Rugby Union: Rayer of hope for Bedford

Bedford 32 Moseley 16
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The Independent Online
The fortunes of Bedford and Naseem Hamed go hand in boxing glove, so this was a good weekend for Frank Warren, whose money is invested in both.

In terms of cash cows, the former is a pauper, the latter a prince. The Blues, as Bedford are known, are monopolising Premiership League Two. In front of a crowd of 3,000, this was their 15th successive victory, the 11th in the league.

Like Naseem, Bedford may go up a division - and then their problems will really start. As Paul Turner, their veteran player-coach, said: "We are not yet ready for the First Division, and we are going to have to look in the second half of the season to see what we need to go further. We certainly need to sign more players. That hit us firmly in the face with our lack of performance in the early part of the season. Some players are coming through and there are obviously some quality players here, but there are only four or five of them at the moment."

On a heavy pitch at Goldington Road, Bedford became bogged down and increasingly frustrated by the decisions of the referee, who frequently penalised them for all manner of offences.

The Blues, who put 70 points past Coventry in their last appearance a month ago, began as if they would do the same to Moseley. A series of bewildering attacks involving dummies, miss-moves, reverse passes and any other sleight of hand Turner could think of, resulted in early tries for Alistair Murdoch and Mike Rayer.

Moseley, though, coached by Allan Lewis, the former Llanelli and Wales coach, are made of sterner stuff. Far from throwing in the towel, with the Canadian international Al Charron in impressive form, they took the game to Bedford, and were in the thick of it when they were 19-10 down at half-time. But for a try-saving tackle by Junior Paramore on Steve Hackney it would have been closer.

After Matt Jones had narrowed the gap with a penalty, Moseley lost their scrum-half, Robert Rush, with a neck injury. Rush, the brother of the All Black Eric, lay flat out for a few minutes before anybody could attract the attention of the referee Robin Goodliffe. Another few minutes elapsed before a stretcher party arrived. It was a lamentable performance.

Although Rush was taken to hospital it is not thought that the injury was serious. Early reports suggested he was not injured as severely as at first feared, and had suffered compression and bruising to his neck but no fractures.

As Bedford's frustrations with the referee continued to surface, Rayer conceded a penalty after telling Mr Goodliffe what he thought of him. But nevertheless, Bedford were indebted to the former Cardiff and Wales full-back. He added another try and his total of 17 points brought his aggregate for the season to 197 points.

Rayer is well on course to exceed his club record of 361 points which he established last season. However, whether Rayer, or Bedford for that matter, will prosper in Premiership One next season remains to be seen.

Bedford: M Rayer; H Pflugler, A Murdoch, B Whetstone, R Underwood; P Turner (capt), S Crabb (A Kardooni, 80); D Hinkins (N Hatley, 68), R Kirke, C Boyd, S Murray, R Thompson (M Deans, 72), R Winters, J Paramore, J Forster.

Moseley: A Binns (J Liley, 78); R Martin, D Harris, L Criscuolo, S Hackney; M Jones, R Rush (C Mulraine, 47); H Hurley (J Clark, 78), D Geraghty (J Long, 78), S MacKinon, M McAtamney, R Denhardt (capt), B Drake-Lee (J Cockle, 78), A Charron, I Smith

Referee: R Goodliffe (RFU).