Bedford showed all of the class that they have demonstrated in their unbeaten season so far to defeat Epsom College 28-21 in the Champions Trophy final at Allianz Park.
After two glorious semi finals, anticipation was high ahead of this one, with both sides capable of top class rugby and with some outstanding players in their ranks too.
It was Bedford though who were able to show that class best, and perhaps fittingly, for in the previous two rounds they have undoubtedly been the form team in this tournament, possibly the country.
Bedford had dominated the opening half of the game, but only went into the half time break a point up.
They had scored a glorious try through winger Faysal Olabooye after just ten minutes as he streaked down the left hand touchline. Three penalties from fly half Oli Burgess had given them a 14-3 lead, Epsom College captain Niall Saunders had landed one for his side.
With just three minutes remaining in the half though, Epsom openside James Gulliver hauled his side back into the game with a wonderful darting effort from close range, Epsom’s first real attack of the game.
With the conversion, that kept the half time score at a close 14-13 to Bedford. N the second half though, it quickly became clear that Bedford intended to turn their possession and territory into points.
After just two minutes of the half, Burgess scored a try of sheer instinctive class, bobbing and weaving his way through the Epsom defenders before diving over next to the posts.
It was the crowning moment of what was undoubtedly a man of the match performance, Burgess looked a class apart whether he was kicking, passing or running all day long.
Converting his own try, he put his side 21-13 up, and leaving Epsom needing points, and soon. They though they had them with a four man overlap, but Bedford winger Tunde Adewale stuck his hand out for what he, and his teammates, will probably remember as their favourite ever deliberate knock on.
It cost them a yellow card, but after stopping a near certain try, and seeing the ten minute period out without conceding, it was perhaps the key moment in the entire game.
Saunders did land a penalty for Epsom to reduce the gap shortly after Adewale came back on but almost straight from the kick off, Bedford produced the moment of the match to score the decisive try.
Returning a kick from Epsom, Olabooye released Northampton Saints full back Fraser Dingwall, who danced through the defence before releasing second row Phillip Cooper.
Cooper was quite outstanding, showing that trait we saw from New Zealand forwards during the World Cup of calmness under pressure. Rather than giving it to one of his speedsters early, he drew Epsom full back Harry Cooke, and rather than look wide, allowing Cooke to drift, he shifted it back inside for Shay Boyd at outside centre to score. It was truly brilliant rugby.
Burgess, by this point completely metronomic with the boot, converted to put his side 12 points clear at 28-16.
With just over ten minutes remaining, the scenes on the touchline became more celebratory, Bedford realizing they were nearly home and hosed, and Epsom looking to demonstrate their obvious, and deserved, pride in their team.
No wonder they were proud, with time ticking Epsom still refused to give up and were rewarded for that with a try in the last play of the game through openside James Gulliver, who blasted his way over down the right hand touchline for his second of the game.
As Saunders’ conversion blasted against the post, the referee blew his final whistle, confirming Bedford as just the second ever Champions Trophy winners.
This group of young Bedford players will treasure this memory, they were quite spectacular at times, as they have been all season. For much of this game they dominated the game, yet Epsom showed their class by continually managing to haul themselves back into it, and will wonder that might have been had they managed to cross the line at that yellow card, or had Saunders not been called back for a foot in touch.
Bedford played with a sense of control though, their kicking game controlled the territory, and their broken field runners were quite exceptional.
The Champions Trophy will be kept this year by a very worthy side indeed.
Full Time: Bedford 28-21 Epsom College
15 Fraser Dingwall, 14 Faysal Olabooye, 13 Shay Boyd, 12 Fraser Strachan, 11 Tunde Adewale, 10 Oliver Burgess (vc), 9 Jack Dalton, 1 George Cave (c), 2 William Kerr, 3 Colston Kane, 4 Philip Cooper, 5 David Hickey, 6 Simon Beal, 7 Charlie Clarke, 8 Jake Carter.
Replacements: 16 Edward Jonson, 17 Euan Weed, 18 William Bowes, 19 Alexander Dennis, 20 Oliver Hind, 21 (1) William Entwistle, 22 Joseph Rogers.
15 Harry Cooke, 14 William Kibblewhite, 13 Gareth Stephens, 12 Adam Causer, 11 Peter O’Brien, 10 Isaac Braithwaite, 9 Niall Saunders (c), 1 Oscar Vaughan, 2 Callum Torpey, 3 Elliot King, 4 William Hobday, 5 Connor Norris, 6 Oscar Waite, 7 James Gulliver, 8 William Onslow-Wyld.
Replacements: 16 Tristan Bartlett, 17 Angus Clements, 18 Nicholas Phizackerley, 19 Ivo Slot, 20 Max Turner, 21 Jamie Anderson, 22 Nicholas Whitehead.
Tries: Olabooye, Burgess, Boyd.
Cons: Burgess x2
Pens: Burgess x3
Tries: Gulliver x2
Pens: Saunders x3