It feels like a long time ago that over 4,000 Blues fans cheered on a stellar Boxing Day victory against Jersey Reds, as Bedford Blues fell to a fourth consecutive loss at Doncaster Knights this afternoon.
Mike Rayer once again rang the changes in an attempt to find a winning formula but despite attritional first half defensive efforts, the Knights showed their class in the end.
A whole new front row, as well as a return for Matt Worley on the wing were among seven changes for Bedford Blues on a windy afternoon at Castle Park as both sides took a while to get used to the conditions.
Both sides were unable to take the initiative early on with the Blues and Knights trading penalties as it took half an hour for the deadlock to be broken.
Billy McBryde was the man to score, after good work from Knights’ hooker George Roberts and with Alex Dolly nailing the conversion, Doncaster led 7-0.
Bedford were resolute in defence as they kept the Knights at bay, keeping the score down to 7-0 as the referee blew the half-time whistle.
Wind plays havoc as Bedford unable to score
The windy weather was beginning to cause problems for both sides at the start of the second half; the Blues unable to find any fluency with their rare forays forward.
Bedford’s task was made more difficult as Joey Conway was shown a yellow card; simultaneously signalling the beginning of a period of dominance for the Knights.
An Alex Dolly penalty increased Doncaster’s lead to ten points just before the hour mark, but from then on, Doncaster began to show why they are second in the Championship table.
A second try for the hosts on the hour mark gave the Knights a sizeable lead; the ball looped out wide to Joe Margetts who ran in under the sticks to knock the life out of the Blues.
Mike Rayer rang the changes, including a return for Reuben Bird-Tulloch on loan from Ealing and debuts for Geordie Irvine and Joel Matavesi, as he looked for a spark to ignite a Bedford comeback.
It wasn’t to happen though, any efforts forward were stamped out by Doncaster and added to scrappy attacking play from Bedford, any comeback was looking increasingly unlikely.
Doncaster secured their bonus point soon after, as a Connor Tupai pass went astray and was collected by McBryde who scored his second try of the game.
The final 24-0 scoreline was a fair result; Bedford unable to get any foothold in the game once again with Doncaster taking their chances in what were difficult conditions.
What’s more, the games don’t get any easier as Bedford Blues travel to league leaders Ealing Trailfinders next week before hosting a strong Cornish Pirates side.
Both of those teams were in action today; Ealing securing a 33-14 victory at Hartpury while Cornish Pirates scored a late try to secure a 24-24 draw at Richmond.
Bedford Blues however are slipping down the Championship table, and will need to re-find their legendary flair to make sure their season doesn’t completely fall apart.