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Match Reports

Jersey Reds 45 Bedford Blues 5

20/12/2022

The Reds took advantage of the postponement of Ealing Trailfinders’ game at Caldy to move to the top of the Championship as they swept past Bedford Blues.

As well as scoring seven tries, the Reds kept a clean sheet until the final play of the match and came away with a 12th consecutive league win, including from 10 from 10 across the 2022/23 season thus far.

The home side’s ability to put the Blues under pressure was evident from the early stages, and when Russell Bennett fired two penalties into opposite corners – the second with a 65-metre kick the Jersey maul rumbled over the line to set up a brace of tries for Eoghan Clarke.

Persistent offending brought a yellow card for Bedford’s Robin Williams, and Jersey wing Tomi Lewis then sliced straight through for his side’s third try after a well-timed inside pass from Charlie Powell.

The bonus point came right on half-time after Brendan Owen had raced towards the corner but then found Bedford’s Matt Worley when he passed inside. Worley had no option but to ground the ball after his momentum took him over the try-line, setting up the first scrum of the game, and the Reds used a penalty advantage to mount a series of attacks that eventually saw Steve Longwell cross from close range.

A handling error two minutes after the resumption invited more pressure on the visitors and after a series of scrums Tim Grey claimed a pushover score. The penalty count remained high, and prop Lewis Holsey became the second Bedford player ordered off for 10 minutes.

Thereafter the home side were able to attack with more flair, including an eye-catching run and dummy from Hamish Bain that led to fellow second row Macauley Cook scoring from Owen’s pass, and then Will Brown crossed in the corner from Russell Bennett’s pass after Blues were shoved off their own scrum ball.

In spite of losing Greg McGrath to the sin-bin, the Reds were pushing to bring up a half-century of points at the death with another close-range scrum on Bedford’s line, but on this occasion possession was disrupted by the outstretched arm of Blues’ Jake Garside, with the replacement scrum-half then showing lightning pace, both in his reaction to ‘play the whistle’ and scoop up the loose ball, and then to race 95 metres to the opposite end for the consolation score.

The last-play score meant the home side failed to record their biggest winning margin in a Championship game, which remains 43 from the 55-12 home win over Nottingham in April 2021, while the 40-point mark equalled the 47-7 win at London Scottish in September 2021.

Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said: “That was as close as we’ve come this season to delivering an 80-minute performance – perhaps it was 79, and I’ll settle for that. The whole squad brought a real focus to this game.

“We created a huge amount of pressure from our defence, our set-piece and our work at the breakdown, and all the players who came on added something.”

Biljon was excited at the prospect of the Christmas Eve summit meeting at Vallis Way, when the Reds will have the chance to test themselves against Ealing, who claimed a ‘full-house’ of 45 points from their first nine league games prior to the intervention of the weather.

“It’ll be an incredibly tough challenge for us, but as players and coaches these are the games you want to be involved in,” he said.

 

JERSEY REDS: Owen; Lewis (Hutler 50), Powell (McHenry 55), Barnes, Brown; Bennett, Law (Mitchell 48); Grahamslaw (McGrath 58, YC 79), Clarke (Harris 55), Longwell (Nicol 55), Bain, Cook (Everard 62), Argyle, Wynne (c), Grey (Dun 50).

BEDFORD BLUES: Worley; French, Elliott, Grayson (Litchfield 51), Tapley; Grimoldby (Maisey 51), Day (c) (Garside 55); Holsey (YC 47, Royston 60), Hughes (Burns 60), Heffernan (Dimen 46), Frost, Williams (YC 13), Wilkins (Irvine 60), Arthur (Rylands 60), Uru.

REFEREE: Mike Hudson. Assistants: Calum Howard, Darryl Chapman
Half Time: 26-0
Attendance: 1,090

Scorers
Jersey Reds
Tries: Clarke 5, 14, Lewis 27, Longwell 40, Grey 49, Cook 55, Brown 66
Conversions: Bennett 14, 27, 40, 49, 66

Bedford Blues
Try: Garside 80

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4 Feb 2023

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THE WATERING HOLE

Why not come and chillout in the ‘Watering Hole’ before the game? A full-bar and food is available and you can enjoy some live music after the game.