Bedford Blues Academy suffered a heavy 47-5 defeat to a very strong Leicester Tigers Academy side at Goldington Road on Sunday.
The Blues youngsters knew they were in for a tough game against a Tigers side that had beaten Wales U18 and England Counties U18 in their last two outings.
Bedford took an early lead after 10 minutes but went into half-time 14-5 behind after a closely contested first period of the game.
However, Tigers’ superior pace and power saw them stretch away in the last 20 minutes to end as deserved winners.
Bedford’s opening score was a well executed lineout drive, touched down by hooker Ben Wilkinson.
Tigers came back with a close range try from England U20 prop Owen Hills, converted by fly-half John Hargreaves.
Leicester stretched their lead with a try from centre Quinten Koster, converted by Hargreaves to put them 14-5 up at half-time.
The first half was interrupted for 10 minutes with a neck injury to Blues second row Alex Burman who was stretchered off and taken to hospital by ambulance. Thankfully he was not badly hurt and was later discharged.
Tigers scored first in the second half when a defensive error let in winger Sam Melville for a try converted by Hargreaves.
Full-back David Williams was next to score for the Tigers, the effort again converted by Hargreaves.
With the Tigers’ power and pace beginning to tell, Bedford could not cope with their support play and Leicester scored late tries from Melville, second row Munraj Atwal and Hargreaves – with Hargreaves converting two.
Bedford Academy director Denis Ormesher said: “We competed well for three quarters of the game, but we could not compete with Tigers’ power and pace in the last quarter.”
“Over the years Leicester have probably been the best U19 side in the country.”
He added: “With two players who played for England U20s in the Six Nations Championships this month in their pack, we had a tough challenge.
“We had four youngsters making their debuts for the Blues, and all did well.
“Playing against Leicester gives our players an idea of the standard they need to aspire to, if they want to be the best.”