Bedford Colts go through to the final of the East Midlands Referees Cup today, having displayed strength in depth, maturity and attention to detail to come back from 19-5 at half time.

Kettering were our visitors in the semi-final today. In what is always closely contested matches, and what is often a great spectacle of Colts Rugby for neutral supporters, today didn’t disappoint.

Bedford have been without games for a number of weeks and were clearly a bit rusty when the game started. Kettering however started with a fire in their belly and their usual strength and skill especially at the breakdown and close quarters. With two converted tries by Kettering in the first ten minutes, it looked like it could be a long day at the office for the Bedford Colts.

Bedford’s set piece wasn’t working and we were struggling to retain our own ball throughout much of the first half. It wasn’t until a determined effort by Aaron Brown (our very own stand in Hooker for the day) that we eventually crossed the whitewash 32 minutes into the game for an unconverted try. Kettering responded immediately with another try from their scrum half who Bedford were struggling to contain. Leaving the score at 19-5 to Kettering at half time.

Discussions were had at half time about how Bedford needed to secure the breakdown, retain possession and play on their own terms. We unloaded our entire bench, which yet again proved to demonstrate the strength in depth that we have within the squad.

The second half started much better for Bedford despite playing against the weather conditions. Three minutes into the half Tom Litchfield crossed the line in a great solo effort having broken a number of tackles from 15 meters and converted his own try.

At 12-19 Bedford started to sense that the game could turn, increased their intensity and started to play the game we know they are capable of. This was rewarded 15 minutes later by a captains try from Liam Holland. Score 19-17 and we are in the game.

Bedford were now keeping control, possession and territory and as such starting to dominate the game. Getting the front foot ball we needed to play, it was only 3 minutes later that great phase play and patience saw Litchfield cross the line again, this time converted by George Bennett who was changing the style of play from outside half.

With the score at 24-19 and only 5 minutes remaining on the clock, we knew that Kettering are a team that will never give up – they threw the kitchen sink at Bedford Colts. Bedford however now were playing their usual brand of rugby and retaining possession of the ball. Kettering were infringing our play and after two consecutive penalties against Kettering, Bedford found themselves within kicking distance (and the odd shout from the touchline), Litchfield stepped up for the conversion, making it 27-19 with only a couple of minutes to play and putting the game out of Kettering’s reach.

With the referee not spotting a touch judge flag in the dying minutes of the game, Kettering were able to cross the line with an unconverted try to finish the match at 27-24 to Bedford in a well fought out victory.

The footnotes of this report go to:

  • George Murray who has been a stalwart of Bedford Junior Blues for many a year, but heads of to the Army next week. Thank you George, we will all miss you for the remainder of the season and hope to see you around for the odd game in your senior colts year next year
  • To the players and parents who turned up again to cheer on the lads. It makes a big impact
  • To Kettering who are always a formidable and honest opposition and a privilege to play – another great game today