Bedford Blues v Cornish Pirates

Friday, 20 March, 2015 - 19:45
1st XV Championship
Lost 21-31

Bedford Blues suffered a Cornish Pirates plundering as the West Countrymen took a 21-31 bonus point win from their visit to Goldington Road on Friday evening.

Despite scoring three very well worked tries of their own, the Blues were always playing catch-up after the visitors scored twice in the opening eight minutes before crossing the whitewash just before the break and two minutes from full-time.

Bedford remain ninth in the table, but with Doncaster Knights closing the gap with a draw against London Scottish, and Moseley and Plymouth Albion still to play this weekend, the Blues know they now have four huge fixtures remaining this season.

A fantastic 2633 people turned out for this Friday Night Lights encounter which also included the inaugural Bedford Blues Beer Festival, but the home side were on the back foot from the kick off when the ball slipped through the receivers hands and into touch giving the Pirates an attacking platform but they knocked on close to the Blues try line.

The scrum that followed saw the Blues shoved off the ball and the Pirates looked to capitalise. A maul formed and four backs joined in the effort with scrum half Tom Kessell diving over the line to clinch the opening score with Laurence May converting.

Bedford got the game back underway but again the Pirates were making good ground and maintaining possession which they soon turned into further points. Rheon James made a superb break in the centre of the field, drew the defence and then offloaded to May who quickly passed the ball on to the supporting Matt Evans who galloped over in the left corner to score. May added an excellent conversion and the visitors were 14-0 up.

May was determined to add further points, so when a penalty went to the Pirates in the 11th minute he immediately pointed at the posts but the Blues earned a reprieve when his effort sliced wide.

Bedford made some ground through a well struck Baden Kerr penalty but with an attacking lineout in place, the put in was too strong and the Blues knocked on as they tried to recover. A dominant Pirates scrum saw the visitors try and work a move down the left but Pat Tapley made a superb tackle and Nick Fenton-Wells was on hand to assist at the ruck before the penalty went Bedford’s way. Kerr sent the ball to touch five metres out and Bedford ensured that the same mistake didn’t happen again as Ben Gulliver took in the lineout ball. With Paul Tupai driving the maul forwards, the Pirates brought it down and referee Tim Wigglesworth ran under the posts to award the penalty try which Kerr converted to make it 7-14 in the 17th minute.

Two minutes later and May was able to inch the visitors further ahead when a penalty went the Pirates way in front of the uprights. As the game restarted, Henry Staff made a superb tackle to carry the receiver into touch and the Blues had a lineout in the Pirates 22. Sadly, the ref spotted an infringement after the lineout was collected and the visitors were able to clear to touch.

The Pirates worked their way upfield again and won another lineout deep in the Blues 22.  A try looked inevitable but in one of very few mistakes from the visitors so close to the Blues try line, crossing took place right in front of the referee and a penalty went Bedford’s way and they cleared.

Mike Le Bourgeois and Tapley were looking for ways to break through the Pirates defence and the latter went on a dazzling run in which he worked his way around three defenders but as his offload to the supporting Staff fell millimetres short and the Pirates were able to recover the ball and hoof it clear.

As the clock ticked down towards half time, the Blues were on one final push to close the gap before the interval. An overthrown Pirates lineout was collected by TJ Harris and Bedford were going through the phases and inching towards the visitors 22. As the backs took over, Kerr looked to find Viliami Hakalo with a pass, but Craig Holland read it perfectly, plucked the ball out of the air and turned on the gas to run up the other end of the field to score under the posts and May once again converted to make it 7-24 at halftime.

Bedford knew that they needed to get on the scoreboard quickly and the electric pace of Tapley had the Blues faithful hoping in the early stages but the ball was coughed up moments later and the Pirates hammered it back upfield and into touch in the Blues 22. Mike Howard, who had taken a knock in the first half, left the field to be replaced by Harry Wells who slotted straight into the second row.

The Blues were soon on the attack once again and a kick over the top had the Pirates chasing back into their 22. Bedford were right behind though, and put pressure on the last defender who wasn’t going to let go of the ball. Mr Wigglesworth had his arm out for a Blues penalty, but Bedford wanted more and after ripping the ball away, it went along the back line to Hakalo who sold a dummy and trotted over the line for the score which was brilliantly converted from the left wing by Kerr.

Changes followed with Luke Baldwin and Jake Sharp replacing Darryl Veenendaal and Kerr while Tom Williams and James Currie came on in the front row for Billy Moss and Phil Boulton. The new partnerships sparked a variation into the attack but Bedford were guilty of giving away penalties and allowing the Pirates to relieve the pressure and have another shot at the sticks, although May’s effort flew wide again in the 56th minute.

The introduction of Charlie Clare and Joe Vandermolen strengthened the Blues scrum and provided further attacking options as the game entered the final quarter.

Bedford - and particularly Pat Tapley - got their reward in the 69th minute with a superb try. Steffan Jones showed tremendous speed and footing to plough upfield and into the Pirates 22 before he sweetly offloaded to Tapley who cut a great line to score beside the post with Sharp adding the extras to make it 21-24.

Goldington Road had found it’s voice once again and a grandstand finale looked on the cards.

The Pirates brought on Kieran Hallett and he immediately looked to pin Bedford back as much as possible with an array of smart kicks. A penalty went to the Pirates after a maul on halfway was brought down and the ball went to touch in the Blues 22. The Pirates set up a maul and slowly edged forward before the ball came to Hallett whose attempted a drop goal went wide, but it didn’t matter as an advantage was being played.
Touch was found and the lineout taken in by the Pirates before Kessell broke from the back and played a smart pass to the supporting Holland who dotted down for his second of the night and Pirates fourth which Hallett converted.

Bedford had one minute to try and grab a losing bonus point, or possibly two with a fourth try, but the Pirates coolly took in the restart, played a couple of pick-and-go drives before Kessell dinked the ball into touch to give the visitors their first win at Goldington Road in four years.

The Blues now have four cup finals remaining in the Greene King IPA Championship starting  with the first next weekend away at Bristol followed by a home encounter with Moseley on 11th April. Bedford then travel to Doncaster Knights on 18th April before finishing the season by hosting Nottingham on 25th April.


More of Nigel Rudgard's match day pictures are available here

Next Home Match

Saturday 27th October
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road



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