Bedford Blues v Cornish Pirates
Saturday 19th April, 2014. It will be one of those ‘where were you?’ questions for Bedford Blues fans (and a few Pirates ones) when we look back thinking – Do you remember when 39 and half year old Paul Tupai became the oldest Championship player to score a hat-trick?
Yes, you read that right. Toops – who turns 40 in September – racked up an impressive three tries in this exhilarating game which went one way and then the other with 14 tries being scored in total. Scores also came for Nick Auerac, Joe Vandermolen, Tony Fenner, Patrick Tapley and TJ Harris as the Blues reminded the 2365 inside Goldingotn Road that they still love to run the ball in a game of rugby.
The game started with the visitors running into a 12-0 lead after ten minutes thanks to early tries from Tom Hendrickson and Max Bodilly with winger Kyle Moyle converting once. Blues fans may have feared the worse after the first quarter but it soon became clear that they weren’t going to let everything go the Pirates way.
Tupai scored his opener in this entertaining fixture in the 27th minute as an impressive Blues pack attack the Cornishmen’s try line. Wiley old Toops spotted the gap and dived over from close range with James Pritchard adding the extras.
Five minutes later and Toops was over again. This time Mark Atkinson had split the Pirates defence apart before offloading smartly to the supporting backs. With Toops filling in for Atkinson he drove over with a defender desperately clinging to his boots. The referee and touch judge conferred before awarding the try and Pritchard again added the two points giving Bedford a 14-12 lead at the interval.
The visitors started brightly after the break with Number Eight Tom Duncan breaking form the back of the scrum to score an unconverted try to give the Pirates a 12-17 lead.
Bedford then ran in five unanswered tries. Auterac was the first to go over when he was played in by Pritchard to stroll under the posts with the Skipper converting. Goldington Road was then sent into raptures as Tupai found himself at the back of a driving maul with ball in hand to seal the hat-trick. He was then immediately replaced by Mike Howard and received the standing ovation that he fully deserved.
It was a mirror try in the 60th minute as Vandermolen went over from the back of the driving maul before Bedford grabbed their sixth of the afternoon when the ball came down the line to Corey Hircock who drew in the final defender before offloading to Fenner to open his account for the Blues. A seventh try followed two minutes later when a door was left wide open for Darryl Veenendaal who picked out Tapley and the crowd were celebrating when he was still 30 metres out. Four tries went unconverted but Bedford led 41-17.
Duncan scored his second of the afternoon for the Pirates following a smart steal by Joel Conlon with Moyle converting but then Harris found himself on the wing with plenty of space to score the Blues eighth which Jake Sharp converted.
There was still time for two more Pirates tries in the last two minutes. First, Luke Jones crossed for a converted effort when Pritchard found himself stranded in the 22 and then Hendrickson scored his second in stoppage time.
Final score was 48-36 and the Blues fans headed home happy.
For more matchday pictures visit http://frontrow.photium.com/