Bedford Blues’ pre-season fixture list came to a conclusion on Saturday with a high-scoring friendly victory against Saracens Storm at Goldington Road.
Gifted the opportunity of an extra week’s preparation over other Championship sides, Mike Rayer’s much-changed squad have competed well in every department in a series of four pre-season friendlies throughout August and September.
Saturday’s 47-33 victory over the Storm contained seven tries with two apiece for Matt Worley and Luke Frost while Pat Tapley, Jack Hughes and new fly-half, Louis Grimoldby the others to touch down.
The performance was described as “almost faultless”, much to the delight of head coach Mike Rayer, who has overseen many incomings and outgoings in the Blues ranks, not least the surprising loss of forwards coach, Alex Rae.
Sandwiched in between a ‘Battle of Bedfordshire’ double header was a tough friendly against Premiership heavyweights, Northampton Saints, falling 40-21 at Goldington Road.
The scoreline perhaps flattered the more experienced side as the returning Dean Adamson touched down either side of an Alex Day try, much to the delight of the packed out home crowd.
However, the Premiership side were too strong for the hosts as former Blues players Tom Litchfield and Josh Gillespie were among the try scorers.
The highlight of the pre-season calendar however was the double header with local rivals, Ampthill, with both sides taking a game each in two highly entertaining encounters.
The first was played at Dillingham Park and won by the hosts Ampthill in a stunning game involving twelve tries.
The final score 40-38 was befitting of a wonderful tie in which both sides played fluid, flair-filled rugby, trading tries and penalties galore in the process.
The Blues got their own back a fortnight later in an equally entertaining affair; Will Maisey’s last minute penalty securing a 38-35 victory in front of a packed house at Goldington Road.
With 22 tries scored across the two fixtures; the Goldington Road faithful are in for a try-filled campaign, with the coaching staff keen on keeping the ill discipline that put a dampener on last season to a minimum.
The Blues’ first fixture sees them travel offshore to Jersey Reds, who opened their league campaign last weekend with 48-7 victory at the returning London Scottish.
Cornish Pirates also kicked off their season with a 33-18 against Richmond while Coventry scored an impressive victory against Doncaster Knights and league favourites, Ealing beating Richmond 54-20.