Blues Academy slay Gwent Dragons
The Bedford Blues Academy opened their pre-season games with an encouraging 17-8 victory at Gwent Dragons Academy.
It was the first of games against Welsh RU-funded Regional Academies, with the North Wales Regional Academy set to visit Bedford this week.
Academy director Denis Ormesher said: “With a long day, a very early start, and a group of players coming together for the first time, this was an encouraging performance, against one the top Welsh Regions.
“The games had lots of positives and also helped us to identify lots of areas we need to work on.
“Our finishing was not good enough. We gave too much ball away from some basic mistakes and poor finishing.
“However this is still very early in our preparations and, although the Dragons had a number of their top players away on tour with Wales U18s in South Africa, and we had an age advantage, it was still good to see how the new squad have started to come together so early in the season.”
The Blues included nine players making their debuts.
England U18 players, flanker Shaq Meyers and fly-half Joe Tarrant, who joined the Blues last year, were joined by the new second row pairing of ex-Bedford School pupil Luke Carter and former ex-Llandovery College student Alex Ruck.
Winger Mike DiPonio (ex-St Joseph’s School Ipswich) was also in the starting line-up with flanker Stefan Hughes-Brand (Hitchin), scrum-half Callum Gillie (Buckingham) and ex-Bedford School trio, Jack Simpson and wingers Mike Palladino and Toby Lynes, on the bench.
After losing in the final play of the corresponding game last season the Blues expected a tough encounter against one of the five Welsh Regional Academies funded by the Welsh RU.
The Blues took the lead after 10 minutes when, from a turnover ball just outside the Bedford 22, a counter-attack involving several players put winger DiPonio away to score in the right hand corner.
The Dragons hit back when the Blues conceded a scrum penalty and the Dragons full-back scored a penalty from just inside the Blues half to narrow the gap to 5-3.
Bedford extended the lead when DiPonio was held up over the line and from the five-metre scrum the Blues moved the ball for centre Felix Streeton to cut back inside to score. He also converted as the Blues led 12-3 at half time.
The second half saw Bedford pressurise the Dragons frequently, but too often the final pass was spilled, or an over-enthusiastic offload failed.
Dragons narrowed the gap to four points when a well-worked move was finished in the corner with a try, but Bedford sealed victory as, from a turnover ball deep in their own half, Gillie broke blind and had the pace to score in the corner.
North Wales Regional Academy (Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404) visit Goldington Road on Saturday in a new fixture for the Blues.
The team was set up in 2008 to help develop the game in North Wales and the Welsh RU has invested £6.5million in a state-of-the-art stadium in Eiras Park in Colwyn Bay, which was opened last November as the home of the Academy with an indoor training centre, gym, high performance sports analysis facilites and a 2,000 seater stand.
The Blues will also play RGC 1404 in Colwyn Bay in December, and Ormesher added: “We are looking forward to welcoming North Wales to Goldington Road next Saturday.
“This is a new fixture for the Blues, and will be another valuable step in our preparation for the season.”
Blues: George Stuffins, Alex Bloisi, Matt Collins, Alex Ruck, Luke Carter, Ben Latimer (VC), Shaq Meyers, Danny Hartwell, Alex Smit, Joe Tarrant, Nick Coward, Nathan Donnachie, Felix Streeton (capt), Mike DiPonio, Will Simmonds.
Replacements: Connor Adams, Ben Brownlie, Mitch Akroyd, Jack Warrior, Stefan Hughes-Brand, Jack Simpson, Callum Gillie, Brandon Lewsey, Michael Palladino, Toby Lynes.
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Weather for Bedford
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 15 C
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