MATCH REPORT V OSPREYS

Bedford Blues inched closer to the quarter finals of the British & Irish Cup with a hard fought win against the Ospreys Premier Select XV at Port Talbot on Friday night.

It wasn't the prettiest of games and it did come at a cost to the Blues in terms of injuries, but Bedford worked relentlessly to secure the win thanks to tries from Jordan Burns and Michael Le Bourgeois and kicks form Harry Sheppard and Will Hooley.

There wasn't a great deal to remember about the first 40 minutes which resembled a game of chess rather than rugby as both teams cancelled one another out.

Bedford enjoyed a large bulk of possession with Burns and Sheppard pulling the strings while Jarad Williams, Justin Blanchet and Will Carrick-Smith enjoyed smashing through the Ospreys defensive line.

While the Blues looked comfortable win ball in hand, they lacked the killer finish in. The opening half with only the odd chance presenting itself. Ball handling was to fault on a couple of occasions, but credit has to go to the Ospreys defence which moved quickly to snub any attack.

The first, and only, points of the half were racked up in the 20th minute when Sheppard slotted a straight-forward penalty much to the delight of the travelling Blues faithful.

Ospreys countered from the restart and a penalty pushed the Blues back deep in their 22 only for Hugh Gustafson to throw a wonky lineout and let Bedford off the hook.

A long delay soon followed as both Carrick-Smith and Jordan Onojaife received treatment on the halfway, but both shook off their respective knocks to continue and were soon called into action at the scrum.

Bedford built another good attack with Dean Adamson, Chris Czekaj and Howard Packman all involved, but the final pass was ahead of the man and drifted into touch.

Onojaife continued his fine defensive work at the lineout by pinching the ball back for Bedford and a series of phases followed with Josh Buggea, Ben Cooper, Tom Lindsay and Sean McCarthy all carrying well before the move ended with a knock on.

Unfortunately, Sheppard took a nasty looking hit somewhere in the build up and his night ended prematurely as he was forced off the field with his arm in a sling being replaced by Hooley.

Ospreys went on the attack once again and Bedford really had to dig deep to prevent the Welsh team going over the line. They were given a helping hand when an over-eager forward came in at the side and the penalty went Bedford's way.

There was a hectic finale to the half which once again saw the hosts attacking before Bedford turned the ball over close to their own line. Dodge took a knock along the way and was also forced off early with Lee Dickson replacing him.

Bedford got the ball to touch but back came Ospreys with another attack but once again the Blues forwards did a great job in turning the ball and Hooley was able to clear before being clattered by Matthew Dodd who was carded for his effort as the halftime whistle went.

The second half was a more lively affair and Ospreys came out in determined fashion as Luke Price converted two early penalties. The first followed an infringement from the kickoff and the second came after an offside.

Bedford didn't panic at going 6-3 down and they soon inched ahead with the game's first try in the 50th minute. Patient build-up resulted in Adamson poking a sweet grabber kick through the Ospreys defence and Burns hurtled along the right wing to dot down the unconverted try.

Again though, Bedford's discipline failed them and Price made no mistake in making it 9-8 when the referee awarded Ospreys a penalty just a couple of minutes later.

Bedford were looking for another try and they got it on the hour mark after another series of good phases. Alex Rae, George Edgson and Alex Penny all got in on the act with some fine carries before the ball cannoned off an Osprey hand and into touch for a Blues lineout. Bedford collected the ball and got their maul into gear, but Ospreys defended well to stop it powering on. Regardless, Dickson saw the opportunity and drilled the ball to Le Bourgeois who showed great hands and feet to collect, dodge the tackle and dot down with Hooley adding the extras.

The job certainly wasn't done though and Ospreys, who are down to 14 after Rhys Williams was carded, came close to a try soon afterwards. The hosts found space down the right before Price kicked ahead and chased but Adamson had too much in the tank and passed him to ground the ball. The ref decided that the ball had been carried over much to everyone's surprise, and Ospreys came back again. They picked up a penalty and Price reduced the deficit to three once again.

The final ten really was cup rugby as both sides looked to exploit the slightest gap. Bedford were passing the ball in their typical fashion with Camilo Parilli-Ocampo and Ed Taylor linking up with Adamson, Czekaj and Packman - who seemed to have Ospreys bouncing off of him - but a breakthrough couldn't be found.

The Blues coughed up a late penalty which was belted down field but failed to find touch so it was returned by Packman. Ospreys got their hands on the ball and had one final attack, but Bedford held firm, turned the ball over and Hooley coolly chipped it to touch to seal the win.

Bedford face Nottingham in the final game of the pool stages of the B&I Cup next Saturday at Goldington Road knowing a win will seal top spot and a possible home tie in the quart-final.

Come on you Blues!

A big thank you to the Huw Evans Agency and Ospreys for kindly providing images

 

Next Home Match

Saturday 28th April
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road
Kick-Off
3.00pm

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