Bedford (A) 9.2.13


Bedford 38 Jersey 21
by Tom Innes

Pics by kind permission Nigel Rudgard Photography (click for link)

Two Man (576x 599)

Jersey's attempt to upset the 'fathers of the division' started promisingly, but then went downhill, both literally and metaphorically. By the time the final whistle went, the Islanders had been put to bed, and another Championship away-day had passed without anything to show for it.

Shortly before kick-off, Nicky Griffiths' first call as a Jersey captain was a correct one and enabled him to oblige Bedford to play down the Goldington Road slope in the first half, against their normal preference.

Jersey should have started the game in possession after taking the kick-off, but twice in the opening seven minutes the visitors failed to secure the ball, enabling Bedford to attack and win identical penalties for not rolling away, each converted clinically by the points machine that is James Pritchard.

Buckle (400x 267)

Jersey had received a chance of their own, for the same offence, and Bedford old boy Ross Broadfoot slotted it to keep his side in touch, although an athletic 'Aussie Rules' catch by Blues' Mike Howard was in contrast to Jersey's muddled efforts at the restart.

The Blues sought to extend their three-point advantage, running the ball wide whenever possible. Jersey's powerful scrum was kept under wraps until the 16th minute, and then conceded a free-kick on its first outing. But the visiting defence was solid - Dave Felton set the tone with one particularly committed effort, while Ed Dawson did well to haul down dangerous centre Mark Atkinson.

Bedford were sufficiently rattled to concede kickable penalties, first for foul play in centre-field, and then when prop Ricky Reeves failed to heed three requests from the referee to adjust his positioning at a lineout. Broadfoot slotted both, and with less than 10 minutes to the break Jersey had a narrow lead.

But Blues gained possession from the restart for the third time in four attempts and set up the chance to rumble over Jersey's line from a rolling maul for the game's opening try, hooker Neil Cochrane touching down.

Double Tackle (400x 267)

Jersey were competing well in the 15-a-side game, but by half-time the Islanders were a man short after yet another yellow card, maintaining this season's unfortunate average of one per match. This one seemed harsh - Chris Levesley had done nothing previously to upset the referee, and seemed to make a reasonable if unsuccessful attempt to roll away after a tackle. The penalty was the sixth Jersey had conceded in 40 minutes, which hardly put the Reds in the realms of serial offenders, but referee Macdonald saw it differently and Levesley was despatched to the bin, with the half-time whistle sounding straight after Pritchard had extended the punishment with a successful penalty to make it 14-9.

While Blues might have preferred to attack downhill after the break, they also knew that an early score in the opposite direction could be crucial. However their opening foray ended with a penalty to Jersey, still down to 14 men, and the chance for Broadfoot to clear his lines.

Maul (400x 267)

This turned out to be a critical moment: with no breeze and the pitch dipping invitingly down for his powerful left boot, Jersey's fly-half bit off more than he could chew, and his 60-metre touch-finder failed to do what it said on the tin. Bedford counter-attacked with intent, and fly-half Jake Sharp crossed in the corner.

A 10-point cushion was a bit more comfortable for the home side, and just before the hour the lead was extended to 26-9 thanks to another catch-and-drive try, Cochrane again claiming the try as well as the assist for his pin-point throw.

Jersey needed to respond quickly, and obtained what looked like an ideal platform with an attacking scrum. Jon Brennan seemed to be getting the measure of Reeves at the set-piece, but Jersey's rhythm was disrupted when replacement Dan Seal was introduced and the new man won a penalty.

But the visitors continued to press and good work by Tom Cooper and the most impactful of Jersey's replacements, Fred Silcock, brought a chance for Griffiths to pluck a scoring pass from below his knees and scuttle over.

Grif Tackle (400x 267)

Blues scrum-half Darryl Veenendaal had been one of his team's most dangerous runners, but his replacement by Luke Baldwin didn't diminish the threat - the new man spotted an opening outside another replacement, Jersey's Charlie Clare, and exploited the mis-match in pace to streak into the gap and set up the bonus point score for Atkinson.

Both sides' quest for bonus points was now over: Bedford's mission accomplished; Jersey's out of reach. Each team scored a further try, Ben Gulliver rounding off a galloping Blues' attack while Guy Thompson crossed in the final phase. The score by Jersey's energetic number 8 trimmed the margin of defeat to 17 points, which was no disgrace but also reminded his team that an opportunity may have been missed.

Jersey, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
Forwards: Richard Barrington, Dave Felton, Jon Brennan, Nathan Hannay, Dave Markham, Kingsley Lang, Joe Buckle, Guy Thompson. Half-backs: Nicky Griffiths (capt), Ross Broadfoot. Backs: Chris Levesley (YC 40+1), Tom Cooper, Max Stelling, Ed Dawson, Michael Le Bourgeois.
Replacements: Sean McCarthy for Barrington (47 mins), Charlie Clare for Felton (47), Fred Silcock for Buckle (55), James Gethings for Brennan (64), Ashley Maggs for Levesley (67), Talite Vaioleti for Lang (72). Not used: Dave McCormack.

Bedford: Ricky Reeves, Neil Cochrane, Ben Cooper, Mike Howard, Ben Gulliver, Gregor Gillanders, Tom Armes, Don Barrell, Darryl Veenendaal, Jake Sharp, Josh Bassett, Mark Atkinson, Ollie Dodge, James Stephenson, James Pritchard (capt). Replacements (all used): Chris Locke, Dan Seal, Phil Boulton, Joe Vandermolen, Darren Fox, Luke Baldwin, Brendan Burke

Referee: Greg Macdonald
Attendance: 2,242
Half-time: 14-9

Kickers: Pritchard (Bedford) 5 from 7; Sharp (Bedford) 0 from 1; Broadfoot (Jersey) 4 from 6



Tries:Cochrane 34, 56, Sharp 46, Atkinson 73, Gulliver 78

Conversions:Pritchard 57, 74

Penalties:Pritchard 3, 7, 40+2


Tries:Griffiths 66, Thompson 80+3

Conversion:Broadfoot 66

Penalties:Broadfoot 5, 26, 32


Pics by kind permission Nigel Rudgard Photography (click for link)

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