Bedford Blues 43 pts – Army 29
England international Lt Col Edgar Mobbs, CO of the 7th Northamptons, who was killed in battle at the Somme in 1917, would have appreciated the rugby and character shown by both the Bedford Blues and the Army at the Memorial Match on 13th March.
Maybe it’s a cliché but this match defined a game of two halves.
Until half time the Blues showed true Championship form and moved the ball across the Goldstone Ground to secure four tries and a 28pts-nil lead. After the break the Army forwards came to life, they spread the ball and right wing Sammy Speight grabbed three excellent tries. Lock Luke Bellinger wrestled and ran 20m to crash over for a fourth.
Hooker Mattie Dwyer, leaner and fitter, fizzed and one break down the flank exposed some loose tackling. Encouraged, Bellinger also had a bit of a thrash whilst Ledua Jope at No8 found new energy and provided a ruck / maul pivot for the Reds to drive forward.
The return to form of skipper Darrell Ball after injury has certainly made an impact.
He was invariably the first ‘heavy’ to arrive at the breakdown. He directed the effort with swift second and third phase ball providing Speight with some room to manoeuvre; he took his three opportunities with panache.
Martin takes risks to change the shape of things and also takes more than his fair share of stick.
The upside is an attacking ethos from the place where it really must start. Outside Martin, James Read put in another assured performance at No10.
Peceli Nacamavuto was solid in attack and defence and quickly re-learned that ‘half breaks are no breaks’ and end up with the perpetrator being clattered. Nevertheless, you would not wish to bet on which way he was going!
The first half was a bit of a lesson for the Reds but the second pleased Head Coach Axel Rees.
“We showed what we could do in the second half with a solid ‘up-front’ to build position and a bit of magic from the backs. Sammy Speight’s three tries were top drawer individual finishes but the rest of the team did well against a strong Blues outfit to put him in the strike zone. We have work to do but I am sure we can all see the team way ahead”.