Ulster A 17 Bedford Blues 22
Ulster A hopes of reaching the knock out stages of the British and Irish Cup are all but mathematically over after they suffered a narrow defeat to Bedford at Deramore.
Bedford outscored the hosts by four tries to two and the result means they open up a nine point gap between the teams in the pool.
That means Alex Codling’s side would need an extraordinary chain of results to make the last eight.
Bedford had to soak up some early pressure but it was the Blues who opened the scoring from their first visit to Ulster’s 22.
The visitors kicked a penalty to the corner and from the resulting lineout the forwards set up a powerful maul propelling tight head Paul Boulton over for a try but out half Jake Sharp couldn’t convert.
Sharp was off target again on 16 minutes when his penalty struck the upright.
Jacob Stockdale got Ulster back in the game with a try on 26 minutes.
From a lineout the home side worked the ball into midfield and Jonny McPhillips threw a long pass to Stockdale and he beat three defenders to score with McPhillips converting.
However the Ulster lead was short lived when four minutes later Bedford winger Dean Adamson flat footed five home defenders to score under the posts and Sharp converted.
Ulster trailed 12-10 at the break after McPhillips landed a penalty in the last minute of the first half.
Bedford nearly had the perfect start to the second half when they ran the ball deep into the Ulster 22 and winger Sam Blanchet lunged for the line but was forced into touch.
The Blues got their third try on 46 minutes, captain Nick Fenton-Wells went on a rampaging run through the Ulster midfield.
He passed inside to centre Tom Griffiths who went over unopposed but Sharp couldn’t convert.
McPhillips missed the chance to reduce the gap when he was off target with a penalty.
Ulster got their second try on 54 minutes, Rodger McBurney made a break down the left wing he passed inside to Sam Windsor to sprint over and McPhillips converted to level the score.
The visitors got their bonus point score with a minute left on the clock.
They kicked a penalty to touch, from the lineout the forwards worked the ball through a series of phases before moving the ball to the right wing for centre Henry Staff to squeeze over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Ulster:R McBurney, R Lyttle, M Best, S Windsor, J Stockdale, J McPhillips, D Shanahan;A Warwick, J Andrew, B Ross, J Donnan, P Browne, C Joyce, N Timoney, L Dow;
Replacements:J Murphy for Timoney 66 mins, R Murphy for Warwick 60 mins, J Simpson for Ross 60 mins, A Thompson for Bronwe 77 mins, C Young, P Rowley for McPhillips 75 mins, A Magrath for Best 77 mins
Bedford: S Jones, S Blanchet, H Staff, T Griffiths, D Adamson, Jake Sharp, J Burns T Williams, C Clare, P Boulton, H Wells, M Flanagan, J Blanchet, N Fenton-Wells, J Conlon
Replacements:S James for Clare 61 mins, C Parilli-Ocampo for Williams for 55 mins, P Tupai, B Alo for Boulton 61 mins, P White, M Dorrian, O Dodge
Ref D Jones (WRU)