Blues escape with victory against plucky London Scottish

Image: Bedford Blues

Last weekend’s one point loss at Coventry will have disappointed the whole Blues family, but there was a huge chance to bounce back on Saturday, as Bedford welcomed London Scottish to Goldington Road.

Although Scottish remain bottom of the table, they have shown they are no slouches with victory against Coventry a fortnight ago kick starting their season.

Mike Rayer made a host of changes – six in all – as he looked to rejuvenate his side, but it was Scottish who started the brighter in the opening forays.

The first quarter became scrappy, with knock-ons and lost line-outs dominating as both sides looked for a foothold in the game; the early sounds of the away fans’ bagpipes replaced by the referee’s whistle.

However it was the Blues who made the breakthrough, as Tom Litchfield broke through the line and the ball eventually found Matt Worley on the wing, who stepped inside to stroll over.

The action was becoming more fluent; Jamie Elliott’s try-saving tackle sparking a cat and mouse exchange that ended with the Scottish fly-half, Harry Shephard sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle.

From there, Bedford doubled their try count; a superb move from the lineout ending with Jack Hughes diving over in the corner, despite the best efforts of the Scottish defence.

A third try on the brink of half-time cemented Blues’ lead, a cross field kick from the enigmatic Will Maisey was easily collected by Worley to walk over his second try of the match.

Back to a full complement of players, there was still time before the break for London Scottish to get on the board; Javiah Pohe bundling over for the visitors to reduce the deficit to 19-7 at the break.

Scottish threaten to dampen Blues’ spirits

Scottish came out of the second half traps fast, scrum half Stephen Kerins a fingertip away from collecting a stray pass for an almost guaranteed try to reduce the deficit to five, but he instead knocked on.

With the rain beginning to fall, both sides struggled with fluency; the opening stages of the second half mirroring the first as both sides went searching to find their best form.

London Scottish had their moments and had the best of the territory for the majority of the second half, but they were unable to capitalise on solid build up play with a clinical finish.

That was until they finally managed to break the Bedford defence; referee Harry Walbaum awarding a penalty try to set up a grandstand finish with the Blues leading 19-14 with ten minutes remaining.

The nerves around the ground were palpable and it seemed to translate on to the pitch; Robin Williams sent to the sin bin only adding to Bedford’s task of defending their slim lead.

A second yellow card followed ninety seconds later, this time for Ollie Newman and with Bedford down to thirteen players, London Scottish scented blood.

The leveller was inevitable, and it came from replacement Cameron King but with Sheppard missing the conversion, the game was tied 19-19 with mere minutes remaining.

The miss seemed to inject Bedford with a second wind, the chants of ‘Bedford!’ ringing around Goldington Road.

A Scottish sin-bin made the crescendo peak, and it was almost the crowd who willed Jack Hughes over the line to reinstate Blues’ lead to 24-19 with two minutes left, as huge and relieved cheers erupted around the ground.

London Scottish had showed enormous character after fighting their way back into the game, and continued to batter the Bedford try line into the final few moments.

But Bedford held out; the loudest cheer of the game coming when a penalty was awarded on their own try line as time expired, with Bedford Blues winning 24-19.

The drama of the final ten minutes more than made up for the drab and often lifeless game that was drowned out by the wet weather; but Mike Rayer will not care as his team escaped with a key win.

London Scottish must have felt aggrieved by losing out after a heroic comeback, but they remain bottom of the league with just one win in ten games.

Elsewhere, Ampthill lost the early kick off to Cornish Pirates, Doncaster Knights comfortably saw off Nottingham whilst Jersey Reds squeezed past Coventry.

However, Ealing Trailfinders battled back to win 33-24 at Richmond after trailing 14-3 at the break, and continue to lead the Championship by three points over the Pirates.

Bedford Blues are up to fifth, with a tricky fixture against Jersey Reds coming up at Goldington Road on Boxing Day.

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