Bedford v Bristol Premiership Play-off preview

Bedford Blues are hoping it’s third time lucky when they face Bristol in the Championship promotion play-off this weekend.

Bris have a 100 per cent record against the Blues in the league this season, but both encounters have been hugely physical and massively entertaining.

When Bris came to Goldington Road in September they left with the narrowest of 6-5 wins. Luke Fielden scored the only try of the game but the W went Bristol’s way thanks to two Adrian Jarvis penalties.

Bedford made the journey to Bristol the week before Christmas and it was a bitterly cold evening for rugby but the travelling fans were treated to an intense first half which saw the Blues leading 16-10 at the break thanks to an Ollie Dodge try and 11 points from James Pritchard’s boot.

Unfortunately for Bedford the hosts showed their class running in four second half tries to secure the win.

Both teams won their opening play-off fixtures and Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer is expecting another thrilling game on Saturday.

“We’ve had two cracking games against Bristol during the regular season and the lads learnt a lot about themselves from those games,” said Rayer.

“We saw two superb defensive displays in the first game and in the second we all saw the attacking flair that both sides have. I think that we could see a good mix of both come 3pm on Saturday.

“We’ve kicked off the play-offs with a positive result and although it may have been an ugly win, it was a win all the same and we couldn’t ask for more than that.

“The lads have reacted really well in training this week and we’ve identified areas where we need to improve on the Plymouth performance.

“I don’t think we are lacking any motivation for this game whatsoever and I’ve seen in training that the boys are all itching to get on with it.”

Bedford make two changes to the team that started at Brickfield – one enforced, one tactical. Chris Goodman suffered a hamstring injury during the Plymouth game so Paul Tupai moves back to number 8 and Mike Howard slots in at lock while Sacha Harding comes in for a straight swap with Ben Lewitt.

Bristol return to Goldington Road for a second time this season and will look to continue their winning record against Bedford Blues.

The second fixture in the play-off stages promises to be a fierce battle, with both sides winning their opening games of the campaign last weekend.

Club Captain Roy Winters returns to action for Bristol after injury, while James Phillips makes the move from the second row to start at Number 8 against the Blues.


Darren Crompton (pictured) enters the front row alongside Mark Irish and Ross Johnston.

In the backs, only one change is shown form last weekend’s team as Alex Crockett comes into the starting XV.


Bristol XV


Luke Arscoot; Lee Robinson, Alex Crockett, Junior Fatialofa, Dan Norton, Adrian Jarvis, Jason Spice ©; Mark Irish, Ross Johnston, Darren Crompton, Nathan Budgett, Roy Winters, Dan Montagu, Redford Pennycook, James Phillips

Ollie Hayes, Wayne Thompson, Iain Grieve, James Merriman, Robbie Shaw, Sam Giddens, Luke Eves

Bedford XV :

15. James Pritchard , 14. Luke Fielden , 13. Brendan Burke , 12. Ian Vass , 11. Duncan Taylor , 10. Myles Dorrian , 9. Will Chudley,1. Sam Walsh , 2. Dan Richmond (c) , 3. Dan Seal , 4. Mike Howard , 5. Alex Rae , 6. Gregor Gillanders , 7. Sacha Harding , 8. Paul Tupai

Replacements: 16. Chris Locke, 17. Phil Boulton, 18. John Harlock, 19. Ben Lewitt, 20. Nick Walshe, 21. Brad Davies, 22. Ian Davey

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