Blues comeback seals first league win against the Knights

Pat Tapley celebrates a try (Image: Claire Jones / Bedford Blues)

Bedford Blues returned to Goldington Road in league action on Friday night with the visit of Doncaster Knights, hoping to bounce back from defeat in Jersey last weekend.

There had been whispers of returning Goldington Road to the “fortress” of days gone past, and that seemed to be the case as 2,825 fans returned to cheer on the Blues under the floodlights.

The Knights spent the majority of the opening ten minutes with ball in hand, but it was the Blues who eventually took the lead thanks to the boot of Will Maisey; extending the lead to six soon after.

Billy McBryde soon reduced the deficit to three, as Doncaster began to regain territory with a quarter of the game gone as the Blues were consistently pinged for penalties.

The pressure told as Knights prop, Gareth Denman squeezed against the posts – despite suspicions of a double movement – to give the visitors a well-deserved 10-6 lead.

Soon after however, Pat Tapley’s perseverance in chasing a Rich Lane grubber kick paid dividends as he capitalised on a Doncaster spill to stroll over and restore Bedford’s lead to a single point.

One word you can always use at the Blues however is “adventurous”, and while their running style is often applauded, they can also find themselves in troublesome moments.

Bizarrely choosing to run a penalty from inside their own five-metre line was one of those moments and in doing so, gifted Doncaster the chance to regain the initiative, which they did with a try through Alex Dolly.

McBryde converted, giving Doncaster a 17-11 lead and only a sturdy Bedford defence on their own try line stopped that lead increasing, bringing an end to a pulsating, hard-hitting first half.

Bedford’s defence was admirably firm for the majority of the half, stopping phase after phase as Doncaster looked to extend their advantage, particularly with the clock deep into the red.

The see-saw nature of the scoring spilled over into the second half, with Rich Lane finishing a pacey move under the posts as Bedford re-took the lead 18-17 shortly into the second half.

A smart move from the corner further extended Blues’ lead ten minutes later, with replacement Tui Uru diving over and with Maisey slotting a tight conversion, Bedford’s advantage grew to eight points.

However, the pattern of the game remained; the Knights’ strategy of going for the corner being dumped in favour of points, as two further Doncaster penalties reduced the gap once again to just two.

Not to be outdone, Will Maisey was matching his counterpart, the boot of the former Coventry fly-half always keeping Bedford just ahead of the game.

At 28-23 to the hosts with ten minutes remaining, the game could have swung either way, with the tension palpable amongst the Goldington Road faithful.

However, Bedford held firm and despite late possession for the Knights, they sealed their first league win of the season via the trusted left foot of the brilliant Will Maisey; winning 31-23 in front of a delighted home crowd.

To Doncaster’s credit, they pummeled the corner on almost every occasion they got a penalty, opting to go for maximum points when there were consistently three on offer.

The traditionalist would argue that points on the board may have won them the game, but their tactics merely contributed to what was a scintillating game of rugby.

The Blues’ endeavour win them many fans and today, their flair – and the increasingly consistent boot of Maisey – won the day in a victory that will hopefully kick start their Championship season.

Next weekend, they return to Dillingham Park for a further instalment of the Battle of Bedfordshire against Ampthill, looking to build on tonight’s superb victory.

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