Saints’ trip for their friendly with Bedford Blues in what would have been a rest week ended in a impressive 52-17 win over their hosts at a packed out Goldington Road.
Saints were first on the scoresheet, not long after kick off, through David Ribbans. Former Blue Charlie Clare held a trio of Bedford defenders and left space for Tom Kessell to set up Ribbans for the score. JJ Hanrahan added the extras.
Bedford worked their way into an attacking position with a series of penalties against Saints getting them territory. A maul to the line came close but Saints held and earned the put in at the scrum metres from their own line.
Tom Stephenson was nearly through on his return from injury just after but the defence held on by their fingertips and Saints soon found themselves defending at the scrum on halfway.
Again Bedford worked their way back into Saints’ 22 with a string of penalties and eventually opted to send one at the sticks. Jake Sharp sunk his kick to get the home side off the mark.
Snaking runs from James Wilson and Juan Pablo Estelles saw Saints back on the front foot and quick hands got them close. A backdoor pass from James Craig set Lewis Ludlam up to slink through for Saints second.
Bedford worked back into Saints’ 22 and sent a maul over the whitewash but they were held up though referee Simon Harding brought the game back for a penalty to the home side as Saints had infringed in the build up. Bedford opted for the scrum and Tom James slipped through Saints line off the back of it to score Bedford’s first.
Saints piled back on the pressure though and sent a maul of their own towards Bedrord’s tryline moments later. Api Ratuniyarawa and Ribbans broke off and marched towards the line with Ribbans dotting down for his second. The wind kept Hanrahan’s conversion out but Saints managed to extend their lead as the game entered half time.
Bedford were first off the mark in the second 40, Piers O’Conor breaking through on halfway and setting up Pat Tapley for the home side’s second score. Sharp added the extras to bring it within two.
But then the floodgates seemed to open and Saints began to build phases in Bedford’s 22 again. Eventually the men in black, green and gold earned a penalty which Hanrahan duly sent to the corner. Saints’ maul from that went over the line and Ribbans was awarded the score for his hattrick, Hanrahan converted before leaving the field.
Bedford made their way into Saints’ half but a turn over saw the away side back in attack and a lovely chip through from Olver, which he collected himself, left space for Ludlam to dive over for his second of the night and Saints sixth.
Two more tries came quickly for Saints with Ratuniyarawa instrumental in both. Two impressive runs from the Fijian saw first Juan Pablo Estelles, then James Grayson, over the whitewash.
A huge effort from Bedford got them with Saints’ 22 after their winger Dean Adamson dashed up the right and while Saints turned over there, the home side kept pushing but it was not to come off for them and Saints came away with the win.
BEDFORD Packman; Tapley, O’Conor, Le Bourgeois, Adamson, Sharp, James; Parilli-Ocampo, Fields, Judge, Howard, Onojaife, Taylor, Buggea, Hill
Subs – Robinson, Hallam, Cooper, Hodge, Tupai, Adams, Burns, Lweis, Dodge, Clements-Hill
SAINTS Wilson, Estelles, Burrell, Stephenson, Collins, Hanrahan, Kessell; Waller, Clare, Ilnicki, Ribbans, Craig, Nutley, Ludlam, Dickinson
Subs – Fish, Ma’afu, Marshall, Denman, Ratuniyarawa, Moon, Allman, Dickson, Olver, Hutchinson, Furbank, Grayson
8min SAINTS Try Ribbans Con Hanrahan 0-7
23mins BEDFORD Pen Sharp 3-7
25mins SAINTS Try Ludlam Con Hanrahan 3-14
36mins BEDFORD Try James Con Sharp 10-14
42mins SAINTS Try Ribbans 10-19
HALF TIME Bedford 10 Saints 19
43mins BEDFORD Try Tapley Con Sharp 17-19
52mins SAINTS Try Ribbans Con Harahan 17-24
56mins SAINTS Try Ludlam Con Olver 17-33
60mins SAINTS Try Fish Con Ovler 17-40
67mins SAINTS Try Estelles Con Olver 17-47
69mins SAINTS Try Grayson 17-52
FULL TIME Bedford 17 Saints 52