Bedford Blues v Leeds Carnegie
Bedford Blues tasted defeat for the third time in as many weeks as they went down 28-29 at home to Leeds.
The game started positively for the hosts, but it was Leeds who took the lead following their first spell of possession, winning a penalty that Alex Lozowski easily put through the posts to get the visitors off the mark.
Don Barrell led the reply for the Blues as they forced Leeds right back on to their own try-line and, after several attempts, Darren Fox forced his way over the line, although Michael Le Bourgeois couldn’t convert.
Lozowski’s 12th-minute penalty hit a post from a difficult angle before tempers flared between Paul Tupai and the opposing Leeds forwards.
However, that was soon forgotten when Corey Hircock seized upon a dropped pass to Oli Goss. Hircock ran from halfway to cross the whitewash, but Le Bourgeois was again off target as the home side led 10-3.
Leeds though responded and got their first try through Peter Lucock with Lozowski adding the extras to level the scores at 10-10.
Just before the half-hour mark the Blues earned a penalty just inside the Leeds half, but the attempt by Le Bourgeois wasn’t at all good enough.
Canadian international James Pritchard, who replaced Brendan Burke on 26 minutes, then made an almost instant impact as he touched down for the Blues just six minutes after coming on. It was an excellent break from Atkinson along with the smartest of offloads which allowed the Canadian to cross, but to he couldn’t manage the conversion.
A controversial challenge by Calum Green on Scott Spurling was ignored by the referee as Leeds broke, and they were then awarded a penalty which Lozowski kicked with ease.
However, Bedford inched themselves further ahead before the break when Leeds knocked on and Pritchard guided his kick through the posts as the host led 18-13 at half time.
Leeds flew out of the blocks after the break with a try from Jonah Holmes who surged through the Blues defence and Lozowski again did the honours to make it 20-18.
Three minutes later Lozowski notched another penalty for the visitors but, after a successful scrum, the Blues responded as Tom Armes touched down.
Pritchard converted to give the home team a 25-23 lead, but it didn’t last long as Leeds were awarded another penalty shortly after which Lozowski was never going to miss.
The visitors then won yet another penalty just in the Blues half and Lozowski didn’t disappoint the away contingent as he converted to narrow stretch their lead to 29-25.
Lots of decision seemed to be going Leeds’ way, but Bedford were finally awarded a penalty with 11 minutes to go. Pritchard did the honours to give the Goldington Road faithful hope but, despite Bedford pushing in the dying minutes, they couldn’t break through Leeds’ defence as the game eventually fizzled out.
Blues: Nico Steenkamp (Ben Cooper, 18), Scott Spurling (Charlie Clare 66), Phil Boulton, Mike Howard (Ben Gulliver, 54), Paul Tupai, Don Barrell, (C), Joe Vandermolen (Tom Armes, 45), Luke Baldwin (Darryl Veenendaal, 65), Michael LeBourgeois (Jake Sharp), Neville Edwards, Ollie Dodge, Brendan Burke (James Pritchard, 26), Corey Hircock, Mark Atkinson.
T: Fox, Armes, Hircock, Pritchard. P: Pritchard 2. C: Pritchard.
Leeds: Ben Harris (Sam Lockwood, 61), Phil Nilsen (Peter Lucock, 61), Damien Tussac, Matthew Smith (James Doherty, 61) Calum Green, Jacob Rowan (C), James Doyle (Chris Walker 54), Ryan Burrows, Craig Hampson (Nathan Hannay, 61), Alex Lozowski, Oli Gloss, Fred Burdon (Joe Graham, 61), Josh Griffin, Jonah Holmes, Stevie McColl. Replacements: Jake Armstrong.
T: Lucock, Holmes. P: Lozowski 5. C: Lozowski 2.
Referee: Steve Lee.
Assistant Referees: Darren Gamage and Darryl Chapman.