil as he rounded off a move out wide.

Sione Vailanu, who played for the Blues against Blackheath last summer, then scored the first of his three tries following great build-up play by Tom Whiteley. Vailanu went over again minutes later, but it was largely thanks to an impressive break by Wray before Malins crossed the whitewash following good work from Ralph Adam-Hales and Will Skelton. 10-40

Despite the onslaught, Bedford dug in deep with Ben Cooper, Hayden King, Ed Taylor and Oli Curry all crashing into every challenge while Chris Czekaj and Joe Green were on hand to run the ball in midfield. 

A breakthrough came in the 68th minute and it was almost the stuff of dreams for Fin Creighton who found himself ten metres from the line following an explosive break from Adamson. The scrum half took the ball and ran wide with Whiteley in pursuit but instead of going for the corner he looked to pass to a teammate and Whiteley managed to palm the ball back. It mattered not though as Adamson was on hand to scoop and score making it 15-40.

Once again though, Saracens showed their class with three more tries in ten minutes. Strettle scored a second after a turnover at the ruck before Vailanu went over like a freight train from the back of a scrum. The final try cam for Joel Kpoku who took in the restart, exchanged passes with Dom Morris and then galloped clear for the score. Malins converted once to make it 15-57.

Bedford continued to push though with Josh Buggea, Huw Worthington and Tadgh McElroy all carrying well but the champions shut up shop and refused to budge even when the Blues came knocking with the final attack of the game.

Plenty of plus points and a few things still to work on, but Bedford will be very happy with how they are shaping up ahead of the final pre-season game against Bishops Stortford next Friday.


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Next Home Match

Saturday 21st September
1st XV Cup
Goldington Road



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