Bedford Blues – 05/12/2015

13Bedford Blues

18Doncaster Knights

3:00 pm · December 5, 2015

Bedford 13 v Knights 18

I think it’s fair that if you had told Clive Griffiths and Mike Rayer in September that their sides would be battling it out in the top four Championship places at the halfway stage that they would have gladly taken it. That was, however, the exact scenario as the Knights headed to Goldington Road in sitting pretty in second place to face a Blues outfit who knew a home win would see them jump third.

In an attritional eighty minutes the Knights eventually ran out 13-18 victors to inflict a first home defeat of the season on the Blues and extend their current unbeaten run to seven games; securing second place in the division ahead of the next round of Cup fixtures.

The Blues home ground has several distinctive features but none more notorious than the Goldington Road slope. Depending which ‘aficionado’ you happen to be sat next to, you will be told that playing down the gradient is worth a 10, 12 even 15 point advantage add to that the almighty bluster that blew down the slope for the first half and perhaps you could add another couple of point to that total. With this in mind the Knights were up against it in the first half, playing into the elements. However, even considering this, they certainly didn’t play with the quality they have displayed in recent weeks in the first forty of the encounter.

The opening exchanges were lively but error strewn as both teams figured how they were going to play with the howling gusts; the early lineouts proved to be a little bit of a lottery with all kicks and passes over five metres also suffering at the mercy of the wind. Unsurprisingly the territorial advantage went with the hosts as the fixture began to settle but there can be no blaming the wind or slope for the game’s opening score. Imposing number eight Joel Conlon produced a number of powerful carries throughout the game but should not have been allowed to get anywhere near the try line when he touched down on ten minutes. Having taken an inside ball at the ruck from scrum half Peter White, Conlon shirked not one, not two but three Knights challenges to race over and score. Sharp added the extras.

The hosts then immediately extended their advantage with an on target penalty just moments later; Jake Sharp on the money once again.

Having been under the pump for a significant period the Knights made their first foray into Bedford territory pay. Foul play on Ben Hunter by a Blues forward saw a Bedford a penalty reversed which Dec Cusack put to touch, from the top of the line out the Knights attacked in field with Will Hurrell making a telling carry. Dougie Flockhart then went close to getting over in the corner before the move broke down and play was brought back for a Doncaster penalty. From close(ish) range Dougie was able to conquer the wind and bisect the uprights, 10-3.

The Blues cancelled out the Flockhart penalty almost immediately as the Knights were penalized for going off their feet at the ruck having secured possession. Sharp produced another on target attempt and the hosts ten point advantage was restored.

On reflection the final fifteen minutes of the first half was, probably, where the Knights won the game as their committed defence prevented the Blues from growing their lead before the interval. The hosts did create chances but could not breach the Donny resistance, both sides had further penalty shots at goal, including a 60 metre effort from full back Steffan Jones but the score stayed 13-3 as the teams retreated to the sheds for half time.

It took the Knights just five minutes to reduce the deficit to seven as the Blues suffered to adjust to the change of ends, an early punt from Jones was caught by the wind and blown out on the full to give the Knights a line out in the Blues territory. Jon Phelan, who was dominant at the line out throughout, secured possession and the pack went about driving the hosts backwards; the Blues suppressed the surge but gave away a penalty in doing so. Flockhart lined it up and made no mistake. The winger had a chance to further reduce the arrears just moments later but could not quite adjust his angle to account for the wind and it dropped wide.

As previously mentioned the Blues had not lost at their Goldington Road home prior to the visit of the Knights and would not give up that record easily. They came back fighting and made inroads up field with some piercing runs and wick handling, Tom Griffiths took advantage of a mismatch in front of him to race clear only to be hauled down by a quickly retreating Paul Jarvis. The Blues were quick in support and may have made it pay had Pete White not chucked a short pass forward from the base of a ruck in the Knights 22m.

