By Airship Andy
October 1 2011
Two tries and a penalty from Bristol against five penalties from the hosts saw Bristol edge to a narrow win in unseasonable conditions. Bristol took two-point lead late in the game and Bedford's frantic efforts were in vain
A low-key start, with the early pressure from Bedford, playing down the slope. It was nearly 10 minutes before Bristol even got into the Bedford half. Tristan Roberts sent a lovely kick well into Bedford territory. The hosts failed to clear well from the lineout and Bristol pressed into the 22 by way of Sean Marsden and a forward drive. Sadly, Bristol were penalised as they threatened the Bedford line. Bedford worked their way stolidly into Bristol territory and Bristol were penalised to give the hosts a chance of points. Sharp was spot-on for a three-nil lead.
Bedford started to look a bit more purposeful and they kept up the territorial pressure on the visitors. Finally Sean Marsden managed to break clear but his pass to Roberts put the fly half in difficulties and Bedford were able to clear the danger. Bedford won another penalty and Sharp doubled the lead. Shortly after a yellow card were shown to Mariano Sambucetti which ensured that Bedford would continue on the front foot. Another penalty was well struck by Sharp and it was nine-nil with half an hour gone.
Bristol tried to hit back but failed to make much ground as Mark Irish was pushed into touch. Bristol recovered to string together a move, only to be penalised on the edge of the hosts’ 22. A free-kick at scrum time allowed Bristol to try another attacking move, which again terminated in another Bedford penalty. The return of Sambucetti saw Bristol get the nudge on in the scrum but as soon as the ball went out to the backs it was knocked on. Bristol threatened again with a nice rolling maul but Jack Tovey was stripped of the ball as Bristol tried to move wide and the half petered tamely out.
Could Bristol take advantage of the Goldington Road slope? Surely the hosts had the experience to cope? It looked as if Bristol crossed the line virtually from the restart but the referee ruled offside. They soon had a penalty chance and Tristan Roberts with his first kick of the game narrowed the gap to 9-3. George Watkins got Bristol going forward, Marsden and Tovey backing him up; only for the hard-won possession to be coughed up and Bedford kicked the ball clear. Bristol claimed the lineout and Tovey was the grateful recipient of the hard work of the pack and he touched down for a simple converted try. Bristol now led by a single point.
The pack mauled the ball well and Bedford could only halt the move illegally to give Roberts a tricky kick at the posts. He sent it well wide. Bristol managed to reclaim the ball and went through a few phases before the final pass was adjudged forward by the crowd. The visitors were then awarded a penalty at the scrum and Roberts kicked to touch. Bristol drove the lineout but Bedford held out well and good counter-rucking won a relieving penalty. The rash of Bristol replacements saw Bedford take the ball to Bristol, only stopped by fine Watkins tackle. A penalty went to Bedford in front of the posts and they went 12-10 in front. This heralded a fine attack from Bedford with only the bounce the ball preventing the try. Another penalty to Bedford and Sharp landed his fifth successive penalty for 15-10.
Bristol headed down to the Bedford 22 and Matt Williams sprinted along the wing only to be bundled into touch. Bristol still had territorial pressure and Bedford were penalised at the scrum five metres out. Bristol elected to scrum again but the ball was turned over, yet another golden chance wasted. Bedford cleared with a penalty to touch but Bristol claimed the lineout. As the ball went out into midfield Tovey knocked on. Bristol then managed to string together a move from Watkins and Williams. Marsden was alert, he gave the killer pass Tovey who then crashed over. Roberts converted and, rather against the run of things, Bristol were 15-17 in front. With time running out Bristol needed to hang on. Bedford claimed possession only to knock-on. Still Bedford tried to get in a point scoring position. A half- break, halted by Winters, but still Bedford edged forward. A penalty! Taken quickly, surprisingly! A pass flung out but touched forward by Bristol hand. Deliberate? "No" said the touch judge and the game was over.