Understrength Swifts progress in Midlands Junior Vase

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Rugby: Bedford Swifts triumphed 29-19 at Skegness in the third round of the Midlands Junior Vase on Saturday.

Swifts had eight first team squad players unavailable as they had no backs cover on the bench.

This proved expensive when Dan Thomas injured himself in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Virgil Furguson, who had already played half a game for the seconds in a game that had kicked off an hour earlier.

After a two-and-a-hour journey Swifts pressed from the outset and took the lead through Sam Richbell’s penalty.

The hosts then gave away another penalty five yards from their like and quick-thinking Gareth Tindall tapped and drove over the line, leaving Richbell with an easy conversion.

Looking comfortable, Matt Taylor scored Swifts’ second try out wide, with Richbell again on target.

Skegness responded with two tries in quick succession, although Richbell kicked another penalty as Swifts led 20-12 at the break.

Swifts problems in the backs were exacerbated with the loss of counter-attacking full-back Ben Wooldridge with a pulled hamstring and Rob Rowland with a pulled quadricep.

Swifts had to adapt to survive, putting substitute hooker Nick Duggan on the wing, replacement prop Kenny Vase on the flank and flanker Tindall in the backs.

Heroic defence met wave-after-wave of Skegness attacks as they finally forced their way over for a converted try.

A massive hit by Tindall helped to silence the home side’s gargantuan winger, before the home side were driven off their own scrum.

Richbell kicked three more penalties to see Swifts home, for whom Tindall, hooker James Hartley and Andy Stock were outstanding.

Swifts’ seconds had also travelled to Skegness to play a round-robin game with Skegness and Barton, coming away with an aggregate 19-17 wins, thanks to tries from Simon Llewellyn, Dean Lofty and Pat Deane.

Coach Richbell added: “The atmosphere and attitude being shown by the players on the pitch and as importantly off the field is heartwarming, this club really is the place to be.”

This weekend they host Oundle in Midlands Four East South, while Bedford Queens entertain Stewarts & Lloyds in Midlands Three East South.