Bedford Blues were looking to bounce back from defeat in Cornwall last week as they hosted the islanders, Jersey Reds on Saturday afternoon back at Goldington Road.
Mike Rayer made seven changes to the match day squad, including a debut at 13 for Bedford Junior Blues graduate, Tom Litchfield, with Oli Curry starting his first game of the season.
A spate of penalties in the first ten minutes resulted in a patchy start for both sides in windy conditions, but an early penalty for the Reds gave them a lead, with the wind behind them.
A brief foray into the Jersey half from Rich Lane was Bedford’s only break in the first quarter, with Joe Wrafter receiving a yellow card for an accumulation of penalties soon after, as the visitors took control.
“If you keep infringing, you will keep going”, warned referee Hudson, with the Blues continuing to concede penalties, but the Reds soon made their numerical advantage count.
Jack McFarlane was the man to bundle the ball over, with Brendan Cope adding the extras, as Jersey opened up a ten point advantage.
Tommy Mathews gained Bedford’s first points of the afternoon with a penalty, and this seemed to kick start the blue engine as they followed it up with a try soon after.
Reuben Bird-Tulloch broke through the Jersey defence before unleashing the rapid Ryan Olowofela who coasted over the try line to restore parity at 10-10.
Rich Lane’s try gave Bedford a brief advantage thanks to a fine break from Matt Worley but a half-time lead was scuppered thanks to McFarlane’s second touch down of the half.
Brendan Cope’s late penalty restored Jersey’s slender lead, but with conditions favouring Bedford for the second half, they would have taken a 20-17 deficit at the interval.
A quiet start to the second half was punctured by a second yellow card for the Blues, this time for Ed Prowse before Bedford’s pack was depleted even further two minutes later.
Rob Hardwick joined Prowse in the bin – a third yellow card for the Blues, and their sixth of the season – which triggered a period of confusion for everyone on the field, not least for the referee.
The result of an oddity in the law book left Bedford with just twelve players on the pitch, and Will Maisey at the back of the uncontested scrum, as they soaked up momentous pressure from the Islanders with twenty minutes left.
The hosts were likely to crack, and crack they did, with Darren Atkins finding one of what were a lot of gaps to score as Bedford slowly restored their numbers, albeit in vain.
A late Will Maisey penalty give Bedford a losing bonus point, but the game will be remembered for the bizarre five minute period that ultimately left the Blues fatally short.
The 25-20 victory for the Islanders however will go down in history as one of their best, and is their first victory of the season as Bedford fell to their third defeat in four league games.
The season doesn’t get easier for Mike Rayer’s side as a free week next week is followed by a trip to the StoneX Stadium to face pre-season favourites, Saracens on 11th April.