ULSTER RAVENS 29 BEDFORD BLUES 3, Ravenhill
Scorers: Ulster Ravens: Tries: Tommy Seymour, Declan Fitzpatrick, Chris Cochrane, Andy Kyriacou; Cons: Niall O'Connor 3; Pen: Niall O'Connor
Bedford Blues: Pen: Brad Davies
The Ulster Ravens put in a powerful first half display, running in four unanswered tries to virtually close out their first British & Irish Cup tie by half-time.
Ulster, coached by Neil Doak, quickly settled, with out-half Niall O'Connor putting an inch perfect second minute kick into the left corner to set up a great attacking position.
The Ravens pack made their presence felt with David Pollock, Willie Faloon and Declan Fitzpatrick driving play forward, creating a solid platform for scrum half Paul Marshall to move quick ball wide.
The opening score came in the sixth minute. Number 8 Tamaiti Horua picked up from the base of a scrum on the Bedford 22, and flicked a neat pass to Marshall who was standing on the blindside.
Marshall drifted off his marker and put in a neat grubber kick for Tommy Seymour to chase, with the Ravens winger doing well to nip in ahead of former Leinster player Brendan Burke and get the touchdown in the right corner.
O'Connor added the extras from the touchline to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead, which they almost built on when lock Dan Tuohy was held up over the visitors' try-line.
From the resulting five-metre scrum, Marshall darted down the blindside and slipped a neat inside pass to prop Fitzpatrick who charged over from close range for a well-worked try. O'Connor successfully knocked over the conversion.
Bedford found the opening quarter difficult, their first real attack came in the 20th minute when new signing Chris Brightwell made a great break through the Ravens midfield.
The English side showed plenty of pace as their support runners poured through to assist Brightwell's solo run, putting the Ravens under pressure for the first time in the match.
As the home side struggled to defend, Pollock was pinged for coming into the ruck from the side in the 24th minute, giving Bedford out-half Brad Davies an easy penalty opportunity to put points on the board, which he duly did.
From the restart though, it was one way traffic. Ulster continued to dominate up front, supplying quality ball for the backs to use.
In the 27th minute the Ravens attacked again, Marshall firing the ball wide and releasing the back-line to move play left. The ball soon arrived in Chris Cochrane's hands and the young winger was able to race over in the Memorial corner for a five-pointer.
The fourth Ravens try came seven minutes before half-time when a pick up and drive from a scrum close to the Bedford posts was driven over by hooker Andy Kyriacou. O'Connor converted to take the Ravens into a comfortable lead.
The final points of the first half came from O'Connor's boot when he converted a penalty with the final play, leaving the home side to turn around 29-3 in front.
The second period was a bit of a disappointment from the Ravens' point of view. They seemed to switch off and let the Blues come back into the game.
To the visitors' credit, they started to dictate play. Myles Dorrian, who had moved from the centre to play out-half, began to pick up the pace, bringing his loose forwards Gregor Gillanders and Chris Brightwell more into play.
Despite several close attempts from both sides, the only clear-cut scoring chance in the second half fell to the visitors.
In the 63rd minute, the Blues had pushed the Ravens deep into the home 22 where they switched play swiftly to the left.
The ball eventually found the hands of replacement winger Liam Roberts who almost made it over in the right corner. But referee Llyr Apgeraint Roberts blew for a double movement after Roberts thought he had scored.
The game drifted into a scrappy affair during the final 10 minutes as both sides used the opportunity to bring on replacements.
Despite good runs from Blues full-back Burke and Ravens winger Seymour, no further points were added to the score and Ulster were left to celebrate a positive start to this new cross border competition.
ULSTER RAVENS: Clinton Schifcofske; Tommy Seymour, Jonny Shiels, Ian Whitten (capt), Chris Cochrane; Niall O'Connor, Paul Marshall; Bryan Young, Andy Kyriacou, Declan Fitzpatrick, Dan Tuohy, Neil McComb, David Pollock, Willie Faloon, Tamaiti Horua.
Replacements used: Nigel Brady for Kyriacou, Ed O'Donoghue for Pollock (both 52 mins), Cillian Willis for Marshall, Jamie Smith for Cochrane (both 63), Paddy McAllister for Young (65), Ian Humphreys for Schifcofske (67), Young for Fitzpatrick (76). Not used: Chris Henry.
BEDFORD BLUES: Brendan Burke; Ollie Dodge, James Knight, Myles Dorrian, Ian Davey; Brad Davies, Ian Vass (capt); Alex Brown, Chris Locke, Dan Seal, Mike Howard, John Harlock, Gregor Gillanders, Chris Brightwell, Chris Goodman.
Replacements used: Liam Roberts for Dodge (half-time), Phil Boulton for Brown (50 mins), Duncan Taylor for Davies (53), Alex Rae for Howard (69), Will Chudley for Dorrian, Ben Lewitt for Goodman (both 75). Not used: Dan Richmond.
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint Roberts (England)