Bedford Blues battle past Army despite stirring second half fightback
Mobbs Memorial Match: Bedford Blues 43 (26) The Army 29 (0)
A fast-paced encounter at Goldington Road tonight saw the Bedford Blues hold off a stirring Army comeback to win the Mobbs Memorial Match 43-29, writes Mark Wood.
The game got under way with a bang from the Army’s artillery on the sidelines, but it was Bedford that showed off their firepower with four first half tries to lead 26-0 at the break with scores from Luke Baldwin, Sam Stanley, Mark Kohler and Jack Wilson, with Stanley converting three.
The Army showed plenty of grit and determination after the interval as they scored five tries playing up the slope. Luke Bellinger started their fightback with a try, electric winger Sam Speight starred with a hat-trick and James Read also touched down with Ceri Cummings converting two, but further Blues scored from Tom Armes, Joe Vandermolen and Mike Stanway, plus another Stanley conversion, sealed a hard-fought win for Bedford.
The Blues line-up was an assorted mixture of talents with five Saracens men in the starting XV, along with a second row of American and Cambridge University student Nat Brakeley and Exeter lock Will Carrick-Smith, who has been on loan at Plymouth.
Exciting Blues Academy product and England U18 starlet Aaron Morris started at full-back, Old Albanians winger and England Sevens man Ollie Marchon impressed throughout and a number of Academy youngsters were also given the chance to shine on the night, while a competitive Army side was led from the front by Bedford Blues prop Ricky Reeves.
The encounter is often used an opportunity for the Blues to look at prospective first-teamers and director of rugby Mike Rayer must have been impressed with a number of players, not least some of the youngsters on display and pacy winger Marchon.
Bedford were on the front foot from the start and went close on 11 minutes when Kohler found Saracens’ Stanley on the wing but he was forced into touch by the corner flag.
Sarries prop Jared Saunders was forced off after 15 minutes with a bloodied nose as Cambridge man Tom Fidler came on in his place.
A quickly-taken tap penalty by Baldwin saw Bedford threaten midway through the first half, but it came to nothing.
Winger Marchon made good yards with a fleet-footed burst and a couple of quick penalties later saw Baldwin scoot in by the posts on 24 minutes with Stanley converting.
And just three minutes later the Blues were in again as Stanley scythed through the Army’s defence before converting himself.
Bedford were working the phases well and got a deserved third try just before the break when the impressive Marchon again made yards and captain Ian Vass and Academy player Morris combined to put Kohler in at the corner as Stanley added a magnificent touchline conversion.
And there was time for a fourth in injury time as a Vass miss-pass put in Sarries wing Wilson, but this time Stanley’s conversion went just wide as Bedford led 26-0 at the break.
Bedford made two changes at the break as Fidler and Saracens star Andy Saul came on for Saunders and Jacques Burger, but it failed to put them off their stride.
Wilson hacked through early on and Blues back-rower Armes touched down with Stanley adding the easy extras.
The Army hit back two minutes later as Bellinger was allowed to nip through from a lineout, but Cummings’ conversion attempt faded past the near post.
The action continued to come thick and fast as Vandermolen then battered his way over the line for an unconverted score as Bedford led 38-5.
Army winger Speight showed some electric pace to race over on 57 minutes for another unconverted try as replacements were made at regular intervals.
Speight was at it against seven minutes later, darting over in the same corner but this time Cummings converted as the men in red narrowed the gap to 38-17.
And Bedford’s lead was cut to just 16 points moments later when Read raced through a gaping hole in the Blues’ defence, although Cummings again missed his kick.
The action was fast and frenetic with both sides making errors and Bedford steadied the ship on 71 minutes when replacement and Academy starlet Stanway latched on to Morris’ kick to score, although Stanley missed a simple conversion attempt.
There was some concern for Bedford as Ben Brownlie received extended treatment but was able to be helped from the field, and the Army took full advantage to score their fifth try playing up the hill with five minutes to go.
And it was that man Speight again who joined the line at pace to streak over the line with Cummings on target once again with his kick.
Right at the death Wilson was denied going for the corner and the referee swiftly whistled to draw an entertaining encounter to a close.
Blues: Jared Saunders (Tom Fidler 15 blood, 41), Chris Locke, Ben Cooper, Nate Brakeley (Dave Shotton 52), Will Carrick-Smith (Ben Brownlie 65, Joe Tarrant 76), Tom Armes, Jacques Burger (Andy Saul 41), Joe Vandermolen, Luke Baldwin (Darryl Veenedaal 61), Ian Vass (C), Ollie Marchon (Mike Stanway 61), Sam Stanley, Mark Kohler, Jack Wilson, Aaron Morris. T: Baldwin, Stanley, Kohler, Wilson, Armes, Vandermolen, Stanway. C: Stanley 4.
Army: Ricky Reeves (Nathaniel Titchard-Jones 41), Greig Filler (Matt Dwyer 35), Chris Budgen (Ken Dowding 67), Luke Bellinger (Stephen George 64), Daryl Ball, Matty Bowman (Chris Munday 53), Knoxy Laqekoro, Ledua Jope, Tom Chennell (Ian Martin 41), Nabukebuke (James Dixon 48), Peceliu Nacamavuto, Bakoso, Sam Speight, Ceri Cummings. T: Bellinger, Speight 3, Read. C: Cummings 2.
Referee: Simon Harding.
Assistant Referees: Max Barnard and Tom Lyes.
>> In the curtain-raiser to the Mobbs encounter, East Midlands, containing Bedford Athletic’s Stephen Woodhead, had beaten the Army A team 28-8.
Coventry centre Heath Stevens had given the Midlanders the lead on 12 minutes with Lawrence Rayner of Old Albanians converting.
The Army hit back with a penalty, but a forwards try from lock Matt Mills (Old Northamptonians) converted by Rayner saw the home side lead 14-3 at oranges.
In the second half Mills touched down again on 58 minutes with Canterbury’s Scott Browne converting, before a rolling maul saw Leicester Lions’ Tom Williams cross with Browne again on target. The Army outfit scored a late converted try but it was nowhere near enough.
East Midlands: Tom Williams (Leicester Lions), Jordan Brew (Old Northamptonians), Michael Cade (Old Albanians), Rhys Hughes (Old Northamptonians), Matt Gibbs (Nuneaton), Matt Mills (Old Northamptonians), Greg Mathers (Old Northamptonians), Brett Daynes (Coventry), Lawrence Rayner (Old Albanians), Stephen Woodhead (Bedford Athletic), Heath Stevens (Coventry), Adam Barnard (Shelford), Joe Marston (Leicester Lions), Delarey Veenendaal (Old Albanians). Replacements: Chris Elliott (Bedford Athletic), Zac Osborne (Towcestrians), Sam Howes (Old Northamptonians), Peter White (Stourbridge), Ross Kevan (Cambridge), Scott Browne (Canterbury), Jack Green (Coventry), Tom Harris (Coventry). T: Stevens, Mills 2, Williams. C: Rayner 2, Browne 2.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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