RFU Championship: Bedford 15 Yorkshire Carnegie 10
A superb defensive effort secured a 15-10 victory for Bedford Blues over Yorkshire Carnegie at Goldington Road on Friday evening.
In what was the Blues’ first home match in four weeks, the hosts battled hard to earn their first victory in five weeks.
Tries from Darryl Veenendaal and Jim Wigglesworth were enough for Mike Rayer’s side who went above Yorkshire in the table with this victory, one that was down to a resilient defensive effort and a forward pack that dominated both the scrums and line-outs.
Yorkshire started the stronger of the two teams, with their back three looking dangerous in broken field.
The visitors thought they scored the first try after five minutes, when scrum-half Matt Dudman spotted a gap down the blindside of the ruck, but his opposite number Darryl Veenendaal managed to bundle him into touch just metres from his own line.
However it didn’t take long for Carnegie’s strong start to turn into points, when a flowing backs move after nine minutes led to the first try.
Rush defence from Bedford tried to stop the attack at source, but good hands from fly-half Harry Leonard freed up Jonah Holmes.
The full-back showed exhilarating pace to roar away from the Blues’ midfield, before isolating Jim Wigglesworth and passing to David Doherty to run half the length of the field to score in the left corner.
Leonard then stepped up and converted the try from the touch line to give Yorkshire, who were level on points with Bedford prior to kick-off, a seven point lead.
Bedford, who were playing up the slope in the first half, were looking to pay territory rugby with fly-half Jake Sharp trying to force the field position via kicks into the corner.
Rayer’s side had their first real attack after a quarter of an hour, when a turnover inside Yorkshire’s 22 almost led to a try for Dean Adamson, but the winger was bundled into touch.
Despite that, the Blues had to wait only a few more minutes to score when South African Darryl Veenendaal grounded for the Bedfordshire side.
One of Sharp’s kicks was superbly weighted into the corner, forcing the side from Yorkshire into a defensive line-out just five metres out.
Bedford’s pack managed to steal the set-piece and force a rolling maul on their unorganised opponents.
Carnegie’s pack stood firm, but only from the initial phase as scrum-half Veenendaal spotted a gap on the blindside defence and he burrowed his way over to score a deserved try for the hosts.
Sharp’s conversion just sailed past the posts, but Bedford were more than back in the game.
Yorkshire’s back three were consistently showing pace in attack, and looking dangerous whenever a tactical kick by Bedford was misplaced. Yet there were few opportunities for them to show that as the Blues’ kicking was consistently on the money, and pinning Carnegie’s attack deep.
Much of the match was dominated by the defences, and that was epitomised late in the first half by the resilient efforts of the Blues’ tackling.
Yorkshire thought they scored a try, but good work from winger Pat Tapley meant the visitors had to settle for an attacking scrum five metres out. Yet despite their position, they were unable to force a score as the rush defence of Bedford forced their opponents into a knock-on, a theme that would prove constant throughout the remaining stages of the match.
Showing his sides frustration, forward Matt Smith was sin-binned for committing foul-play, and Sharp punished the forward on the stroke of half time.
With the referee spotting an offside, Sharp stepped up to send the Blues into half time with a point advantage, a lead they were never going to give up.
It didn’t take long for Bedford to stretch their lead to eight in the second period, through a well worked try from Wigglesworth.
Having the Blues been awarded a penalty in a kickable position, skipper Paul Tupai ordered to go the corner and his bravery was rewarded.
The rolling maul was thwarted by the opposition, but the ball was spun wide and a lovely scissors move by the backs allowed the former Cambridge man Wigglesworth to skate under the sticks to score, Sharp’s conversion was easy enough and the Blues led by eight.
Yorkshire, who were being watched on by Sir Ian McGeechan, knew they had to score twice. Yet that never looked likely against a Bedford defence that was on top and a scrum that kept winning the hosts’ penalties.
The visitors ended up settling for a losing bonus point with the last play of the game, when fly-half Leonard kicked a penalty.
Bedford Blues: Camilo Parilli-Ocampo (Tom Williams 60), Charlie Clare (Jared Saunders 69), Phil Boulton (Ben Gulliver 35), Mike Howard, Paul Tupai, Justin Blanchet, Nick Fenton-Wells (c) (Josh Buggea 7), Joe Vandermolen; Darryl Veenendaal, Jake Sharp, Dean Adamson, Viliami Hakalo (Henry Staff 75), Ollie Dodge, Pat Tapley, Jim Wigglesworth (Nils Mordt 52).
Replacement not used: Peter White
T: Darryl Veenendaal and Jim Wigglesworth. C: Jake Sharp. P: Jake Sharp.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Lee Imiolek (Ben Harris 44), Jack Walker (Phil Nilsen 48), James Tideswell (Paul Hill 58), Nathan Hannay (Liam Edwards 69), Matt Smith, Jarad Williams, Chris Walker (Jack Barnard 58), Ryan Burrows (c); Matt Dudman (Chris Pilgrim 55), Harry Leonard, David Doherty (Oli Goss 65), Jon Clarke, Rob Vickerman, Christian Georgious, Jonah Holmes.
T: David Doherty. C: Harry Leonard. P: Harry Leonard.
Referee: John Meredith