Jersey 26 Bedford 1421/09/2013
Jersey 26 Bedford Blues 14
Greene King IPA Championship
by Tom Innes
Jersey bounced back from the disappointment of their opening day defeat to notch an impressive victory over last season's finalists.
While Bedford boss Mike Rayer was a bitterly disappointed man at his team's high error count, Jersey's Ben Harvey was purring at the committed 80-minute display delivered by his side.
"We really needed to put in a strong showing today, not just for
ourselves but for our home crowd," said the Island side's Director
of Rugby. "We bounced back really well and to stop a good attacking
side like Bedford from scoring a point in the second half was a
The home side didn't make a perfect start, conceding a penalty in the opening minute; Blues skipper James Pritchard claimed the points and doubled the lead soon afterwards. But Jersey were soon back in it - fly-half Niall O'Connor, who missed his side's first league game through injury, executed a precision cross-kick which winger Ed Dawson claimed and crossed for the try.
Jersey's narrow lead became a significant one when O'Connor slotted a penalty and then converted his side's second try, scored by flanker Fred Silcock from a textbook lineout manoeuvre.
Needing to get back into the game before the break, Blues made a rare surge into Jersey territory, with Mark Atkinson breaking through and getting within five metres of the try-line. Quick ball was fed via Brendan Burke to Pritchard who finished well by the corner flag.
O'Connor had an early chance to extend Jersey's advantage after
the resumption with a penalty awarded for a high tackle, and the
Ulsterman made no mistake, and then stretched his side's advantage
to 12 points just before the hour.
The final quarter was scoreless, with Bedford enjoying the majority of possession but thwarted by a combination of handling errors and strong Jersey defence. Former Jersey player Michael Le Bourgeois showed a few flashes in attack after replacing the injured Pritchard, and Burke came agonisingly close to a late score that would have earned a losing bonus point.
Rayer was left to lament an unforced error-count which he estimated at around 25 'offences'.
"The first half was especially bad, we couldn't put more than three phases together, and it wasn't that much better later on," he said. "Rugby's a simple game, but when you can't do the basics right it's hugely frustrating. Jersey got points pretty much every time they got into our half."
Jersey: Pointer, Foster, McCrea, Bishop, Dawson, O'Connor, Griffiths; McCarthy, Taione, Young (Selway 64), Campbell (Markham 74), Rae (capt), Maidment (Buckle 64), Silcock, Brown. Replacements not used: Stratford, Fidler, Williams, Penberthy.
Bedford Blues: Pritchard (capt) (Le Bourgeois 56), Dodge, Burke, Atkinson, Edwards, Sharp, Baldwin (Veenendaal 61); Auterac (Steenkamp 66), Spurling (Clare 66), Boulton (Cooper 64), Howard, Gulliver, Armes (Barrell 53), Fox (Tupai 64), Vandermolen.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Men-of-the-match (chosen by match sponsor HSBC): Niall O'Connor and Elvis Taione (Jersey)
Bedford Blues' Followers man-of-the-match: Mark Atkinson
Tries: Dawson 7, Silcock 17
Conversions: O'Connor 7, 17
Penalties: O'Connor 9, 25, 46, 57
Try: Pritchard 37
Penalties: Pritchard 1, 5, 29