Match Report: Bedford Blues 27-18 Ulster A

Willie Faloon

Willie Faloon was unable to captain Ulster to victory

Ulster A slipped to their first defeat of their British & Irish Cup campaign as they were beaten 27-18 by Bedford Blues at Goldington Park.

Despite having a host of senior players return to the starting line-up, Alex Codling’s men could not pick up a vital away win that would put them in control of Pool 2 and instead return to Belfast with nothing.

Bedford raced into an early lead through a penalty from Jake Sharp and a try from full-back Piers O’Connor, but Ulster hit back courtesy of scores from Rory Scholes and Jonny McPhillips.

Bedford restored control with Jordan Burns’ score and another Sharp penalty, and they made sure of the victory with a late Steffan Jones try after Ulster A fly-half Sam Windsor had reduced the gap with two penalties.

Sharp was on target early with his first effort on goal to give his side a 3-0 lead before an impressive backs move from the hosts unlocked the Ulster A defence and set full-back O’Connor through for the opening five pointer.

Almost immediately Ulster hit back through some good passing and after some missed tackles from the Blues defence, winger Rory Scholes went over for the unconverted score.

Bedford had a few chances to go for three points to extend their lead but turned them down in favour of going for the jugular, but the Ulster A defence held firm and repelled their hosts repeatedly.

And the defence was rewarded with a lightning quick break that resulted in a try – the Ulstermen going from their own 22 all the way up the pitch and Jonny McPhillips was the one who finished it off.

After the try it was Ulster who were building again but it would be the Blues who would score the try just before half-time as a Bedford counter attack this time was effective and Jordan Burns scampered over.

Straight after the break Sharp landed his second penalty of the game to push the English side’s advantage to beyond a converted try.

Ulster A were getting on top in the scrum though and they used that advantage well and Windsor slotted over two penalties to bring them back into the game.

However Windsor’s kicking boots deserted him late on as he missed two further penalties that would have put the visitors in the lead with just ten minutes to play.

And he was made to rue his wastefulness as from nothing Bedford got the try that secured the win as replacement full-back Steffan Jones latched onto a Sharp kick through to get the crucial score.

Windsor had a late penalty to snatch a losing bonus point but he saw that one miss the uprights as well and meant Ulster A would leave with nothing for their efforts.

 

The scorers

For Bedford

Tries: O’Connor, Burns, Jones

Cons: Sharp (3)

Pens: Sharp (2)

For Ulster A

Tries: Scholes, McPhillips

Cons: Windsor

Pens: Windsor (2)

 

BEDFORD BLUES

(15-9) Piers O’Connor, Dean Adamson, Michael le Bourgeois, Ollie Dodge, James Pritchard, Jake Sharp, Jordan Burns; (1-8) Alex Lundberg, Sam James, Camillo Parilli-Ocampo, Mike Howard (capt.), Harry Wells, Justin Blanchet, Josh Buggea, Joel Conlon.

Replacements: Charlie Clare, Jack Culverhouse, Mark Flanagan, Nick Fenton-Wells, Pete White, Myles Dorrian, Steffan Jones.

ULSTER A

(15-9) Jonny McPhillips, Rory Scholes, Sammy Arnold, Luke Marshall, Rob Lyttle, Sam Windsor, Dave Shanahan; (1-8) Andrew Warwick, John Andrew, Jonny Simpson, Lewis Stevenson, Pete Browne, Clive Ross, Willie Faloon (capt.), Sean Reidy.

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Ruaidhri Murphy, Bronson Ross, Alan O’Connor, Stephen Mulholland, Paul Rowley, Callum Patterson.