Brilliant Bedford Blues stun league leaders Ealing

Image: David Horn and PRIME Media Images

Bedford Blues have struggled for form in 2022 so far and most would agree there is no tougher challenge in the English Championship than the leaders, Ealing Trailfinders.

Not even the most optimistic of Blues fans would have expected much from today’s encounter but what transpired was a performance full of character as Bedford pulled off the improbable in the capital this afternoon.

Mike Rayer, approaching 500 games as Bedford’s Director of Rugby, made seven further changes with a whole new front row plus a first start for Joel Matavesi.

Ealing ran in five tries in the first half in November’s reverse fixture, and it looked to be turning into a familiar tale as Simon Linsell crashed over for the hosts after five minutes.

Blustery conditions may have hampered Bedford and stopped them from playing their natural game, but a few minutes later they had responded in true Blues style.

Dean Adamson made a break down the left wing, before Connor Tupai recycled to the right to allow Matt Worley to stroll into the corner and get Bedford on the board.

Ealing, who have not lost at home all season, continued to press forward but the beginning of a gutsy Bedford defensive effort paid dividends to keep the hosts at bay.

They did increase their advantage to 14-5 on the twenty minute mark; hooker Jan Henning-Campher scoring under the posts but it didn’t perturb the Blues who continued to make hay in the wind.

They got their reward on the stroke of half-time with a huge effort from the Bedford pack hauling Ollie Newman over the line to reduce the deficit to 14-12 at the interval.

It was a scoreline Bedford would take as severe underdogs, but what transpired would turn into one of the Blues’ finest forty minutes.

Heroic forwards the difference for Bedford

The first half was an unbelievable defensive effort from the visitors, and despite going into the break behind, there seemed to be total belief that their efforts would prove fruitful.

Bedford came out for the second half all guns blazing and took the lead for the first time through Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi who peeled off the lineout to score.

Territory continued to be Bedford’s and with a spate of penalties going their way, Ealing Trailfinders were visibly rattled.

The bonus point was gained when Jack Hughes added to his already impressive try count and with Bedford leading 24-14, a shock was on the cards.

Ealing are league leaders for a reason though, their attacking play is fast and powerful but Bedford’s defence continued to hold firm as any assault on their try line was stamped out.

The hosts did eventually get their third try on the hour mark, reducing the deficit to five points but that’s as good as it got for them as Bedford closed out a remarkable victory.

It wasn’t plain sailing by any means; Ealing continued to press forward but Bedford’s defence was full of guts and character and the Trailfinders simply could not get past.

With the clock ticking into the final ten minutes, Jamie Elliott broke clear to score the Blues’ fifth try to confirm a stunning 31-19 win for Bedford that could reignite a season that was beginning to tail off.

The stars of today’s show however were without doubt the forwards; putting their bodies on the line to deny consistently strong Ealing attacks, much to the derision of a side who usually get their own way in this division.

Bedford Blues bounce back up to sixth, while Ealing fall to third although they do have two games in hand on teams around them.

Elsewhere, Doncaster Knights are the new league leaders after a tight 33-30 triumph over Richmond while Jersey Reds jump to second after beating Hartpury 41-30.

Cornish Pirates are also in the mix in fourth after beating bottom side, London Scottish 19-0, while Nottingham beat Coventry on Friday night.

The result of the day however came at the Trailfinders Sports Club, where Mike Rayer’s side pulled off a shock win; the effects of which they will hope to carry over to next week when they welcome Cornish Pirates to Goldington Road.


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