Blues return empty-handed from Yorkshire

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RFU Championship: Yorkshire Carnegie 15 Bedford Blues 8

Bedford Blues were unfortunate to come away from Headingley with just a losing bonus point on Sunday, as they were beaten 15-8 by Yorkshire Carnegie despite outplaying their hosts.

A late Jake Sharp try ensured the Blues didn’t leave Yorkshire empty handed, but they will be frustrated they weren’t able to convert much of their territory and possession into points on the scoreboard.

Yorkshire Carnegie, who had Sir Ian McGeechan in charge for the first time, scored a try either side of half time through David Doherty and Oli Goss and will no doubt be relieved to secure a victory from a match where they were under the cosh in right up until the final whistle.

On a sunny but cold afternoon in Leeds, both sides started the game looking to move the ball through the hands.

The visitors started the better though and were on the front foot immediately, moving the ball from one wing to another with real intent.

Despite their expansive approach to the match, Bedford failed to breach a Carnegie defence that were able to win early penalties out of referee David Proctor, allowing them to get some territory of their own.

Using that field position, Yorkshire was able to create the first real opening of the match.

A David Leonard penalty from 38 metres out was sliced wide after Bedford were penalised for being offside, before the fly-half executed a lovely chip over the defence with winger Doherty awaiting to collect.

However the bounce of the rugby ball favoured the Blues this time as it went into touch, meaning it was still 0-0 after 20 minutes.

On 28 minutes the first points were scored, and it was an eye-catching show and go by Pete Lucock in midfield to give the hosts quick ball in the opponents’ 22.

The ball was then spun left to right to find Jonah Holmes, but the left winger was met by a Pat Tapley and Baden Kerr sandwich to prevent him from close range.

With backs stuck at the bottom of a ruck, quick Carnegie ball allowed Doherty to speed through a gap in midfield to touch down.

Leonard then converted before adding another penalty from the tee on 36 minutes to send the hosts into half time 10-0 up.

Even though there was an imposing ‘nil’ next to them on the scoreboard, Bedford were more than in the game and started the second 40 with great tempo.

Tapley on the right wing had a couple of opportunities to show his speed by racing down the touchline, but the covering defence managed to halt him in his tracks both times just before the whitewash.

The Blues first points did arrive after 50 minutes via a Kerr penalty, the New Zealander punishing the hosts for not rolling away in the ruck when defending their line 15 metres out.

Just when it looked like they were starting to control proceedings further, McGeechan’s side fought back and gave Mike Rayer’s team a sucker-punch after 56 minutes.

A couple of exquisite offloads by Doherty and Chris Jones created space out wide before the ball found its way to centre Oli Goss to collapse over the try line, and send Carnegie’s support into rapturous applause.

Yorkshire was clinical in their attacking play, as their only real venture into the Bedford 22 in the second half ended with them securing a five pointer.

Blues showed great character in continuing to dominate possession and territory; however they couldn’t match that with a final pass that would see them score their first try of the afternoon.

With Luke Baldwin – who was making his first appearance since re-joining Bedford on the field, they were able to probe the Carnegie defence further and really stretch their opponents’ fitness levels.

Before finally, on 69 minutes, the team from Goldington Road turned their pressure into points via a try from substitute Sharp.

The replacement fly-half was able to spot a gap in midfield before nonchalantly grounding the ball after a run from close range, a score that brought the visitors to within a score of Yorkshire.

Knowing that, Bedford continued to create and it looked like they were going to draw level late on as Steffan Jones made a lovely break down the left wing.

However, as it was for most of the afternoon luck continued to evade the Blues and their possession in Yorkshire’s 22 failed to lead to points, to continue their winless record at Headingley.

Yorkshire Carnegie: Charlie Beech (Jack Walker 65), Phil Nilsen (Lee Imiolek 65), Paul Hill (James Tideswell 72), Chris Jones (Matt Smith 65), Mike Myerscough, Jarad Williams, Chris Walker (Josh Bainbridge 75), Ryan Burrows (C); Chris Pilgrim, Harry Leonard, Jonah Holmes (Sam Egerton 65), Pete Lucock (Jon Clarke 56), Oli Goss, David Doherty, Christian Georgiou.

T: David Doherty, Oli Goss. C: Harry Leonard. P: Harry Leonard.

Bedford Blues: Billy Moss (Camilo Parilli-Ocampo 54), TJ Harris (Charlie Clare 69), James Currie (Phil Boulton 54), Mike Howard (Josh Buggea 65), Ben Gulliver, Paul Tupai, Nick Fenton-Wells (C), Hayden Thompson-Stringer; Darryl Veenendaal (Luke Baldwin 56), Baden Kerr, Henry Staff, Viliami Hakalo (Jake Sharp 65), Michael Le Bourgeois, Pat Tapley, Steffan Jones.

Replacement not used: Harry Wells.

T: Jake Sharp. P: Baden Kerr.

Referee: David Proctor.

Touch judges: Phil Waters and Brian Ravenhill.

Attendance: 1,846.