After a season of hard-fought losses, our 1st XV gave their all to secure their first win – away to Radley this week. Although bursting with pride from their triumph, it was touching to see how gracious and respectful they were in a truly heart-warming display of sportsmanship. They knew that Radley were in a similar position to them and would also have been disappointed with another loss, so they chose to keep their celebrations muted.
Early exchanges during the match itself set the tone for a tight and committed battle with both teams not wanting to concede an inch. It was Radley who got the better of the field position in the first quarter of the game and slotted a penalty to go three points up. Bedford then had much of the pressure, and the worsening conditions meant that the boys were finding it hard to convert the clear chances they had created. It did feel, however, that it was only a matter of time before Bedford got on the score sheet. With 17 minutes on the clock, Bedford muscled their way into the opposing 22. Will Ramply forced a Radley overthrow on a five-metre Radley lineout for Ben Sherriff to gather, who bounced off a couple of would-be tacklers, only to be held up over the line. From the resulting five-metre scrum the Bedford pack worked towards the posts and, after some quick organisation and composed ball retention, Alex English forced his way over for the score, which was converted by Luke Williams. Score 3-7.
It was Bedford’s turn to soak up pressure as Radley had numerous visits into our 22, but a stoic Bedford defence soaked up the pressure and repelled the ball out of danger. Bedford built a fair bit of pressure and looked the more likely to score but, similar to earlier exchanges, couldn’t quite finish the opportunities they had.
Bedford put themselves under pressure early in the second half and conceded a penalty in front of the posts. The reliable Radley kicker comfortably slotted it to make it 6 points to 7. The Bedford team had much of the pressure from then on and looked likely to score the next points. However, a Radley clearing kick that went from 22 to 22 was not dealt with sufficiently, leading to another Radley penalty. 9 points to 7 and Bedford were now chasing the game with 13 minutes left. Much of the rest of the game was played in the Radley half. Bedford’s patience with possession paid off and, after spending five minutes in the Radley 22, the heroic Radley defence was finally breached by Harry Constantine, who dived in under the posts. The Williams conversion made it 14-9 and a tense final few minutes were to follow. However, the Bedford defence held firm and saw out the game fairly comfortably in the end. Man of the match wen to Ben Sherriff.
Back at Bedford, the U16 teams also had enjoyable contests with Radley, and it was great to see the A team putting together some very slick passages of play to turn over their opposition, who had come with a good pedigree. While the B team were left scratching their heads wondering how their game got away from them in the last play, the C team were having a field day. They have been a very committed team all season and are benefitting from the hard work they have put in.
The U14s met the full might of a big boarding school, as so many of our U14 teams do each year. Although Radley had a clean sweep of wins, there was much gained from the contest and the Bedford boys demonstrated a fair amount of grit to stay in the fight. Mr Sanders said this about the F team, “F fixture was a good experience for the boys. Radley 47 – Bedford 15. Our boys were slightly overawed in the first half but regrouped and performed much better in the second half. A lack of tackling against larger boys proved costly early on, allowing Radley to score multiple times. However, we struck back in a similar fashion, with William Tian scoring three tries either side of half time.”