Rugby Union: O'Mahony stakes claim

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Bedford 35 Harlequins 33

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to believe that Darragh O'Mahony is not among the best 47 Irish-qualified players. Yet Bedford's left wing has not heard a dickie bird from across the water and does not have a place in the Ireland training squad for the forthcoming autumn internationals. The last of his three caps was in the defeat against Italy in Bologna last December. It is a criminal waste of talent.

His director of coaching, Geoff Cooke, reckons the speedy O'Mahony has all the skills and footballing brain to slot in at stand-off for his country. His two tries in the thrilling victory over Harlequins were not the only things he did right. His wickedly fast incursion into the line on a loop off his wing set up Joe Ewens for the first of his try double.

O'Mahony was delighted. "I think everyone has a day like that, when everything goes for them. I thank God that today was mine." But his joy was tempered with a touch of bitterness at the petulant and potentially dangerous antics of Quins wing Jason Keyter when O'Mahony had left him floundering in his jetstream as he crossed for his first try.

Keyter impetuously swung a boot at his opposite number when O'Mahony was already over the line and the try was secure, but he did not even receive a white card for the cheap shot.

"I wasn't too happy," the Cork flyer admitted. "I was sin-binned a couple of weeks ago for something which was nowhere near as bad. If a guy kicks you and then doesn't get sin-binned it's inconsistent. They have to sort it out. A kick is a kick in my eyes. If I kicked a guy I would expect to get a red card."

"I am ashamed," Keyter had the grace to admit later. "I am going to find him now and apologise. I was possibly lucky to stay on and I might well have got sin-binned, which is what the referee told me."

By then, though, Quins were on the slide. They, too, had fought back well after allowing themselves to be sandbagged early on by a spirited home side who blasted into a comfortable lead within quarter of an hour. That Quins retaliated spoke volumes for their own team spirit.

The remarkable kicking skills of the former All Black John Schuster, who has succeeded with 31 of the 32 goal-kicks he has taken in Allied Dunbar Premiership matches and a solitary Anglo-Welsh match this season, and his canny reading of the game, meant Bedford suddenly found themselves running into a brick wall as Quins clawed back the advantage before streaking ahead.

By the time O'Mahony crossed for his first try, Quins looked to have the match sewn up. Schuster's fourth penalty re-established a cushion for them and they just had to see out the last 10 minutes and a little more for injuries. But Quins had reached the comfort zone a little prematurely.

Bedford bided their time for a further 11 minutes until Ewens scorched through the middle of a bemused defence. By the time Quins restarted the game there were just 50 seconds left on his watch according to the referee, Robin Goodliffe. All Quins had to do was secure possession then kick the ball dead.

They were not allowed to. Instead, Bedford's outstanding back row men Junior Paramore and Jason Forster burst clear, thundered upfield, and the latter found O'Mahony in support. He triumphantly touched down under the posts. All square. Sam Howard's simple conversion won it.

Bedford: Tries Ewens 2, O'Mahony 2; Conversions Howard 3; Penalties Howard 2; Drop goal Yapp. Harlequins: Tries Schuster, Jenkins, Luger; Conversions Schuster 3; Penalties Schuster 4.

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 (rep R Nebbit 52), G Llewellyn, G Morgan, B Davidson, A Leach, R Jenkins.

Referee: R Goodliffe (Sheffield).