Bedford Blues 15 Rotherham Titans 42: Wilson too dashing for Bedford as Rotherham respond

Rotherham winger Curtis Wilson scored a superb hat-trick at Goldington Road where the Titans remarkably thrashed their traditional foe by eight tries to two as the Clifton Lane side recovered strongly from the season’s opening defeat against London Scottish.
Curtis WilsonCurtis Wilson
Curtis Wilson

Bedford were demolished as Rotherham’s pace, enterprise, swift handling and resolve produced four tries in each half; interestingly, the margin of victory would have been larger if the team’s goal kickers had not missed 17 points – seven conversions and a penalty.

The usual accuracy that characterises the game of fly-half James McKinney deserted him – the Ulsterman failed with six conversion attempts – and his replacement Tom Barrett missed one, too.

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Substitute Jordan Davies, replacing the injured centre Jack Roberts, who scored Rotherham’s first try, also failed with a long-range penalty kick.

Bedford, though, were not reprieved in other important aspects. Crucially, their pack was prevented from breaking through at lineouts near Rotherham’s line on 26 and 57 minutes. The Titans’ pack, which had been unable to defend rolling mauls against London Scottish, successfully withstood the pressure at Bedford.

In terms of the team’s self-confidence, this improvement was as significant as the flair that also produced tries for winger James Broadley, centre Chris Harris, his first for Rotherham, and two for hooker Tom Cruse.

Another player to stand out on his full Championship debut was full-back Lloyd Hayes.

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Solid and calm in defence and threatening in attack, the former Chester player, in his second season at Rotherham, seized his opportunity to make an impact in the absence of Sean Scanlon, out with an ankle injury.

Leading 20-10 at the interval following tries by Roberts, Broadley, Harris and Wilson, Rotherham’s fifth score from Cruse, after a powerful drive to Bedford’s line by the pack, provided a 15-point lead on 48 minutes.

The contest, though, was by no means over. A dangerous run by Jake Sharp smashed Rotherham’s defence and instantly Bedford’s forwards sensed an opportunity, but, as before, they were confronted by well-organised defence.

Bedford’s lack of ruthlessness was exploited profitably by Rotherham whose possession continued to supply scoring chances. Wilson’s speed and dazzling footwork on 70 and 78 minutes enabled him to complete a memorable hat-trick, and four minutes into added time, a Bedford attack broke down, Cruse collected a loose ball and ran more than 30 metres to score his second try.

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Bedford Blues: Pritchard, Tapley, Le Bourgeois, Dodge (Sharp 58), Staff, Jones, Veenendaal (White 65), Williams (Moss 52), Clare (Saunders 52), Currie (Boulton 52), Howard (Gulliver 52), Thompson-Stringer, Buggea, Fenton-Wells.

Rotherham Titans: Hayes, Broadley, Roberts (Jordan Davies 33), Harris,Wilson, McKinney (Barrett 67), White (Andy Davies 53), Gadd (Williams 48), Cruse, Tampin (Thiede 48), Parker (Morris 48), Holmes, Birch (Ryan 55), Preece, Rieder.

Referee: S Lee (RFU).