British & Irish Cup, Pool Two: Bedford Blues 87 Stirling County 10
Bedford Blues produced one of the most one-sided displays you will ever see to beat Stirling County 87-10 at Goldington Road this afternoon, writes Michael Hann.
The Goldington Road crowd, awash with the pink for Ladies Day, witnessed Bedford run in seven first half tries including two from Mark Kohler.
The home side managed another six in the second period as they eased their way to back-to-back wins in the British & Irish Cup.
Bedford made seven changes to the team that started against Bedwas last weekend. Paul Tupai and Joe Vandermolen came into the Blues’ forward line while Luke Baldwin, Josh Bassett, Mark Atkinson, Brendan Burke and James Pritchard started amongst the backs.
It took the Blues just 58 seconds to grab the game’s first try. A quickly-taken Baldwin penalty got the move started and after several phases the ball was worked out wide to Mark Kohler who scored.
Pritchard missed the tricky conversion but the Blues had made a fantastic start.
Stirling then got their first points of the afternoon when they won a penalty after the Blues didn’t release in the tackle and Brian Archibald stepped up to pull three points back for the visitors.
However, the Blues were in no mood to let their Scottish opposition back into the match and an incisive breakaway saw Atkinson sidestep his man before off-loading to Pritchard who scored.
And it didn’t take Bedford long to score their third try of the match – Baldwin the man going over this time.
The Blues won a lineout 25 metres from the Stirling line and the Bedford forwards stepped into action driving the opposition defence back to a metre out.
From the resulting breakdown scrum-half Baldwin spotted a gap underneath the posts and dived over the line.
The Blues were looking well in control of the match and they had their fourth try within half an hour.
A Bedford lineout 10 metres from the try line was won by prop Darren Fearn who crashed over the whitewash.
Winger Kohler then scored his second after clever off-loads from Atkinson and Jake Sharp cut the Stirling defence apart.
Bedford were running riot and Tupai was the next man to get on the scoresheet when he capped off another flowing passing move that Stirling couldn’t cope with.
And the hosts scored their seventh right on half time when a lineout produced another powerful maul, giving Vandermolen the chance to score.
Pritchard needed the help of the post with his conversion, but Bedford went into the half time break with a 47-3 lead.
Stirling head coach Graeme Young gave his players plenty to think about at the interval as he conducted his half time team talk on the pitch.
But it didn’t seem to have any effect as Bedford picked up from where they left off as they scored again just after the restart.
Baldwin’s quickly-taken tap penalty went unnoticed by the Stirling players and he raced 60 metres downfield to score.
Atkinson then extended the Blues’ lead further as he capitalised on Josh Bassett’s searing break to touch down.
The visitors did mange to pull one try back moments later when Stuart Edwards made the most of some slack Bedford defending and Archibald converted as Stirling crept into double figures.
But Bedford reaffirmed their dominance shortly afterwards as some more heavy pressure resulted in Darren Fox bundling the ball over the line.
Pritchard then got his second of the afternoon when Burke played him in and the Blues skipper added the extras as Bedford led 73-10.
Burke was the next man to cross after Bedford turned the ball over in a dangerous area, allowing the Blues centre to run through and score.
And Bedford completed their demolition of the RBS Premiership side when they were awarded a penalty try after Stirling kicked the ball out the side of the scrum on their own line.
The game drew to a close with Bedford taking the points and putting themselves in the driving seat at the top of Pool Two in the process.
Blues: Darren Fearn, Neil Cochrane (Dan Seal 48), Ben Cooper (Phil Boulton 60), Paul Tupai (Mike Howard 60), Alex Rae, Gregor Gillanders (Sacha Harding 60), Darren Fox, Joe Vandermolen (Don Barrell 48), Luke Baldwin (Ali Price 48), Jake Sharp, Josh Bassett, Mark Atkinson, Brendan Burke (Ollie Dodge 66), Mark Kohler, James Pritchard (C). T: Kohler 2, Pritchard 2, Baldwin 2, Fearn, Tupai, Vandermolen, Atkinson, Fox, Burke, Penalty Try. C: Pritchard 11.
Stirling: Michael McDonald (Colin Hutton 24), Alex Moffat (C) (Reyner Kennedy 61), Garry Mountford, Ruaridh Leishman (Ross Aitken 40), Craig Deacons, Adam Ashe, Robbie Boswell, Steve Swindall (Tim Clarke 40), Sean Kennedy (Stephen Gillies 68), Stuart Edwards, Matt Lamb (Struan Robertson 40), Brian Archibald (Jonnie Hope 59), Danny Gilmour, Graham Lindsay, Ben Addison. T: Edwards. C: Archibald. P: Archibald.
Referee: Steve Lee.
Touch Judges: Michael Tutty and Dino Maddern.
Star Blue: Luke Baldwin. The Blues scrum-half was a constant threat throughout and he topped off his performance with two tries.