The Dillingham Park visitors held on for a narrow 36-33 win thanks to six tries. But Mark Lavery’s men almost produced an inspired comeback with second-half scores from Alex Humfrey, Craig Duncan, and Harvey Beaton
It only took two minutes for the first try, with Dani Long-Martinez – one of 12 Northampton Saints players at Bedford on the partnership deal – finished a scything move.
The home side responded within seven minutes, Cory Lewis finishing a maul on his debut.
Bedford then broke against the run of play, Pat Tapley running through a gap after 17 minutes.
The half got worse for Ampthill when scrum-half Jonny Hall was sin-binned for a deliberate obstruction 13 minutes later.
He was joined a minute later by Austin Wallis – and Bedford No.8 Tui Uru found space for a 7-21 lead at the break.
But the game was marred by a clash which saw Curry get a red card for throwing a punch.
Mike Rayer put out a whole new 14 in the second half, with centres Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas and 18-year-old Ethan Grayson dotting down in the first four minutes.
There was also misery for Wasps loanee Cameron Anderson, forced off on a stretcher – two weeks ahead of Ampthill’s new season.
With the home side back to 15, their one-man advantage started to show after the hour as debut flanker Humfrey finished two mauls five minutes apart. While Grayson added to his tally with eight minutes to go, 19-year-old Sam Bryan’s quick-thinking saw Duncan get the ball over.
Saracens loanee Beaton finished off a stunning Ampthill mover or a three-point game – but it was the last move of the game at Dillingham Park.
Mark Lavery said: “When we were tight, we looked ok. When we were loose, we were loose as a goose! A whole heap of debuts, so we expected to be inaccurate. We didn’t play to our patterns in the first but when we did in the second, it made it more challenging.”
Mike Rayer lamented a red card for flanker Ollie Curry following a brawl in Bedford Blues’ win. Rayer said: “It was a silly sending off, so not how we wanted it to go. “It’s not ideal for a pre-season game but there was lots of other good stuff. We integrated lots of new players. Ampthill came out strongly in the second half and we were hanging on at the end!”
Tries: Lewis 2, Humfrey 62, 67, Duncan 74, Beaton 79
Cons: Grimoldby 3, 63, 75, 80
Team (15-9/1-8): Coulson; Foster (Benjamin 54), Duncan, Streets (Anderson 5, Streets 58), Stileman (Arthur 32); Grimoldby ©, Law (Bryan 32); Flynn (Pleasants 62), Lewis (Ward 55), Collins (Beaton 55); Burgess, Cattell (Frost 27); Humfrey, Wallis, Obano (Onojaife D 55)
Tries: Long-Martinez 2, Tapley 17, Uru 33, Hirskyj-Douglas 41, Grayson 44, 72
Cons: Matthews 3, 18, 34
Team (15-9/1-8): Lane (Olowofela 40); Tapley (Robson 40), Niko (Grayson 40), Bird-Tulloch (Hirskyj-Douglas 40, Litchfield 69), Long-Martinez (Worley 40); Matthews (Maisey 40), Tupai; (Lennon 40, Fenle 65); McCarthy (Wrafter 40), Hughes (Fields 40), Paul (Barrett 32, Prowse 64); Onojaife J, Bean (Carrick Smith 40); Curry (Tonks 40), Atkinson (Newman 40), Uru (Robinson 40)
Penalties conceded: 11-10
Line outs won: 8-6
Line outs lost: 6-4
Scrums won: 3-4
Scrums lost: 0-0
Sin Bins: 2-0
Red Cards: 0-1
Referee: Neil Chilvers
Star Man: Alex Humfrey – Ampthill (Bed 1st half: Tui Uru / Bed 2nd half: Ethan Grayson)
Images: PRIME Media UK Limited