Defiant Blues lose Championship opener to the Islanders

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Will Maisey converts a Blues try (Credit: Jacqui Ranieri)

Opening fixtures don’t come more tricky than a trip across the Channel to face a strong Jersey side, and this turned out to be the case as Bedford’s second half comeback proved to be fruitless.

A try apiece in the first half hour looked to have been the only talking points from a flat first half; with Blues’ Pat Tapley sealing a try started off by new captain, Rich Lane in typical Bedford fashion.

However, the final ten minutes spelt disaster for the Blues, with the hosts scoring nineteen unanswered points, with Bedford losing two men in a blitz of Jersey pressure.

Oli Stedman was the first to be shown a yellow card as he dragged down a rolling maul; with the penalty try given before former Bedford man Ryan Olowofela adding a third try.

Oisin Heffernan, usually of Northampton Saints, followed Stedman to the bin as Jersey made their opponents pay with a fourth try before the whistle through Eoghan Clarke.

While Bedford’s reputation with attacking flair preceded them, they’re also started to make waves with their character and this showed in what was a pulsating start to the second half.

Stedman and Heffernan returned to play a part at the scrum to send Matt Worley away before Stedman added his name to the list of try scorers with another soon after.

With Jersey’s lead now at just five points, the two sides traded further tries, with Bedford’s Jack Hughes getting in on the act as the Blues continued to search for space and complete a famous comeback.

As Bedford pressed though, Jersey hit them on the counter attack and ultimately pulled clear with Eoghan Clarke completing a hat-trick in a 40-28 victory.

Once again, there were plenty of positives to take from the defeat, not least the character shown to battle back to near parity following a spate of yellow cards.

Close rivals Ampthill kicked off their season with a narrow 21-19 victory against Coventry, while arguably the shock of the day came at Hartpury who defeated a strong Cornish Pirates side, 37-18.

Doncaster Knights, who Bedford Blues face under the Goldington Road lights this Friday night, comfortably swept aside London Scottish 36-7 while Richmond achieved a comeback of their own in beating Nottingham 27-24.

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