Spicy Boxing Day scrap ends in another Bedford Blues defeat

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Image: Bedford Blues

The Blues were looking to kick start their league campaign on Boxing Day, beginning with a highly anticipated clash against local rivals Ampthill; the two meeting in the league for the first time.

Bedford have not won since 13 October, an away victory at Yorkshire Carnegie, losing all six of their Championship Cup pool fixtures along the way, including home and away against Ampthill.


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A missed penalty from Ampthill was the only noteworthy event in a cagey first ten minutes, where both sides were trying to find their feet in damp, gloomy conditions at a sold out Goldington Road.

However, it was the visitors who got on the scoreboard first, a simple penalty converted by captain Louis Grimoldby after a period of pressure in the Bedford 22.

A long stoppage following a head injury for Ampthill’s Jarryd Sage allowed his team to regroup after Bedford began to pile on the pressure.

After two penalties were conceded by the visitors, Bedford finally broke through allowing Alafoti Fa’osiliva – making his first start for the Blues – to bundle over the try line.

The Blues had a huge opportunity to extend that lead before the interval with men over on the far side, but Bedford dropped the ball with the try line in sight.

However, the hosts did go in to the break with an invaluable 7-3 lead.

Continued below


View from the crowd

While our reporter Tom sat in his prime position in the press box, probably being served tea as he was kept warm under a complimentary electric blanket, I was in my usual spot.

At 5ft 8″ I’m just below average height for a man in the UK. But when it comes to rugby, most fans, including my friends, seem to tower above me.

On a standard Saturday afternoon this is bad enough, but on Boxing Day the height issue is made even worse.

With the ground at full capacity and many a head, or umbrella, blocking the view I do often struggle to see what’s happening on the pitch.

Even through the sea of heads I did manage to catch some of the action

This isn’t a problem though. Boxing Day has always been a busy day for the Blues, and one all fans surely welcome.

It’s a great atmosphere, everyone is full of festive cheer (and food), and the club we all love gets a much appreciated financial boost.

A local derby is always going to mean there will be plenty of fans cheering both sides on in, what seems to be, equal measure.

Sadly today there was a little bit too much de ja vu, with Ampthill, once again, proving their position in the league is justified.

While the day started with an atmosphere of hope and excitement, the exit from Goldington Road was a more sombre affair.

Words: Paul Hutchinson


 

Ampthill came out for the second half on the front foot, winning a penalty almost from the kick off, allowing Grimoldby to convert his second penalty of the game and restore the deficit to a single point.

And with barely five minutes on the second half clock, Ampthill went ahead for the first time; the drive from the line out hugely effective resulting in a try, converted by Grimoldby to give the visitors a 13-7 lead.

Ampthill’s ferocious start to the half spurred Bedford into life; Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas just failing to collect a grubber kick inches from the Ampthill try line and with tempers boiling over, the Blues began to camp in the visitor’s half.

Following a cross-field kick, gathered by Dean Adamson, a huge melee erupted in the corner and it was almost a surprise not to see any cards from a lenient Anthony Woodthorpe as the players took Boxing Day a bit too literally.

A penalty was all that Bedford could muster from their period of pressure, reducing Ampthill’s lead to just three points.

The visitors were not perturbed however, with a swift move worked out to the far side, allowing Sam Baker to dive into the corner and with the impressive Grimoldby nailing the conversion, Ampthill lead 20-10 at the hour mark.

Bedford’s frustration was beginning to show, a soft penalty given after yet another off-field scrap between Luvuyo Pupuma and Jordan Onojaife; the latter being penalised and Grimoldby nailing his fourth kick from five to extend their lead to 23-10.

Ampthill lock Shay Kerry earned himself a yellow card late on as Ampthill continued to try and break up the game by any means possible and despite a flurry of penalties for the home side, the Ampthill defence held firm to earn a third straight victory over their more prestigious rivals.

In truth, despite late antics from the visitors, few would begrudge them another victory at Goldington Road and Bedford Blues’ winless run continues, remaining second bottom of the Greene King IPA Championship.

Bedford’s next game is at London Scottish, with everyone at Goldington Road hoping a change of decade will bring a change in fortunes.


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