Rugby Union: O'Mahony makes breakthrough

Bedford 35 Harlequins 33
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The Independent Online
AT LAST Bedford have done it. Having gone so close so often this season, they have taken a significant scalp. Harlequins were certainly no pushover, and it needed two injury-time tries to inflict defeat on the Londoners. Bedford have threatened this in their opening season in the top flight and finally Darragh O'Mahony and Joe Ewens, their two double try heroes brought an ecstatic 3,500 crowd to their feet.

O'Mahony benefited from a stupendous break by the two back-row men Junior Paramore and Jason Forster, not so much workhorses as iron horses. The flying wing O'Mahony was on the end of Forster's pass and crossed under the posts to present Sam Howard with a straightforward kick for the winning points.

Three minutes earlier Quins had been sand-bagged when Ewens burst clear for his second touchdown as the home side turned a certain away victory on its head. It was fully deserved as well. They had more than competed in the set pieces, dominating the line-outs and, early on, robbing Quins of possession on their own throw.

This Allied Dunbar Premiership match throbbed with thrills from beginning to end. Although it began to look as if an old All Black master, John Schuster, had put the boot into Bedford and some heart into Harlequins.

After falling behind in the opening quarter of an hour Harlequins needed the injection of self-belief that Schuster provided with a try and accurate goal kicking to thrust them in front. Schuster, now 34, who won the last of his 10 New Zealand caps in 1989, brought a wealth of experience to bear and Harlequins' worked their way upfield after the shock of conceding 13 points without reply in 15 minutes. A glimpse of the line was all Schuster needed for his try, which he converted.

A second try followed, from Rory Jenkins after a line-out and Schuster's stunning touchline conversion gave them a lead which the former All Black increased with his first two penalties. He has missed just one kick out of 32 this season and his performance with the boot could well help him win a place in next year's World Cup.

A Tony Yapp drop goal kept Bedford in touch after the interval but Quins increased their lead after Dan Luger's 50- metre dash for a try and another Schuster penalty. Then came a stunning try by O'Mahony, whose 40-metre sprint for his first try in the 65th minute set up the fantastic finale. It was marred by his opposite number Jason Keyter, who, when well-beaten, attempted some foul play on the Irishman for which he was subsequently penalised. But it mattered not. The day belonged to Bedford.

Bedford: S Howard; R Underwood, J Ewens, A Murdoch (capt), D O'Mahony; T Yapp, C Harrison; N Hatley, J Richards, C Boyd, D Zaltzman, S Murray, R Winters, J Paramore, J Forster.

Harlequins: D O'Leary; J Keyter, J Schuster, P Mensah, D Luger; T Lacroix (capt), H Harries; D Barnes, K Wood, G Halpin, G Llewellyn, G Morgan, B Davidson, A Leach, R Jenkins.

Referee: R Goodliffe (Sheffield).