Clinical Blues put promising OAs to the sword

Replacement, Justin Blanchett makes the tackle. Picture: Nigel Rudgard

Replacement, Justin Blanchett makes the tackle. Picture: Nigel Rudgard - Credit: Archant

This was a stern test for Old Albanian and some salutary lessons have been learned in a clash which pointed out many of the differences between life in the Championship and National One, writes Brian Quinn.

There is no substitute for pace, especially when it involves getting to the advantage line quicker than your opponent, and in the middle of the match Bedford demonstrated this art with some aplomb.

Thus OA’s attackers did not have the time they needed to turn promising movement into decisive break as the hosts’ power defence closed the space between the two lines very quickly. For half an hour the visitors laboured to find a way through but were closed down so fast that the ball carrier was often faced with two tacklers.

This was particularly evident when Steven Ellis, an import from Luton, snatched an interception wide on the right and raced to the line for Bedford’s second score.

Such was the pressure that A’s found themselves 26-0 adrift at the break and with just over an hour gone two more tries had been added. Bedford showed incision and precision with the ball in hand and speed and aggression in defence.

However, for the first quarter the visitors held their own before the mini deluge and Bedford suffered the twin indignities of coughing up possession in the loose and two strikes against the head at the scrum. Obviously there was nothing wrong with OA forward play even if Bedford tidied up these deficiencies for the next 40 minutes.

The final quarter was spent almost exclusively in Bedford territory and Sam Lunnon had the pleasure of crossing the whitewash for the first try of the season.

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The lineout worked well for the entire evening with only one going astray and this was made up for in stolen Bedford throws.

OA’s efforts at the breakdown were promising in the face of the more experienced side and the work of Brett MacNamee and particularly Billy Johnson, who had a storming evening, let the travelling supporters know there was plenty of fire in OA intentions. Props Andy Berry and Charlie Hughes gave a good account of themselves in exalted company.

Outside the pack half backs Jordi Pasqualin and Will Magie showed well against their opponents and much can be expected from this exciting combination in the coming league campaign. Jack Daly put his short time under fire to very good use and Nick Foster showed well when old stalwart Richard Gregg was rested.

In the engine room Ross Hamilton excelled at the lineout and in the loose and on the eve of his 42nd birthday Jon Phillips showed he still has the legs and the stomach for the fray.

In short, the attitude shown by the squad pleased coach Andy Holloway who now looks forward to the trip to Cambridge next Saturday and the visit of Canterbury the following week when the lessons learned at Goldington Road can be put into practice.