Bedford Blues 16 - 29 Ealing Trailfinders
Ealing Trailfinders won for the first time at Goldington Road after Mark Bright and Miles Mantella scored tries either side of half-time and Aaron Penberthy scored 19 points with his boot.
It was a match that was littered by elementary mistakes from both sides, but after Ealing Trailfinders weathered 20 minutes of Bedford Blues dominating possession and territory they eventually broke free of their half to take the lead and control the remainder of the match.
The result means Ben Ward’s side stay fourth in the Greene King IPA Championship and in the play-off places.
The opening 10 minutes were pock-marked by basic errors by both teams, but once the match settled down it was Ealing Trailfinders who opened the scoring when Aaron Penberthy knocked over a penalty after the pack had put the squeeze on their opponents at a scrum.
As both teams began to find their stride Miles Mantella made an important interception to stop a Blues overlap from being exploited. Nonetheless fly-half Miles Dorrian kicked them level with his first penalty of the day.
Penberthy responded with his second penalty to restore the lead after a number of carries from the pack forced Bedford into offending. They then enjoyed a good five-minute period on the Blues’ line, but the home side’s defence held strong to repel the danger.
The hosts showed the threat they pose on the counter as they scored their first try. Piers O’Conor found space to attack out wide, Ed Packman collected O’Conor’s rubber, held off the defence and off-loaded for O’Conor to cross.
Ealing Trailfinders hit back quickly with a try of their own and again the pack was to fore. First came a lineout catch and drive and when the Blues stopped that, first Kieran Murphy and then Mark Bright attacked the line, with the captain breaking through to score by the posts.
Penberthy converted the try and then landed his third penalty to stretch the lead further, but after Bedford built some momentum deep in the visitors half, Dorrian kicked his second penalty.
The Blues continued their attacking intent after the break and good hands from Will Carrick-Smith and Ollie Dodge set fullback Elliot Clements-Hill free to race home.
They continued to enjoy the bulk of possession and territory up to the hour mark, albeit without being able to find their way through the Ealing Trailfinders defence again.
Lewis Jones stopped number 8 Jason Hill on the line and his 14 teammates all dug deep to hold the Blues out. Then when Ealing Trailfinders did break out of their own half Penberthy scored his fourth penalty of the day to restore the visitors lead.
Ealing Trailfinders still had to be on the mettle in defence, but after Aled Jenkins won a turnover, Joe Munro led a counter-attack to set up position close to the Bedford line. It appeared the hosts had averted the danger, but Mantella swooped on a loose pass to race clear for his third try in two matches.
With five minutes to go Penberthy scored his fifth penalty and while he missed a sixth, by then he and his teammates were in full control of proceedings as the clocked ticked to fulltime.
Tries (O’Conor 25, Clements-Hill 45), Penalties (Dorrian 15, 38)
Tries (Bright 30, Mantella 73), Conversions (Penberthy 30, 75), Penalties (Penberthy 11, 17, 35, 65, 75)
Elliot Clement-Hill, Howard Packman, Piers O'Conor, Ollie Dodge, Dean Adamson, Myles Dorrian (captain), Tom Whiteley; Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Dan George, Billy Walker, Jordan Onojaife, Will Carrick-Smith, Paul Tupai, Ben Adams, Jason Hill
Jacob Fields, Camillo Parilli-Ocampo, Ben Cooper, Byron Hodge, Justin Blanchet, Jordan Burns, Jake Sharp
Luke Daniels, Miles Mantella, Aled Jenkins, Joe Munro, James Cordy-Redden, Aaron Penberthy, Alex Walker; Will Davis, Alun Walker, Lewis Thiede, Llewelyn Jones, Barney Maddison, Kieran Murphy, Arthur Ellis, Mark Bright (captain)
Matt Cornish, Ignacio Lancuba, Sam Rodman, Harry Casson, Rayn Smid, Josh Davies, Lewis Jones
Referee – Matthew O’Grady
Attendance – 2,094