Rugby Union: Bedford in cup shock

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The Independent Online
Bedford 22 Henley 29

HENLEY PROVIDED one of the upsets of modern cup rugby, increasing Bedford's worries to alarming proportions. Bedford have lost 11 consecutive Premiership One matches and were yesterday dumped out of the Tetley's Bitter Cup, becoming only the 14th team from the top division to lose to lower-level opposition in the dozen seasons of league rugby.

Both sides scored four tries but Duncan Roke's goal-kicking proved the difference. He converted three tries and landed a penalty for the visitors, while Bedford's Tony Yapp had an awful day with his boot, managing just one conversion.

Phil Osman, the captain of the Jewson's League One leaders, claimed confidence had been the key to the fourth-round upset. "We had to believe that we could win," he said.

"We found Bedford predictable and their forwards were lightweight compared with the packs that we face in League Three."

Rudi Straeuli, the Bedford player-coach, who came out of retirement this week despite an ankle injury, said: "It is the worst result I have endured in the three years I have been at Bedford. Henley came with the desire and I don't think we had that element."

Henley were bristling with determination right from the start. Gavin Sharp caught a high kick and scooted in for the first of the eight tries with Roke adding the conversion.

Bedford's Jason Forster was driven over from a lineout but Yapp's inaccurate afternoon began when he failed to convert, leaving Henley 7-5 ahead after just nine minutes.

Henley's lock Steve Berriman claimed a similar try in the 18th minute, only for the Bedford full-back, Ben Whetstone, to respond by gathering a grubber kick and plunging over to make it 12-10 to Henley.

Sharp scampered over for his second score in the 34th minute, with Roke again converting, but Whetstone again stole down the blind side of a ruck for Bedford's third try.

Henley's 22-15 interval advantage was eroded in the 49th minute. Forster surged over from a lineout drive and maul. This time Yapp converted to level at 22-22.

The winning try came in the 57th minute when Phil Osman accepted the pass from his brother Russell to burst through feeble tackling finishing off a 70-yard movement. Roke converted and Bedford needed a converted try to draw level, something they never looked capable of.

Bedford: Tries Forster 2, Whetstone 2; Conversions Yapp. Henley: Tries Sharp 2, Berriman, P Osman; Conversions Roke 3; Penalties Roke.

Bedford: Whetstone; Underwood, Ewens, Harris, O'Mahony; Yapp, Harrison, Boyd; Richards, Hartland, Zaltman, Murray, Winters, Forster Straeuli.

Henley: Stebbings; Sharp, Walsh, R Osman, Roke; P Osman, Ayres; Fuller, Cassidy, Lehner, Sampson, Berryman, Barnes, Venner, Mortimer.

Referee: N Yates (Cheshire).