Blues battle bravely but fall to high-flying Ealing Trailfinders

Tom Litchfield was voted as the Blues' man-of-the-match for the second week in a row (Image: Bedford Blues)

Ealing Trailfinders were the visitors to Goldington Road on Friday night in the Greene King IPA Championship; having already thrashed most of the division, bar their big rivals, Saracens.

It was always going to be a tough ask against the league leaders, who have scored over 50 points in six of their eight games this season, but the Blues matched them step for step in a largely engrossing encounter.

Mike Rayer made six changes to the starting line-up, including giving a debut to JJ Tonks, but they looked futile as Ealing scored two tries inside the first ten minutes.

It looked as if it was going to be a long night ahead against the rampaging Trailfinders, but the Blues defended doggedly, despite conceding a third try on the half hour mark.

However, with ten minutes until the interval, the Blues came to life, bouncing back with two tries of their own to reduce the deficit to nine points at the break.

Pat Tapley scored himself a brace; first touching down after a patient Blues build-up, before finishing off one of the tries of the season, as the Blues offloaded a whole four times to keep the ball alive.

With the score at 12-21 as the half-time whistle sounded, Mike Rayer’s men were in the ascendancy, and Ealing – who have steamrolled most sides – were facing a rare challenge.

The comeback continued into the second half, with Joe Atkinson crashing over from close range to reduce the points difference to four, with the potential for an upset, growing.

Ten minutes of back-and-to rugby then followed as the Blues attempted to stay in the match, but a familiar foe in the yellow card soon reared its ugly head; at which point, the game unravelled.

Henry Paul was the beneficiary, and he was soon joined by Tui Uru, and with Bedford down to 13, Ealing smelt blood.

Pat Howard scored his second try of the game for the visitors, soon followed by replacement Jordan Burns and Guy Thompson as Ealing opened up a commanding advantage.

While both players returned towards the end, the lead was far too big, with Ealing eventually running out 40-17 winners; a scoreline that doesn’t reflect the nip and tuck game that had preceded it.

Ealing remain top of the tree with eight wins from nine, their only defeat coming to closest rivals Saracens as both aim for a coveted play-off spot along with Doncaster Knights.

Bedford stay in eighth with a home game against bottom club Nottingham next up for Mike Rayer’s men, before they finish off the season with the third instalment of the Battle of Bedfordshire against Ampthill on 29th May.

And with Government Covid restrictions easing, the Blues have confirmed that fans will be able to watch the final game of the season at Goldington Road; news that was greeted with cheers across the Blues community.

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