RFU Championship: Bedford Blues 27 Nottingham 25
Ben Ransom’s last gasp try gave Bedford Blues a dramatic 27-25 win against Nottingham at Goldington Road this afternoon, writes Michael Hann.
Bedford struggled to get to grips with their opponents in the first half and conceded three tries in the opening 40 minutes.
Nottingham captain Brent Wilson was the first man to go over for the Green and Whites, while Nic Rouse and Rhys Crane also got on the scoresheet.
James Pritchard did score a penalty for the Blues, but they trailed 22-3 at half time.
Bedford rallied after the break and scored two tries of their own, but they looked to be heading for their first defeat of the season, until the twelfth minute of injury time when Ransom came up with a winner.
Bedford made four changes to the side that beat London Scottish last time out. Loosehead prop, Darren Fearn, made his debut while Ian Vass came in for his first start of the season at fly-half. Josh Bassett and Paul Tupai also started in place of the injured James Stephenson and Ben Gulliver.
Nottingham started the match brightly and after a good spell of early pressure took the lead when James Arlidge converted a penalty deep in the Blues’ half.
The Green and Whites were looking like a force to be reckoned with and they extended their lead just minutes later when captain Wilson touched down in the corner. Arlidge converted and the Blues were now 0-10 down.
Bedford needed to find a response from somewhere but they were struggling to grasp the nettle as they kept giving away possession through basic errors.
However, they did manage to get their first points on the board when they won a penalty that captain Pritchard converted.
But any chance of a first half comeback was dampened as Nottingham scored their second try of the match, Rouse the man bundling the ball over the line.
And the Green and Whites continued their dominance when they scored their third try of the half. Winger Crane intercepted a Blues pass and, although the home side appealed for an offside, Crane flew clear to put the ball underneath the posts. Arlidge converted and Bedford went into the break 22-3 down, leaving them with a mountain to climb.
The Blues got the start to the second half they needed when scrum-half Darryl Veenendaal dived over. Bedford had enjoyed a good spell of pressure in the opposition half and Veenendaal made a charge for the line, scoring the Blues’ first try of the match.
Pritchard converted, but Nottingham replied instantly as Arlidge sent a drop-goal through the posts.
Green and Whites prop, Michael Holford, was then sent to the sin bin and Bedford made the most of the extra man when they were awarded a penalty try after Nottingham repeatedly infringed on their own try line.
Nottingham then had a chance to give themselves some breathing space when they won a penalty, but Aridlge missed it and Pritchard made them pay when he converted one of his own moments later.
With the clock ticking down and the Blues needing a try, the lively Ransom had a good opportunity to score when he cut through the Nottingham defence with a mazy run, exchanging passes with Pritchard in the process. But when the ball came back to him he knocked it forward and the chance looked to have gone.
However, referee Darren Gamage continued to let the game carry on past 90 minutes and Ransom redeemed himself as he powered through the Nottingham defence to score.
Goldington Road erupted as Pritchard converted, giving the Blues the victory out of the clutches of defeat.
Blues: Darren Fearn (Phil Boulton 49), Neil Cochrane, Ricky Reeves (Dan Seal 78), Paul Tupai, Mike Howard, Alex Rae, Darren Fox (Sacha Harding 54),Tom Armes (Gregor Gillanders 49), Darryl Veenendaal (Luke Baldwin 53), Ian Vass (Jake Sharp 53), Josh Bassett, Mark Atkinson, Ben Ransom, Ollie Dodge (Brendan Burke 62), James Pritchard (C). T: Veenendaal, Penalty Try, Ransom. C: Pritchard 3. P: Pritchard 2.
Notts: Matthew Parr (Ryan Bower 78), Joseph Duffey, Michael Holford, Daniel Montagu, Nicholas Rouse, Rupert Cooper, Brent Wilson (C) (Thomas Calladine 74), Alexander Shaw, Sean Romans, James Arlidge, Rhys Crane, Joe Munro (Joe Cobden 78), Timothy Streather, David Jackson, Andrew Savage. Replacements not used: Scott Wright, Joseph Quinn, Finlay Barnham, Rory Lynn. T: Wilson, Rouse, Crane. C: Arlidge 2. P: Arlidge. DG: Arlidge.
Referee: Darren Gamage.
Touch Judges: Nicholas Cockburn, Simon McConnell.
Star Blue: Ben Ransom. Was energetic throughout and got Bedford out of jail with a last-gasp try.