RFU Championship: Bedford 12 London Scottish 29
Bedford Blues missed the chance to close the gap on the top four as they succumbed to a 29-12 home defeat against London Scottish at Goldington Road on Saturday.
With Rotherham and Nottingham, the two sides directly above the Blues in the standings, losing as well, it means there is no change in the race for the play-offs.
With the other results going their way, Bedford will see it as a missed opportunity as they lost to a London Scottish side who sit comfortably in third place.
It was a defeat that was down to ill-discipline as referee Ian Tempest carded three Blues players which prevented the home side gaining possession or territory.
Going into the match off the back of the 34-19 defeat at Rotherham, Bedford had a poor start for the second match in a row by conceding a try inside four minutes.
With the visitors playing down the slope, they managed to get early field position with a line-out just outside the 22.
Spearheaded by their captain Mark Bright, the Scottish pack began to steamroll their way forward via a powerful rolling maul.
Looking ominous, the Bedford pack was forced to drag the maul down with it getting close to their line. Playing the advantage, Scottish gave the ball to their backs and with the ball going through the midfield, left winger Miles Mantella had the easiest task of scoring a try.
The Blues couldn’t get out of their half for most of the early exchanges, and a Peter Lydon penalty from 30 metres out gave the side from the capital an eight point lead after eight minutes.
Led by new forward coaches Phil Greening and Tim Payne, the visitors looked dangerous every time a rolling maul arrived, and it led to their second try of the afternoon.
On 15 minutes, a penalty allowed the visitors a five metre line-out. Bedford’s pack looked to have sussed out their moves and repelled the initial drive, but Bright was there to peel down the blindside and dive over for his first score of the afternoon.
Bedford’s first dangerous period of possession arrived 20 minutes in as stand-in skipper James Pritchard found space on the left wing, but to the home support’s frustration, he was bundled into touch.
Just as it looked like they would begin to fight their way back, then arrived the ill-discipline.
With penalty after penalty being conceded whilst defending their line, forwards Ben Gulliver and Tom Williams were sent to the bin for both committing professional infringements.
It looked like Tempest would give a penalty try, but the visitors eventually scored via Bright again.
That score was the captain’s 18th try in all competitions this season, and it was clear Bedford were unable to stop Scottish legally.
With the conversion good, Bedford went into the sheds 22-0 down, with a mountain to climb.
The second 40 started in the best possible manner for the home side. A kick through by Jake Sharp was cunningly slapped out of play by Lydon, but the full back was penalised by Tempest who brandished a yellow card.
To rub salt into his wounds, the referee ran under the sticks to award a penalty try and give Bedford a glimmer of hope.
They were unable to close the deficit further whilst Scottish were down to 14, but managed to score the next try on the hour mark through Paul Tupai.
The Samoan was on the end of a rolling maul, as the front eight showed their character by inflicting damage on the visitors in the same part of the pitch where they had such trouble earlier in the afternoon.
With the deficit reduced to just 10, Bedford looked capable of another comeback at Goldington Road.
However their hopes were quashed as Scottish bagged their bonus point try via Matt Williams, as the winger sped into the corner to help secure a hard-fought victory for the team from Richmond.
They were professional in the final stages by nullifying the threats of Bedford to give Rayer’s side their second defeat in a row.
Bedford will have the opportunity to instantly bounce back as they welcome a resurgent Plymouth Albion next Saturday.
Bedford: Tom Williams (Camilo Parilli-Ocampo 46), Charlie Clare (TJ Harris 76), James Currie (Phil Boulton 50), Harry Wells, Ben Gulliver (Mike Howard 65), Paul Tupai, Justin Blanchet (Nick Fenton-Wells 50), Joe Vandermolen; Pete White (Darryl Veenendaal 68), Jake Sharp, Dean Adamson
(Steffan Jones 40), Viliami Hakalo, Mike Le Bourgeois, Pat Tapley, James Pritchard (c).
T: Penalty try, Paul Tupai. C: James Pritchard.
London Scottish: James Hallam (Mark Lilley 57), Adam Kwasnicki, Max Maidment (Ben Prescott 48), Josh Thomas Brown (Gregor Gillanders 57), Adam Preocanin (Neil Best 48), James Phillips, Chevvy Pennycock, Mark Bright (c); Jamie Stevenson (Matt Heeks 76), Dan Newton, Miles Mantella, Connor
Braid, Matt Hawke, Matt Williams, Peter Lydon (Lee Millar 68).
Replacement not used: David Cherry.
T: Mark Bright x2, Matt Williams, Miles Mantella. C: Peter Lydon x2, Dan Newton. P: Peter Lydon.
Referee: Ian Tempest.