The Blues Academy U19s kicked off their season with a hard fought 26-14 win against London Scottish Academy on a scorching hot day at Goldington Road.
With the match played in three 30 minute periods, and London Scottish playing seven U20 players in the first and third periods – with the second period limited to U19s – the afternoon allowed both sides to test large squads.
The older Scottish players put Bedford under pressure in the set piece early on, but the Blues defence held, and the first period ended with no score for either side.
Bedford took an early lead in the second period when, from a good scrum in the Scottish 22, the Blues broke blind and scrum-half Archie Unstead scored in the corner.
The rest of the period was evenly balanced before Scottish scored two good tries in the last five minutes to end the third 14-5 ahead.
The third period belonged to Bedford. A Scottish lineout on their 22 was won and the Blues made good ground through two quick rucks in the centre, before full-back Liam Shields fed wing Ryan Hutler to score, converted by Shields, and it was 14-12 to Scottish.
Bedford, with their fitness allowing them to keep the pace high towards the end of the game, won a good set scrum ball, and fly-half Paddy McDuell put centre Aaron Martin in under the posts. Shields converted for a 19-14 lead.
Bedford continued to pressurise Scottish and ended the game with a similar score, this time with McDuell putting centre Tom Stapley in under the posts; Shields converted and the Blues were home by 26 points to 14.
Blues Academy director Denis Ormesher said: “At times we made some real basic mistakes in attack, often holding on to the ball for too long when a simple pass was all that was required.
“However, for an early–season game it was really useful and allowed us to see different players, and to identify a number of areas we need to work on over the coming weeks.”
Ormesher continued: “This was a great workout for both sets of players and we are grateful to London Scottish for bringing their squad to Goldington Road.
“With the temperature above 30 degrees C, this was a tough test for both sets of players. We were delighted with our players’ fitness levels and, although it took them over an hour to show it, they played some good rugby, and scored some good tries in the third period.”
Bedford: Charley Robinson, Aubrey Grimes, Ben Thompson, Charlie Harvey, Tom Tucker, Jacob Moody, Callum Strachan, Jack Spurr; Olly Venni, Liam Shields; Tom Fawssett, Tom Stapley, Aaron Martin, Ryan Hutler; Ross Taylor.
Replacements: Michael Bond, Robin Sreenivasaprasad, George Harris, Matt Brookes, Daniel Sims, Kyron Houston, Alfie Agnew, Reece Lines, Toby James, Olly Howard, Archie Unstead, Paddy McDuell, Ed Shannon, Liam McStay