Bedford Blues went through a hugely attritional 80 minutes on Saturday afternoon, but they dug in deep to pick up a 41-32 bonus point win over Doncaster Knights.

A brace of tries for Rich Lane and one apiece for Tom Lindsay and Lee Dickson set the Blues on their way while Will Hooley kicked 18 points and Harry Sheppard slotted a late penalty to deny the visitors a second bonus point.

Games between the Blues and Knights are always tight affairs and it was clear that this would be the case from the opening whistle.

The visitors controlled the early stages of the game with former Blue scrum half Tom James pulling the strings as his side held possession but didn't have a finishing punch in the initial exchanges.

That all changed in the seventh minute though when a big hit on Sean McCarthy saw the Knights pack turn the ball over and release the backs who made ground deep in the Blues 22. The ball came out and with men over, hooker David Nelson dotted down in the corner to make it 0-5.

Bedford's response came quickly and thanks to some determined work from Howard Packman who had chipped ahead and then dragged Jack Ram over the line to win a scrum. With Michael Le Bourgeois creating a distraction, Lee Dickson fed Rich Lane who crashed through and stretching over the line to score but the conversion pulled horribly wide.

Back came Doncaster though and they were ahead again following a free kick at the scrum. The ball came to Lesley Klim and he danced through the Blues defence with blistering pace to score and Dougie Flockhart added the extras.

Bedford were down to 14 men when Dickson was binned for a high tackle and Flockhart slotted the penalty to make it 5-15.

The Blues rallied quickly and went on the attack despite the numerical disadvantage. A scrum saw Will Hooley stepping into the scrum half position and he directed his troops to blitz the Donny defence which created space for Lane to cross for his second following great awareness form Rory Hutchinson who delivered a great pass. Hooley struck a fine conversion from the left wing to make it a three point game.

Bedford continued to push and they got their reward minutes later when Packman, Hutchinson, Huw Worthington and Alex Rae carried well and sucked in the Knights forwards who conceded a penalty which Hooley stuck over the posts to level the game.

Back came Doncaster with a series of phases to put pressure on the Blues defence, but Bedford soaked it up and Packman was running another great line down the left with Ben Cooper, Rae and Hutchinson backing him up. Will Carrick-Smith and Jordan Onojaife were hitting hard to push the Knights back and penalty soon followed which Hooley struck perfectly to touch.

Five metres from the Knights try line and Bedford overthrew the lineout much to the Goldington Road faithful's disappointment, but it mattered not moments later. Former Blue Jason Hill gathered the ball and the ruck was formed, but with the ball spilling forward, Bedford mopped up with Dickson playing in Williams who showed delicate hands to pop the ball inside to Tom Lindsay who galloped under the sticks giving Hooley a simple conversion to make it 22-15.

The Blues continued to press the Knights defence and following some good interplay between Dean Adamson, Le Bourgeois and Hutchinson, the referee’s whistle blew again and Hooley slotted the resulting penalty to give Bedford a 25-15 halftime lead.

The Blues got off to the worse possible second half as Donny skipper Will Owen crashed over for a converted try two minutes from kick-off. Bedford had conceded a penalty and although they defended the first lineout maul well, a series of pick and go phases followed with the centre going over and Flockhart adding the extras before converting a penalty in the 53rd minute to level the scores at 25-25.

Back came the Blues and some good counter-rucking saw them win a penalty and ten metres following some backchat. The ball went to touch and Bedford attacked but couldn’t finish the move off. A penalty followed and Hooley gave the Blues a three point lead again.

Just before the hour mark, Bedford crossed for the all-important fourth try courtesy of Dickson. Bedford were inching forward before the scrum half exchanged passes with Jarad Williams and then scampered under the posts giving Hooley a simple conversion to make it 35-25.

Tiredness was starting to have an effect, but both teams utilised their benches. Dave Spelman, Ed Taylor, Justin Blanchet and Jacob Field all had an impact before Camilo Parilli-Ocampo and Jordan Burns made their mark.

In fact, it was the latter being taken out at the back of a ruck that led to another Blues penalty which was dispatched by Hooley to make it 38-25.

But back came Doncaster and following a phenomenal amount of phases from the visitors, replacement Alex Shaw crashed over from close range with Flockhart again converting to reduce the deficit to just six points.

However, Bedford took control of the final minutes and set up camp in the Knights’ half before a rather strange ending to the game. A penalty came following a lineout and Bedford asked if time was up. Unbeknown to the ref and players, the kicking tee was on as Sheppard sent the ball to touch. With the whistle ringing out and players shaking hands, the Fourth Official informed the ref who then had to rescind his pea blowing for the kick to be taken. Sheppard stepped up, converted, and Donny left with just the single bonus point rather than two.

Bedford return to action next weekend when they host Ulster Ravens in the quarter final of the British & Irish Cup.

Come on you Blues!!!

Next Home Match

Friday 23rd August
1st XV Pre Season
Goldington Road