It was a case of so near but yet so far for Ulster A who came within inches of qualifying for the semi finals of the British and Irish Cup in their quarter final match at Bedford Blues on Saturday afternoon.

Ulster’s Angus Curtis crashed over the line late in the game but was held up by the resolute Bedford defence to give the home team a hard earned 16 – 10 win.

Ulster looked to make all the running in the first half after the Blues opened the scoring with an early penalty from Will Hooley on the seventh minute.

Marcus Rea was the stand out player in the opening exchanges and the Ulster pressure finally told when hooker Adam McBurney touched down, for his 6th try of the tournament, off the back of a lineout maul. Peter Nelson added the extras to give Ulster a 3 – 7 lead.

Bedford, however, kept chipping away and it looked like they were going to take a lead into the break after two more penalties from Hooley but a late response form Nelson gave Ulster a 10 – 9 lead at the break.

Unfortunately for Ulster they had lost the impressive Rea to a shoulder injury and Bedford got their break on the 50th minute when Rich Lane sliced through the static Ulster defence to score in the corner, Hooley’s well struck conversion extending their lead to 16 – 10.

To their credit, the Ulster youngsters pushed hard for a response in the final stages but Curtis’ effort  was the closest they came as the Bedford defence scrapped for the win.

Final score: Bedford Blues 16 Ulster A 10. 

Bedford now make the short trip to Ealing Trailfinders for the semi final.

Photo credit – Ian Whiting and Cliff Harvey.