Bedford Blues 25 Jersey 2004/10/2014
Following heavy rain in the morning, conditions at Goldington road were always going to be tricky, and it was Jersey playing down the slope who quickly got to grips with things.
With only 3 minutes on the clock, Bell collected a Bedford clearance kick and returned well before off-loading in the tackle to Locke who made no mistake to touch down for the first score of the afternoon that went uncoverted.
Bedford hit back with a penalty kick by Pritchard, before Bell extended the Reds lead with a superb strike from his own half to leave the visitors with a narrow 3-8 lead.
Jersey maintained dominance throughout most of the first period, particuarly in the lineout where they stole a lot of possession. The now trade-mark 'catch and drive' routine was used to good effect to keep the hosts on the back foot, but despite creating numerous chances the Reds couldn't capitalise on any of them as final passes went astray, and 3-8 was how it stayed.
Bedford were a different side after the restart, and scored almost straight away. Griffiths, who had looked threatening throughout the first half had a clearance kick charged down. The ball popped up on the Bedford side and they worked it through the hands to fullback, Pritchard who crossed in the corner to level the scores.
In a topsy-turvy half that saw the lead change hands 5 times, it was Bedford who were to score next through a Pritchard penalty. The lead only last 2 minutes though before Griffiths got a try for Jersey as he broke from the back of a driving maul. Bell converted and the score stood at 11-15.
Next on the scoresheet were the Blues following good work by wing, Wigglesworth who carved his way through the Jersey defence before releasing opposite winger Tapley to score under the posts for a converted try; 18-15.
Jersey wrestled the lead back when Martin Garcia-Vega emerged from the bottom of a pile of bodies after a successful catch and drive, but Bell was unable to add the extras and as the clock ticked down Jersey held a narrow 18-20 advantage.
With both sides looking nervy, Jersey killed the ball in defence and McCrea was shown yellow. Moments later Bedford capitilised on the man-advantage to score what turned out to be the winning points with a converted try by Sharp.
Jersey did have an opportunity in injury time to win the game with a BP try and maximum points as Bell carefully stroked a penalty deep into the Bedford 22. Replacement hooker Harris was unable to hit his man from the subsequent lineout as there was a lifting error; Bedford cleared and then held on for the win.
After the game Chairman, Dempsey expressed disappointment, but reflected on how well Bedford had played. He concluded by saying, "From the possession and domination that we had in the first half, we paid the price for not having registered a bigger lead by half-time".
Report by William Church
Picture by Nigel Rudgard
Pritchard, Tapley, Le Bourgeois, Dodge, Wigglesworth, Sharp, Veenendaal, Moss, Clare, Currie, Howard (YC), Sheriff, Tupai, Blanchett, Fenton-Wells (c).
Saunders, Parilli-Ocampo, Wells, Vandermolen, White, Jones, Hakalo.
Bell, Pointer, Locke, Hoskins, McCrea (YC), Bentley, Griffiths, Lockwood (YC), Garcia-Vega, Heriott, Phillips, Rae (c), Haining, Hodson, Noone.
Harris, Lancuba, Brennan, Markham, Kaho, Glynn, Hoskins.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Half time: 3-8
Tries: Pritchard, Tapley, Sharp
Conversions: Pritchard (2)
Penalties: Pritchard (2)
Tries: Locke, Griffiths, Garcia-Vega
Conversions: Bell (1)
Penalties: Bell (1)