Bedford Blues and Ampthill will clash once again on Saturday in the second part of their double-header of friendlies as they gear up for the start of the Greene King IPA Championship next weekend.
And if the second meeting is as entertaining as the first, it should be a real cracker.
Both teams gave plenty of game time to members of their squads in preparation for the real thing and it was Blues who eventually came out on top by a 36-33 scoreline at Dillingham Park.
Dani Long-Martinez put Bedford in front when he finished off a fine move before Ampthill responded with Cory Lewis finishing a maul on his debut.
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The half didn’t get much better for Ampthill as, after Pat Tapley had gone over for the visitors, they had both Jonny Hall and Austin Wallis sin-binned and Blues took advantage with Tui Uru scoring to give them a 21-7 lead as Tommy Matthews converted all three visiting scores.
The game was marred just before the break when Bedford’s Oli Curry was red-carded but Bedford director of rugby Mike Rayer fielded a new 14 in the second half and it had little effect as Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas and Ethan Grayson both dotted down to extend the lead.
With the home side back to 15, their one-man advantage started to show after the hour as debut flanker Alex Humfrey finished two mauls five minutes apart.
While Grayson added to his tally with eight minutes to go, 19-year-old Sam Bryan’s quick-thinking saw Craig Duncan get the ball over.
Saracens loanee Harvey Beaton then finished off a stunning Ampthill move to make it a three-point game but time ran out.
Ampthill director of rugby Mark Lavery said: “There were a whole heap of debuts, so we expected to be inaccurate.
“We didn’t play to our patterns in the first half but when we did in the second, it made it more challenging.”
Rayer, meanwhile, lamented the red card for flanker Curry and said: “It was a silly sending off, so not how we wanted it to go.
“It’s not ideal for a pre-season game but there was lots of other good stuff. We integrated lots of new players.”
Saturday’s game at Goldington Road kicks off at 1pm and will be streamed live by Blues. If you would like to purchase the live stream, visit https://bedfordblues.ticketco.events/uk/en