Doncaster Knights secure ex-England ace

IN: Former Rotherham Titans scrum half Joe Bedford has signed for Doncaster Knights.
IN: Former Rotherham Titans scrum half Joe Bedford has signed for Doncaster Knights.

THE Knights have tied up a deal for former England Under 21 scrum half Joe Bedford ahead of the crunch relegation run in.

Director of rugby Clive Griffiths identified scrum half as a key position which needed strengthening as the Knights aim to climb off the foot of the Championship.

And he sounded out Bedford over a move to the club which led to his release from Newport Gwent Dragons.

Griffiths said: “He’s a man of experience and the nine is always a pivotal role.

“It’s certainly a position where we needed to strengthen anyway and we came to an arrangement with Joe when we found out he was available.

“He’s a well respected player and understands what is needed in this division.

“He’s a leader, a former captain and will bring valuable experience to us at a time when we need it most.

“He will go hand in hand with the good players we have already in the position, and with James Munro out with a fairly long term injury we need the cover.”

Bedford will be slowly integrated into the side having not played regularly in some time.

He looks set to play some part in the two upcoming British and Irish Cup games, starting at home to Nottingham next weekend.

Leeds-born Bedford has a reputation for a sharp pass and strong running.

The 28-year-old was at Castle Park to watch the Knights take on Newcastle Falcons on New Year’s Day.

Griffiths is hoping the scrum half is not the last new face added to his squad before the run in begins in earnest following the final two British and Irish Cup games over the next fortnight.

He said: “Obviously we need to strengthen in some areas.

“We’re thin on the ground in a number of positions and it only takes a couple of injuries then you’re in trouble.

“We were like that against Newcastle with illness and injury – Andy Symons came off his sickbed and played a good half of rugby which shows his commitment.”

The Knights fell to a 28-10 defeat to undefeated league leaders Newcastle on New Year’s Day at Castle Park.

Despite Doncaster being major underdogs in the clash, Griffiths was furious with the manner of the defeat.

He said: “It’s not excuse that we’re bottom and they’re top.

“You wouldn’t have said that at half time when it was 15-10 and we’d had two men in the sin bin.

“At that point you’re thinking we could win this.

“But then we just imploded with the kicking game.

“At times we defended really well and competed but we’re not here to compete, we’re here to win rugby matches.”

A superb try scored and converted by Jamie Lennard put the Knights in with a shout at the break, bringing them to just 15-10 behind.

But the game quickly fell out of their grasp in the second half and it took them until the final minute to break into the Newcastle 22 for the first time since half time.

Griffiths said: “There’s no questioning the commitment of the players but it’s game management and the skill level we portrayed. It cost us.

“We had chances early on to score some points and we didn’t take them.

“Our kicking game contrived to put us in horrible positions which a team like Newcastle are going to capitalise on.

“I’d say with the ball that’s the worst we’ve played since I’ve been here.

“I’m not happy with that.

“I’m happy with the doggedness, the determination and the extra defence we’ve been putting in but with our overall performance I was desperately disappointed.”