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Bedford Blues v Cornish Pirates
Bedford Blues produced a thoroughly professional performance to sink Cornish Pirates 32-6 at Goldington Road on Friday night.
Playing up the slope in the first half, Bedford took an early lead thanks to a Jake Sharp penalty
The fly-half looked to be in fine form with the boot and he kicked a further three penalties in the opening 40 minutes.
Pirates did have three penalties of their own, but they failed to convert any of them and went in at the break 12-0 behind.
The visitors responded at the start of the second period as Kieran Hallett scored two quick penalties, but Sharp continued to kick at regular intervals and tries from Neil Cochrane and Brendan Burke helped put the game beyond doubt.
Bedford made six changes to the side that beat Doncaster two weeks ago. Darren Fearn, Cochrane and Phil Boulton started in the front row, while Ben Gulliver, Sacha Harding and Luke Baldwin also returned to the Blues line-up.
The Blues made an energetic start to the match and were ahead just three minutes in as Sharp hammered home a penalty.
Bedford were enjoying the early possession and they won a second penalty 45 metres out. Sharp stepped up and struck the ball sweetly for another three points.
The Pirates did have a chance to reduce the deficit through an Aaron Penberthy penalty, but the fly-half’s kick was sent wide from distance.
Scrum-half Baldwin then went in search of the game’s first try as his quickly taken tap penalty sparked fear in the Pirates defence.
He raced up field, but the move broke down as the visitors recovered to clear their lines.
However, Bedford did extend their lead after the Pirates went it at the side of a maul, giving away a third penalty.
Sharp took it from 40 metres and the outcome was the same – another three points for the hosts.
The game had offered little in terms of try-scoring opportunities, but the visitors did have another chance of three points from a penalty only for Penberthy to pull his kick wide.
Mark Atkinson then saw yellow for playing the man as Phil Burgess chipped the ball over the Blues defence and looked to be heading for the line – only to be chopped down by the full-back.
After putting the resulting penalty to touch the Pirates thought they had grabbed a try from a lineout, however they were denied by some rugged Bedford defending.
Losing a man didn’t seem to have any effect on the Blues as they came close to crossing the whitewash.
An excellent maul gained them precious territory and Baldwin broke out the back of it, only to be denied just before the line.
The move wasn’t over though and ball was worked out wide to Josh Bassett who dived for the line.
The winger looked like he had done enough, however referee Greg McDonald had other ideas and deemed that the ball had been held up in the try area.
The resulting scrum then saw same outcome as this time Paul Tupai’s effort was held up and the Blues were again denied.
Nevertheless, Bedford continued to impose themselves and were rewarded as they won another penalty. Sharp, who was looking good with the boot, was again successful as he moved his side further in front.
With half time now approaching it was the Pirates who won the game’s next penalty but, with Grant Pointer was now on kicking duty, it made no difference as his effort went wide.
That proved to be the final action of the first period as the referee blew up at least 20 seconds early with the Blues 12-0 in front.
The Pirates needed to start the second half strongly and they did just that when a good drive up field earned a penalty.
Hallett, on for Penberthy, took it and made no mistake to get his side’s first points
Former Blue, Hallett, was then given the chance of another penalty after Bassett didn’t release in the tackle.
The fly-half confidently took it, sending it through the posts and the visitors were now back in the contest.
Bedford needed to reassert themselves and Burke’s kick over the Pirates backline won the hosts a lineout deep in the opposition half.
The Blues forwards then stepped into action, driving for the line, and their hard work paid off as they won a penalty.
Sharp took it and for the first time in the match he misplaced his kick as he sent it wide.
However, it didn’t prove too costly as Bedford scored the game’s first try minutes later.
A lineout was won by the Blues 22 metres out, and the forwards, who had been in imperious form all evening, plus a number of backs drove towards to line.
Hooker Cochrane emerged from a sea of steaming bodies to claim it and Sharp converted as the home extended their lead.
Bedford’s tails were up and Mark Kohler broke free of the Pirates defence before working the ball to Sharp who dinked it over the oncoming defenders. Bassett tried to latch on to it, but the chance went begging.
Nevertheless, the Blues did further their advantage as Sharp converted his fifth penalty of the match.
And they didn’t have to wait long for another Sharp penalty after the Pirates were penalised for an obstruction.
Bedford were now cruising and there was just enough time on the clock for Burke to snatch a late try as he gathered Sharp’s chip to dive over the line.
Sharp converted with the last kick of the game, giving the Blues a comfortable win against the Cornish side.
Blues: Darren Fearn (Ricky Reeves 47), Neil Cochrane (Scott Spurling 76), Phil Boulton (Dan Seal 63), Mike Howard, Ben Gulliver (Alex Rae 68), Gregor Gillanders, Sacha Harding (C), Paul Tupai (Darren Fox 62), Luke Baldwin (Darryl Veenendaal 62), Jake Sharp, Josh Bassett, Henry Staff (Ian Vass 73), Brendan Burke, Mark Kohler, Mark Atkinson. T: Cochrane, Burke. C: Sharp 2. P: Sharp 6.
Pirates: Paul Andrew (Ben Prescott 65), Rob Elloway (Jack Yeandle 72), Alan Paver (Paul Andrew 72), Darren Barry (David Lyons 68), Gary Johnson, Ben Maidment (Joe Buckle 68), Phil Burgess, Laurie McGlone, Gavin Cattle (C) (Tom Kessell 72), Aaron Penberthy (Keiron Hallett 40), Ben Mercer, Junior Fatialofa (Alex Cheeseman 68), Tom Riley, Grant Pointer, JJ Kilmartin. P: Hallett 2.
Referee: Greg McDonald.
Touch Judges: Michael Tutty and Simon McConnell.