Blues have a mountain to climb in playoff second leg

Bristol were too good for the Blues for the second time in two weeks. Picture (c) June Essex
Bristol were too good for the Blues for the second time in two weeks. Picture (c) June Essex

Bedford Blues suffered a 45-16 defeat to Bristol in the first leg of the Championship playoff semi-finals at Goldington Road on Sunday afternoon, writes Daryl Greenland.

The Blues were out to get revenge over Bristol after their 39-6 defeat just over a week ago in their final game of the main Championship season, but it proved too much to ask as powerful Bristol side ran in six tries to Bedford’s one.

Bristol started the game well and it only took five minutes for them to get their first try as Olly Robinson went crashing over and Sheedy added the extras.

Bedford looked dominant at the scrum in the opening 20 minutes, and they eventually got their reward as Henry Taylor shipped the ball out to Charlie Clare who dotted down. Sharp sent the conversion over to level the scores.

Bedford were then gifted a chance to take the lead after Bristol spilt possession inside their own 22, but Dean Adamson’s kick bounced out of play.

Bedford’s dominance at the scrum continued to cause Bristol a lot of problems, and the Blues were awarded a penalty which Sharp sent over to give the hosts a 10-7 lead.

Bristol responded almost immediately with a penalty of their own as Sheedy fired over the uprights to level the scores once again.

The visitors took the lead on the stroke of half-time through a well worked try from James Phillips, but Sheedy failed to add the extras.

Soon afterwards, Clare was sent to the sin bin for illegally bringing down a maul, and Bristol took advantage of the penalty as Ross McMillan went crashing over from a driving maul for an unconverted try as Bristol went in to the break 20-10 up.

Bristol started the second half in positive fashion with a try just five minutes after the restart. Lemi broke down the wing before sending the ball to Jack Wallace who dotted down, allowing Sheedy to add an easy conversion.

Bedford were awarded a penalty shortly afterwards when Bristol were caught offside and Sharp sent his kick over the posts to breathe life back in to the Blues.

Bedford broke with the ball once again through Adamson, but the Bristol defence caught him just in time to prevent a second Blues try.

Bristol pushed on in attack as they went in search of another try but play was brought back for a Bedford penalty and Sharp sent it over for 27-16 with 10 minutes to go.

Bristol took advantage of another driving maul minutes afterwards when James Phillips went crashing over for the second time in the game, but once again Sheedy failed to send the conversion over.

Sheedy added two penalties in quick succession to make it 38-16 in the dying seconds, but Bristol weren’t finished there.

With time running out, Jack Tovey dotted down before Sheedy added the extras to stretch Bristol’s lead in the tie to 29 points.

Bedford travel to Ashton Gate next week where they take on Bristol for the third time in as many weeks in the second leg of the tie.

Mike Rayer’s men look to be facing a difficult task as they attempt to claw back the 29-point advantage carried over by Bristol.

Bedford: Jones, Perkins (Fields 42-49), Le Bourgeois (C), Griffiths (Staff 26), Adamson, Sharp (Dorrian 67), Taylor (Burns 67), Parilli-Ocampo (Williams 57), Clare (Fields 65), Boulton (Currie 65), Howard, Flanagan, Wells, Buggea, Tupai (Nagle-Taylor 71).

Bristol: Arscott, Wallace, Tovey, Moses, Lemi (C), Sheedy, Cliff (Roberts 80+3), O’Connell (Brooker 65), McMillan (Traynor 65), Perenise (Cortes 51), Evans, Glynn, Mama, Robinson (Koster 35), Phillips