Bedford Blues capped off a fine season with a bonus point 28-12 win over Richmond which secured third place in the Greene King IPA Championship.

This was by no means a perfect victory, but it was typical Blues, as they ran in two late scores to seal the bonus point and finish only behind financial titans Bristol and Ealing Trailfinders in the league table.

It was squeaky bum time heading into the final few minutes with Bedford leading 14-12 and being penned in their own half by the visitors, but Rich Lane and Jordan Burns crossed in the dying moments to ensure everyone left Goldington Road in high spirits.

Speaking at full time, departing Blues coach Martin Hynes said: “I’ve really enjoyed working with and watching this gang of lads that we’ve got this year. Their a group of semi-professional guys who rock up, put a shift in for each other and I thought the spirit they showed today was fantastic. We did it the Bedford way and I’m so proud of the lads. No one else can finish a game like that and it’s what we’re all about.”

While a lot of attention heading into the final game of the season was focussed on the retiring Paul Tupai - who received a guard of honour from his teammates as he took the field - there was always the need for the Blues to secure a win with a bonus point to ensure third place in the table.

Richmond, of course, weren’t here to make up the numbers and playing down the slope they made good headway early on to pile pressure on the Bedford defence. Jordan Onojaife, Tupai and Alex Rae were in the middle of the action as the Blues repelled the attack before possession came their way.

A Bedford lineout saw a good maul moving forward before Lee Dickson and Michael Le Bourgeois linked up to create further space. Will Hooley started to spread the ball through Rory Hutchinson and Dean Adamson before yet another penalty came Bedford’s way.

With the ball punted to touch, Onojaife collected Tom Lindsay’s put-in and the maul moved forward. With the referee’s arm extended, the Blues had free ball and attacked with Dickson and Hutchinson combining to play in Elliot Clements-Hill for the try which Hooley converted splendidly.

Bedford looked to build on their lead but it almost cost them dearly when Hutchinson’s attempted grubber didn’t quite work and Richmond flanker Toby Saysell turned on the gas to hurtle into the Blues half only to be chopped down by the covering Rich Lane.

The Blues enjoying more of the ball and made that possession count in the 33rd minute with a second try. After Dickson was taken out in the air, Bedford opted for a five metre scrum from which Worthington charged forward like a bullock and, despite being tackled, carried himself over the line for the try which Hooley converted.

But Richmond finished the half stronger and pulled a try back just before the interval. A storming maul was illegally disrupted by Sean McCarthy who was carded and from the resulting lineout, Jake Parker found a gap to score an unconverted try.

The second half started with a monumental attack from Bedford which went through some 25 phases. Tupai, Worthington, Ben Cooper, Onojaife, Taylor – everyone had the ball at some point as Bedford inched closer and closer to the Richmond try line. Credit to the visitors though, they dug deep, maintained pressure and forced the mistake as the ball went forward and relief was etched on their faces.

There then followed some 20 minutes of disjointed attack and defence from both sides who couldn’t break one another down. Replacements started flowing and there was a tremendous ovation as Tupai left the field for the very last time. Josh Buggea, Jacob Fields, Burns and Alex Penny all came into the frame and made good contributions with a notable Buggea disruption of an attacking lineout which should have seen the visitors score.

Richmond were enjoying plenty of the ball and they got their reward in the 67th minute when fly half Rory Damant saw space and chipped the ball over for Ben Rath to run on to and score with Rob Kirby converting to make it 14-12.

It looked as though Bedford were huffing and puffing, but it was more Ali on the ropes against Foreman as they responded in usual Blues style. A lineout resulted in Onojaife claiming the ball and setting the wheels in motion. Burns, Worthington, Buggea, Le Bourgeois and Ben Adams all carried well before Fields took the ball forward. Burns and Hooley combined with Lane finding space and the full back hurtled around the defence to score and Hooley quickly kicked the conversion as the clock struck 80.

The four minutes of stoppage to come, Bedford went straight on the attack as Richmond legs started to tire. The Blues took the ball from one side to the other and then into the middle before Burns spotted a gap and flew through it leaving Richmond double-taking before trying to get back but there was no chance as the scrum half dotted down.

Hooley took plenty of time before converting and then the Blues saw out the game in controlled fashion and celebrated accordingly as the final whistle blew.

So that’s it for the season. Bedford finish third in the table and reached the semi-final of the British & Irish Cup. Thank you to everyone for your support this season and see you all after the summer.


Next Home Match

Friday 23rd August
1st XV Pre Season
Goldington Road