Bedford Blues were within seconds of drawing a third Greene King IPA Championship game when their very own Captain America came to the rescue to convert a penalty with the final kick of the game.

The Blues had cruised into a 15-0 half-time lead against Rotherham Titans at Clifton Lane thanks to tries from Rich Lane and Elliot Clements-Hill with the aforementioned Will Hooley converting one and kicking a penalty. But the home side, who are languishing at the foot of the Championship table, fought back valiantly thanks to a converted Rhodri Davies try, a Caolan Ryan penalty and a Jake Henry score to level the game with the clock ticking away.

But unlike the games against Doncaster Knights and London Scottish, the Blues struck the knockout blow after putting huge pressure on a Titans lineout on their own five metre line. The hosts fluffed their lines and were bundled into touch giving Bedford an attacking lineout which they secured and set up a drive. Rotherham strayed offside and the referee blew his whistle giving Hooley the chance to seal victory which he duly did.

Things had seemed plain sailing for the Blues early on as they dominated possession in the opening 40 minutes. Michael Le Bourgeois, Josh Buggea and Jarad Williams were keen to have the ball in hand while the front row of Ben Cooper, Tom Lindsay and Sean McCarthy were close by to clear any ruck that threatened to form.

Bedford’s pressure paid off as Rotherham were forced to put the ball to touch deep in their own 22. The Blues lineout and maul kicked into gear before an offside gave Hooley the opportunity to get the scoreboard rolling as the converted his effort to give the Blues a 0-3 lead in the 14th minute.

Four minutes later and the Blues got the opening score of the game. Following a rare Rotherham attack which resulted in a knock on, the Blues scrum did a solid job before the ball came out through Jordan Burns for the backs to run on the narrow Clifton Road pitch. Rotherham’s scrambled defence got back, but with a penalty advantage, Bedford surged on and Clements-Hill went over for the unconverted try.

Bedford continued to have the rub of the green with Howard Packman, Alex Rae and Will Carrick-Smith all creating chances but Rotherham, to their credit, defended well to stop the floodgates opening.

There was little that the home side could do in the 28th minute though when Bedford extended their lead with a well worked try. Having held up what looked like a sure try just seconds earlier, the powerful Blues scrum did its job before the ball came out to Lane who slid over for the score and Hooley added the extras.

Bedford had further opportunities in the first half but some basics - the Blues were guilty of dropping too many balls - were letting the lads down and it very almost came back to bite them on the bum.

A revitalised Rotherham came out for the second period and despite losing Rory Jennings to a yellow card, they got their scoring underway as Davies nipped through an opening in the Blues defence to score and Millar added the extras.

Ryan then converted a penalty after Rae was yellow carded in the 62nd minute and suddenly it was squeaky bum time for the Blues contingent both on and off the pitch as the Titans had the wind in their sails and looked the more likely to score again.

And they did just that with just eight minutes left on the clock as Henry finished off a fine move in the corner. Ryan’s attempted conversion was well struck, but it didn’t have the direction and the game was balanced at 15 all.

Bedford regrouped and their experienced replacements helped to settle nerves and move the Blues up for a final series of attacks. Jordan Onojaife, Alex Penny, Ed Taylor, Dave Spelman and Jacob Fields all made their mark up front while the cool head of Lee Dickson and smart running of Rory Hutchinson set the Blues on their way for the most nail-biting of finishes.

Thankfully, the Blues proved too canny for their opponents as they drew the penalty which Hooley slotted to spark some very relieved celebrations on the pitch.


Next Home Match

Friday 23rd August
1st XV Pre Season
Goldington Road