8:00am Monday 24th March 2014
By Ed Mezzetti
London Welsh 29, Bedford Blues 11
London Welsh failed to sparkle at the Kassam Stadium yesterday, despite two tries from Seb Jewell.
The Exiles crossed the whitewash five times to stay second in the Greene King IPA Championship table table, but lacked fluency for much of the game.
Their scrum was again a major plus point and yielded a penalty try just before half-time.
And when skipper Tom May scored early in the second half, it gave Welsh an advantage they never looked like giving up.
However, much of their play was disjointed with some poor kicking, while too many line-outs failed to hit the mark.
Bedford missed one chance to take the lead with a penalty from captain James Pritchard, but Welsh were still caught cold on seven minutes.
A promising attack ended with the hosts being penalised and within seconds Bedford had sent Pritchard racing over in the corner after a slick counter- attack.
Pritchard missed the conversion and another penalty, but his side held sway.
Welsh were kicking poorly in the wind, with half backs Rob Lewis and Will Robinson struggling to find their range.
However, when the hosts finally put a move together, they carved out a try for full back Jewell, who popped up decisively on the left wing after 30 minutes.
Robinson’s conversion came up short in the wind, but his side now had some momentum.
Pritchard made it fourth time lucky with a 38th-minute penalty, but Welsh led 12-8 at the break.
Wing Nick Scott powered into the Bedford 22 and although lock Pete Browne was forced out on the right, Bedford knocked on from the resulting line-out.
Welsh won a penalty at the first scrum and when Bedford infringed again, referee Darren Gamage had no hesitation marching under the posts for a penalty try, which Robinson converted.
Two more scrum penalties at the start of the second half gave Welsh the platform for a third try. Centre May cruised through a gap from Robinson’s pass, with the latter converting.
Bedford reduced the arrears to 19-11 with Pritchard’s second penalty.
The introduction of replacement props Nico Steenkamp and Ben Cooper saw them gain more parity up front, but Welsh still controlled the game.
It took a lot of huffing and puffing, but the Exiles forced a fourth try.
Bedford were penalised for crossing and Welsh took advantage with rare precise move that sent Scott over in the corner.
Welsh’s margin of victory became even more flattering in the final minute when Bedford centre Michael Le Bourgeois fumbled a kick under pressure from May.
Jewell hacked the loose ball forward to touch down his second try.
London Welsh: Jewell, Stegmann, May (capt), Parker, Scott, Robinson (Awcock 69), R Lewis (Cook 53), Bristow (Hepburn 56), Morris (Davis 59), Tideswell (Ryan 63), West, P Browne (Nimmo 53), D Browne, Kirwan (Quill 61), Stedman.
Bedford Blues: Pritchard (capt), Tapley, Le Bourgeois, Atkinson (Burke 50), Hircock, Fenner, Veenendaal (Peck 67), Auterac (Steenkamp 45), Clare (Harris 75), Gilardon-Paz (Cooper 45), Tupai, Wells (Howard 56), Gillanders, Fox (Barrell 56), Fenton-Wells.
Referee: D Gamage (East Midlands).
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