Bedford Blues were guilty of not taking their opportunities as they lost 29-33 to Jersey Reds under the Friday Night Lights of Goldington Road.

It was a frustrating evening for the Blues although they did pick up two bonus points thanks to a brace of tries from Dean Adamson and one apiece for Elliot Clements-Hill and Jordan Burns. But too many chances went begging while Jersey finished off their opportunities to take the spoils in a nine try encounter.

Speaking after the final whistle, Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: “We were in a tough physical battle and Jersey really attacked the breakdown tonight and we didn’t really deal with it in large parts. We scored some fantastic tries, but you have to give a lot of credit to Jersey as they did a great job, put us under pressure and scored some great tries as well. On balance, they probably deserved the game because they were smarter than us. 

“There were times that they got away with murder at the breakdown. We were five metres out and they killed the ball but no yellow card. Despite that, we were under the sticks at the end and tried to dive over the ruck which was a crazy decision, but that’s the margins at the end of the day. A bit more patience and we could have scored a try that could have won the game.

“It was a hell of a game of Championship rugby and last year we were over the moon when we beat Jersey in the final minute. Tonight, the shoes on the other foot and good luck to them. They’ll enjoy the night and the flight home as they’ve done the business.”

The opening ten minutes of the game were extremely infuriating for the Blues as they looked to make ground heading up the slope and a series of penalties saw them knocking on the Jersey try. The visitors weren't in the mood to be breached though and their maul defence did its job to deny Bedford on three attempts.

Jersey then showed how efficient their attack is with the opening try coming from some poor Blues defence. Apakuki Ma'Afu found space far too easy and used the slope to his advantage before playing in scrum half Kieran Hardy to dot down in the corner with Brendan Cope converting.

The Blues response was immediate and quite marvellous. Adamson started the move with a good break down the right with Rich Lane and Rory Hutchinson in support. The defence covered the initial break, but the Blues were five metres out and Lee Dickson popped the ball for Adamson to run onto and score next to the sticks giving Elliot Clements-Hill a simple conversion.

The game was certainly evenly matched with both teams looking to run at every opportunity and the ground sparked into life when Jarad Williams went on a jinking run that Brendan Burke would have been proud of. Moments later, the Blues were almost through when Howard Packman and Clements-Hill linked up with a succession of passes only for a Jersey hand to knock on as the tackle was made.

There was then even more frustration for the Blues as they put together 13 fantastic phases of play only to cough up a cheap penalty that ultimately led to the second Jersey try. Another quick attack saw the hosts move the ball around briskly with Josh Hodson scoring the unconverted try in the 25th minute.

The Reds had the wind in their sails and made Bedford pay again four minutes later as a swift attack saw Hodson coming close again before Nick Selway blasted over the line from close range with Cope converting.

Bedford had to make a change as Dickson suffered a knock in the build-up to the try and Burns looked to make an immediate as he added a touch of flair and pace to the game.

Despite the disruption to the line-up, Bedford regrouped and scored on half-time to set up an exciting second half. With Burns directing traffic and carries from Jordan Onojaife, Lane and Clements-Hill, a final break from Mike Le Bourgeois saw Adamson played in for his second which Clements-Hill converted as the half ended.

Bedford were almost caught out early in the second half when Jerry Sexton saw a huge gap open up and stormed through, but Howard Packman was on hand to bring the big lock to ground and stop the attack.

Clements-Hill converted a penalty to reduce the deficit to 17-19 but Jersey crossed for their third try a few minutes later. Countless phases were gone through by the visitors and Bedford did well to defend for so long, but the cracks formed and Scott Van Beda crossed the line with Cope adding the extras.

It was end to end stuff at Goldington Road and Hutchinson showed some spectacular footballing skills with a chip over the top that he then volleyed forward, but couldn’t quite take the ball in. Bedford were looking menacing and picked up several penalties that went to touch only for the lineout to misfire and let Jersey off the hook.

Reward did come Bedford’s way in the 66th minute. Packman did a great job in the build-up to win a penalty as he tackled and wrapped the man up before the ball went to touch. The lineout found the intended target but Jersey defended well and a ruck formed with Ben Copper, Camilo Parilli-Ocampo and Josh Buggea all picking and going before the ball came to the backs where space had presented itself for Clements-Hill to cross the line for an unconverted score.

Goldington Road then erupted two minutes later as Bedford took the lead for the first time in the game. Having attacked from the restart, Burns was given the slightest bit of room and the scrum half turned on the afterburners to run clear of the defence and score with Clements-Hill adding the extras to make it 29-26.

But Bedford were guilty of taking their eyes off the game as Jersey hit back almost immediately with another well-worked effort. The Blues failed to clear their lines and then expected the referees whistle to blow when the ball dropped to the floor but Jersey continued playing and a couple of phases later, Hodson was over again and Cope sent the ball over the sticks to reinstate the Islanders lead with ten minutes remaining.

The Blues pulled themselves together and went on the attack slowly finding themselves deep in the Jersey 22. Le Bourgeois broke well with Dan Lewis in support and Adamson coming up quickly on the outside but the ball went to ground and a ruck formed just a couple of metres from the line. Bedford piled in to the ruck, but they couldn’t free the ball as a Jersey hand had a firm hold and wasn’t going to let go. The ref blew hard on his whistle and stopped his watch but nothing more than a stern word was had with the guilty party.

Bedford tapped the penalty and looked to set up a maul, but Jersey read it well and forced the ball to ground. Wave after wave of Bedford attack followed with Alex Rae, Ed Taylor, Will Carrick-Smith and Alex Penny all making inroads and the ruck formed on the line and under the posts. The Blues then decided to try and hurdle over the line despite numbers outside, but they got no further and were held up. Jersey’s scrum then won their team the game with a huge effort on the Blues put in to win a penalty which went to touch and after claiming the ball, they went through the motions until the referee’s watch struck 80.

The Blues return to Championship action next Saturday with a trip to Rotherham Titans.

Come on you Blues!!! 

Next Home Match

Saturday 21st September
1st XV Cup
Goldington Road