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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Magnificent Bedford stun Ulster

A scintillating second-half performance from Bedford got their British and Irish cup campaign off to a winning start following a breathless game of rugby against Ulster at Goldington Road.

The Blues looked down and out at half-time as they trailed their Irish counterparts 17-6 following two quick tries.

But Bedford put in a devastating display of attacking rugby after the break where they scored three tries in nine minutes and take a 36-22 win.

Ollie Dodge, Will Chudley and Jake Sharp were the scorers while James Pritchard was immaculate with the boot, kicking 20 points.

It was a quite remarkable encounter with Ulster appearing to be in control before Bedford hit back in spectacular fashion.

Director of rugby Mike Rayer named a strong side with skipper James Pritchard making his first start in over a month while Robin Boot was named on the bench for the first time since joining the club.

The opening exchanges didn’t promise much with both sides keeping it tight.

Pritchard opened the scoring after 14 minutes with a well-struck penalty before he extended the lead with a further three points, six minutes later.

Bedford had begun the better, creating several scoring chances but Ulster, albeit belatedly, started to show their class and registered their first points with a Patrick Jackson penalty 25 minutes in.

The points clearly settled the visitors as they dominated the play with some neat interchange that resulted in the first try.
After kicking a penalty into the corner, the Ravens drove towards Bedford’s line before Niall Annet went over to give his side a 10-6 lead.
Again Ulster attacked from the re-start with Bedford struggling to handle their powerful forward play and the Ravens made their superiority count through a second score.
Another drive from a lineout put them within inches of scoring and score they did when Scott Lavella barged his way through.
Jackson added the extras to give Ulster a commanding 17-6 lead five at break and at that point there looked no way back for the home side.
Sean Tomes added to Bedford’s misery with an unnecessary yellow card late in the opening period.
But the teams were evened up straight after the re-start when Tommy Seymour was sin binned and from the subsequent penalty Pritchard reduced the gap to 17-9.
Pritchard added to his tally with another penalty minute.
Bedford were relentless in their attacking play by running with the ball in hand and terrorising the Ulster defence with some raiser sharp handling.
Bedford continued to display an incredible spell of devastating but, as has been the story of the season, couldn’t make their fine build-up play count.
After throwing everything at Ulster in search of the illusive try, the Blues eventually won a penalty which was duly converted by the nerveless Pritchard to make it 17-12 before an incredible nine minute spell.
They got their first try of the game after a superb pass from Sharp set Dodge away and he produced a lightening quick burst to go over, allowing Bedford to retake the lead.
The game was being played at a blistering pace with Bedford destroying Ulster and adding another try.
Will Chudley was the scorer following a commanding surge from Bedford and a superb kick from Pritchard gave his side a 29-17 advantage.
Ulster were evidently shell shocked from Bedford’s stunning spell and they had to endure yet more fine play for a third try.
A wonderful off-load from Duncan Taylor set Bedford up before Sharp exploited the gap in Ulster’s defence, allowing Joe Clark to go over.
And that made it 20 unanswered points for Bedford since the break but the Irish side hit back immediately.
Some quick, incisive passing combined with missed tackles left Johnny Sheils to finish off a neat move.
But Bedford deservedly held on for a brilliant victory against a ragged Ulster.
Blues: Laurence Ovens, Chris Locke (Robin Boot 57), Phil Boulton (Joe Clark 57), Sean Tomes (Mike Howard 50), Alex Rae, Gregor Gillanders, Will Fraser, Chris Goodman (Paul Tupai 71), Will Chudley (Darryl Veenendaal 71), Jake Sharp (Nick Walshe 76), Duncan Taylor, Tom Bedford, Brendan Burke (Ollie Dodge 50), Handre Schmidt, James Pritchard (c).
Ulster Ravens: Conor Carey (John Burns 76), Niall Annett (James McKinney 62), Declan Fitzpatrick (Jerry Cronin 52), Neil McComb (Ian Henderson 79), Ryan Caldwell, TJ Anderson (c), Ali Birch (David McGuigan 79), Scott Lavella, Ian Porter (Blane McIroy 71), Patrick Jackson (Johnny Sheils 62), Chris Cochrane, Luke Marshall, Michael Allen, Craig Gilroy, Tommy Seymour.
Referee: Sean Brickell
Touch Judges: Rowan Kitt and Barry Dalby
Attendance: 2,105
Star Blue: James Pritchard – An immaculate kicking performance was the difference between the sides.

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