The Reds held their nerve to take full points courtesy of Macauley Cook’s late try and set up a potential title decider against Ealing Trailfinders at Stade Santander International next Saturday.
The result, albeit it was in doubt until the dying moments meant the one-point gap between first and second in the Championship was maintained, with Ealing trouncing Caldy 73-14 at Vallis Way.
The home side were first to get into an attacking position courtesy of a long clearance by Sean French. The Reds won the lineout on their 22, but soon conceded a brace of penalties, both of which offered a chance to maul for the line, with Joel Conway finishing the second chance for the opening try.
Getting into the stride, the Reds gained an attacking platform thanks to Russell Bennett’s grubber into the opposing 22, and after the home side’s lineout was lost, the Reds piled on the pressure and soon Bennett put Owen into the gap for the try. Bennett’s conversion meant the visitors led by two.
A turnover in midfield saw the Reds hack forward, only to be called back for offside. The home side tried for a second try, but a handling error brought a scrum, and then a scrum penalty, to the Reds. A subsequent scrum pen saw the ball kicked into the Blue 22, and after a series of phases Eoghan Clarke powered over.
Tomi Lewis then went close in the corner, diving over spectacularly but being adjudged to have had a foot or knee in touch a split-second before he touched down.
With just under 10 minutes to play try-scorer Conway was sin-binned for yet another scrum offence, but his side survived until the break without further concession, and at the end were able to equalise with a last-play try as Tui Uru stretched over from a maul, with Will Maisey tying the scores with his conversion.
The home side went back to 15 soon after the resumption, as the Reds looked to take advantage of the Goldington Road slope and get back in front. Eventually they achieved this with a series of drives that left the home defence hanging on, leaving a gap that Owen raced through for his second, the straightforward conversion making it 12-19.
Any vision for Jersey supporters that the rest of the game might be easy was scotched when Bennett was on the receiving end of a big tackle and in trying to offload gave an intercept to Dean Adamson, who raced up the left flank to finish in the corner. A well-struck conversion by Maisey meant it was ‘even-Stevens’ again – 19 apiece.
There were chances for both side after that, the best for the Reds being a potential one-two between Ben Woollett and Cook with the return pass just not going to hand. There was also plenty of defensive duty for the visitors.
A key moment came when replacement Will Brown chased a James Mitchell box-kick and was taken out in the air as he jumped to catch. This left the Reds able to up the ante, first with an attacking lineout and then a series of scrums after Uru was binned for bringing down a maul.
The Blues scrum was under pressure and a penalty try looked possible, but the Reds played an advantage, Jordan Holgate went close and finally Mitchell popped the ball to Cook to pile over from close range.
With around three minutes to play, the Blues refused to give up, but could not cross halfway and eventually a handling error resulted in a scrum and a penalty. Bennett went for goal and missed, but it was immaterial as the final whistle blew immediately.
BEDFORD BLUES (15-9, 1-8): Rich Lane; Sean French, Ethan Grayson, Michael Le Bourgeois, Dean Adamson; Will Maisey, Alex Day (capt); Joey Conway (YC 32), James Fish, Corrie Barrett, Robin Williams, Tom Lockett, Emeka Atuanya, Luke Frost, Tui Uru (YC 73)
Replacements: Jack Hughes, Monty Royston, Osman Dimen, Alex Woolford, Charles Rylands, Jake Garside, Louis Grimoldby, George Hendy.
JERSEY REDS: Brendan Owen; Ben Woollett, Alex McHenry, Jordan Holgate, Tomi Lewis; Russell Bennett, James Elliott; Greg McGrath, Eoghan Clarke, Adam Nicol,, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Alun Lawrence.
Replacements (all used): James Hadfield, Sam Grahamslaw, Stevie Longwell, Hamish Bain, James Dun; James Mitchell, Charlie Powell, Will Brown.
Referee: Dan Jones. Assistants: Neil Chivers, Mike Woods.
Tries: Conway 5, Uru 39, Adamson 55
Conversions: Maisey 40, 55
Tries: Owen 14, 48, Clarke 27, Cook 76
Conversions: Bennett 14, 48, 76
18 May 2023
DoR pays tribute to leaving players after title-winning season