bristolrugby.net
BRIS BEAT BEDFORD - BUT BARELY
By Ian Todd
January 29 2018

A deeply uncomfortable win for Bristol who were behind for most of the game.  In the end it was clean possession from the set piece that allowed them to claim the victory.  An irony in that the scrum had been a source of weakness throughout much of the previous seventy minutes.  Still, a win is a win.  But Bristol will have to perform at a much higher level when they take on their closest rivals in two weeks time.

Bristol kicked off the game but it was the visitors who made the early running.  A very poor Bristol scrum (something of a ‘feature’ all afternoon) saw them both shoved back and then penalised.  Bedford kicked for territory and then another penalty allowed them to go for touch in the corner.  A throw to the front of the lineout and they drove for the line.  The move was halted and Chris Vui was shown a decisive yellow card.  Despite being in that corner I could not see what it was for.  Unsurprisingly Bedford opted to try the same move from the ensuing penalty and they rumbled over the line only for the referee to rule the ball had been held up.  The Bristol scrum managed to hold its own at this point but Bedford quickly got the ball clear and smashed over, only for the ball to once more be held up. It was third time lucky for Bedford when they swiftly moved the ball left for Adamson to stroll over untouched for a converted try.

Bristol had scarcely touched the ball for most of the game but some very slack passing from Bedford in their own half had the effect of putting themselves under pressure and good work from Dan Thomas, who made it very clear to the referee how he was struggling to wrest the ball from the Bedford player on the ground, saw Ian Madigan continue his fine kicking form with a well struck penalty kick.  Bristol then got tuned over and penalised to allow Bedford to quickly wipe out that score.

Bristol finally managed some incisive play when, under pressure in their own 22, a Bedford box kick was charged down, bounced to Rhodri Williams who hoofed the ball downfield.  Luke Morahan sprinted after it and his determination was rewarded when the Bedford fullback Czekaj failed to gather the ball (it looked like he was unaware how close the Bristol player was) and Morahan slid in for an unconverted try.  Bristol were penalised, slightly harshly, soon afterwards and Bedford were deservedly 8 – 13 up at half-time.

Bristol went looking for an early score in the second half but Bedford were resolute in defence and, in fact, looking sharper going forward with Bristol living off scraps of possession.  However they made the most of that possession and Bedford gave away a soft penalty to allow Madigan to narrow the gap to 11 – 13.

It looked as if Bedford had scored another try when Packman cut a good line to slice the Bristol defence apart but the referee asked the TMO to take a look at things and the conclusion was that blocking had opened the path.  The Bedford player had clearly deliberately obstructed the Bristol defender.  Less clear was that the Bristol player concerned would actually have been able to make the tackle.  On balance it was probably the correct decision, made easier by the obvious nature of the obstruction.  Credit goes to the officials who used the TMO sparingly and made their calls quickly.

It was a real let off for the hosts and they took full advantage when a rare secure scrum five metres out allowed replacement Nick Haining to pick up cleanly and crash over for a converted try and an 18 – 13 lead.  Bristol still had to hold out for the best part of ten minutes but looked relatively secure with a determined and well-drilled defence snuffing out the Bedford threat to allow the hosts to chalk up their 14th league victory after being given a real scare.