Bedford moving towards the elite


Having visited two of Bedford’s fixtures so far this season, a 24-17 victory over Oundle and a 22-11 victory away at Oakham, I feel fairly confident in saying that they are one of the better sides out there this year.

Add to that an enormous 44-7 win over Uppingham, and the argument becomes even more compelling. The improvement in the side from week one is clear to see, their set piece has tightened up, and where against Oundle they were prepared to back their sublime defence and organisation letting the Northamptonshire side have the ball, today they looked to use it, attacking from deep several times.

Perhaps the best example of this was a stunning try from his own half from full back Nethersole. It showed Bedford at their best, with aggressive defence yielding a turnover before fast and intricate hands released Nethersole.

What seems to set them apart at the moment though is the ball handling skills of their forwards. Big ball carriers such as their Number 8, Lyons, continually surprise opposition defences by appearing out wide and with a delicacy quite at odds with their size, use their ball skills to release the wingers.

Their other major advantage at this stage of the season is their defence. With the outstanding Charlie Esam leading the way, their line is always perfectly in touch with one another even whilst flying up at pace.

Their major skill in this area though is their strength at the breakdown, adept at getting hands on the ball and bodies in the way, Bedford turn over more ball than most other school sides would dream of. It is their ability to recognise when the turnover is on or not that is impressive though.

The Bedford defensive line is always more full than the opposition attack, the only time this is not the case is when they get a whiff of a turnover. That is no coincidence; it is down to organisation, discipline, and that most valuable of commodities on a rugby pitch – communication.

There is no doubting that this is a top notch Bedford side this year, the question for them is how good do they want to be?

They have the opportunity to be considered one of the very best and their next game against Tonbridge is an excellent chance to show their credentials, while a fixture with Daily Mail champions Dulwich College on the 13th October will be the defining moment of their season.

The reason I am so confident of their sucess? They are disappointed. Coming off the field after victory today at Oakham, (who are, let us not forget, one fo the great rugby schools) Bedford were deeply disappointed with their performance. After sending messages of congratulations to some of them, their overwheming reaction was why? That is the sign of a really top side, a side who beat the opposition comfortably, who you can see posess the ability, yet they want more.

They are certainly a very good side, just how good is up to them.

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