Friendly: Bedford Blues 21 Saracens 36
Bedford Blues competed well against European and Premiership champions Saracens at Goldington Road on Friday night, as they only narrowly lost their pre-season friendly encounter.
Five tries in a 25-minute period over both halves that meant there was only one winner as Saracens played at an intensity level that the Blues eventually just couldn’t handle.
The last 10 minutes made the score a respectable one with Camilo Parilli-Ocampo and Sam James crashing over as after the game, Bedford Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: “We can’t fault the effort of the guys, to finish like we did is really pleasing.
“If we’d have caught the ball, we might have had a few more attacking opportunities too.”
Blues were the first team on the scoresheet on 11 minutes when Jake Sharp got away after intercepting an Alex Lozowski pass before shifting the ball inside to winger Pat Tapley as Nick Tompkins chased him down.
Tom James was to replace Tapley just a couple of minutes later however, due to a dead calf not allowing the winger to continue, which meant Elliott Clement-Hill moved to the wing with Tom James covering at full-back
Saracen then went over on the left hand edge after a knock-on from Clement-Hill gave the visitors a scrum five metres from the Bedford line, a couple of phases later a looping Marcelo Bosch pass over to Mike Ellery meant the winger could stroll into the corner.
The visitors then stepped their game up to another level and, after Sharp had been sin-binned for being deliberately offside at the ruck, took the lead when Ellery got on the end of a perfectly weighted Chris Ashton cross-field kick to dot down for his second, Ben Spencer converting this time, after missing the previous attempt.
A third score soon followed when South African hooker Schalk Brits grounded the ball off the back of a driving maul following a line-out, and followed it up four minutes later off the back of some more mighty work from his forward pack as the visitors went into half-time 24-7 ahead.
Numerous Blues changes at half-time allowed Sarries to get back into their rhythm a lot quicker at the start of the second half as Henry Taylor went in under the posts after Lozowski offloaded from Dean Adamson’s tackle
The visitors turned the level up again with their sixth try of the night being the best of the game as a flowing move from one side of the pitch to the other, and starting from around 40 metres out, ended with Ashton and Ellery combining once again for Nick Tompkins to score.
Poor-handling and solid Saracens defence meant that the majority of the play was inside the Bedford half of the field, but they were to have the last laugh, as James powered over at the end of a well-worked line-out with seven minutes left, with Myles Dorrian converting.
A third try for the hosts soon followed, which ended the scoring, as Parilli-Ocampo crashed over the whitewash from close range following a strong run from centre Tom Farrell.
After the game Blues flanker Josh Buggea said: “We did ourselves proud, showed a lot of character, especially at the end, and I can’t fault the workrate and heart from the boys”.
The Blues now welcome Pontypridd to Goldington Road on Saturday with kick-off at 3pm.
Bedford Blues: Clements-Hill, Tapley, Farrell, Le Bourgeois, Adamson, Sharp, Burns, Culverhouse, Fields, Judge, Taylor, Carrick-Smith, Hill, Buggea, Adams
Replacements: Edgson, S James, Parilli-Ocampo, Spelman, Howard, Blanchet, Whiteley, Dorrian, Dodge, T James
Saracens: Maitland, Ashton, Bosch, Tompkins, Ellery, Lozowski, Spencer, Barrington, Brits, Figallo, Hamilton, Flanagan, Vunisa, Conlon, Wray
Replacements: Spurling, Adams-Hale, Du Plessis, Isiekwe, Earl, Taylor, Perkins, Griffiths, Malins, Gallagher, Nay, Walker
Referee: Luke Pearce