With the hour mark approaching the Knights pack began to noticeably get on top of the Blues and began to drive them back at every engage. A succession of scrum penalties went the Knights way meaning Cusack could put his side in range with the boot. One attack from a driving lineout looked as if it would end in a definite score but centre Griffiths produced a flying tackle to force a knock on out of the Knights as they went wide. On 60 minutes another post scrum penalty was converted by Flockhart to make it 13-9 with another on target kick.

Both benches were utilized for the final quarter with almost wholesale changes made to both front rows. Unfortunately for Knights loose head Jack Bergmanas he received an almighty collision with his first contact and had to come off and Rich List temporarily return to the field before being replaced by WillGriff John meaning Colin Quigley played the full 80!

Momentum remained with the Knights but the Blues defences repelled the Donny attacks time and time again and with time whittling down produced opportunities of their own, despite this it was the Knights who scored next. Jon Phelan was pulled down in the air at another lineout and Flockhart slotted his fourth penalty of the afternoon to make it a one point game with just over ten minutes remaining.

The Knights put themselves under pressure from the restart as replacement centre Michael Le Bourgeois manage to claim possession from a messy restart. A series of drives puts the Knights firmly on the back foot and only good defensive work from Makaafi and Jarvis forced winger George Perkins into touch close to the Knights try line. Cusack cleared following the line out and after a fantastic kick chase a penalty was awarded to give Flockhart the chance to put his side into the lead for the first time in the match. Dougie demonstrated his trademark cool to slot the effort with the clock reading 74 minutes.

Last season the Knights battled back from a losing position to take a lead before seeing it turn to defeat in the final play of the game at Goldington Road but there would be no repeat this time. Another brilliant scrummaging effort won the Knights a penalty in their own half and a reckless tackle by the hosts in their own half gave Flockhart a chance to extend the lead, he obliged and with the seconds running out the Knights were up 13-18.

There was still time for the Blues to mount one final attack and despite some crunching defensive hits from Doncaster, notably from replacement hooker Vili Veikoso, they made their way up field. A bizarre decision to chip forward as the Blues encroached on the Knights 22m gave Jarvis a chance to secure possession and soon after the game was ended.

Not an advert for attacking, free-flowing rugby but a huge result for the Knights against an in-form side which means that Doncaster will be sat in second place in the Championship this Christmas.

Match Statistics

Bedford XV; 15) Steffan Jones, 14) Pat Tapley, 13) Tom Griffiths (Michael Le Bourgeois 13’), 12) Ollie Dodge, 11) George Perkins, 10) Jake Sharp (Myles Dorrian 75’), 9) Pete White (Jordan Burns 52’), 1) Alex Lundberg, 2) Sam James (Charlie Clare 60’), 3) Phil Boulton (Camilo Parilli-Ocampo 60’), 4) Harry Wells (Paul Tupai 77’), 5) Mark Flanagan (Mike Howard 52’), 6) Nick Fenton-Wells (c), 7) Josh Buggea, 8) Joel Conlon

Replacements; 16) Charlie Clare, 17) Camilo Parilli-Ocampo, 18) Mike Howard, 19) Paul Tupai, 20) Jordan Burns, 21) Myles Dorrian, 22) Michael Le Bourgeois

Tries; Conlon 11’

Conv; Sharp 12’

Pens; Sharp 15’, 24’

Knights XV; 15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Mat Clark, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Richard List (Jack Bergmanas 60’- 65’) (WillGriff John 70’), 2) Ben Hunter (Vili Veikoso 78’), 3) Colin Quigley, 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan (Glen Young 78’), 6) Alex Shaw, 7) Michael Hills (C), 8) Ollie Stedman (Latu Makaafi 55’),

Replacements; 16) Jack Bergmanas, 17) Vili Veikoso, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Glen Young , 20) Latu Makaafi, 21) Andy Bulumakau , 22) Sam Edgerley.



Pens; Flockhart 22’, 44’, 60’, 67’ 74’, 79’

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

Attendance: 2,077

Our Partners