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Blues and Lightning: Loughborough stars light up the Gardens with England

We round up all the action from Northampton Saints’ partner club, Bedford Blues, and our joint Saints / Loughborough Lightning side in the Championship and Premier 15s competitions… 

Lightning talent on fire at the Gardens in Red Roses triumph

Three Loughborough Lightning stars helped the Red Roses run up a record victory over the Black Ferns for the second week running, this time in front of an ecstatic Northampton crowd at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

Helena Rowland started the match at inside centre, while Sarah Hunter and Lark Davies were among the replacements, as England bettered the previous week’s 43-12 win. 

Hooker Davies was introduced after 55 minutes, replacing hat-trick hero Amy Cockayne, and managed to get on the scoreboard herself off the back of a rolling maul. Red Roses captain Hunter entered the action with an hour played, replacing Marlie Packer in the back row. 

The Red Roses scored eight tries in total during a dominant performance that put down another marker ahead of next year’s World Cup, which will take place in New Zealand. 

Ellie Kildunne, Leanne Infante and Abby Dow also crossed the whitewash, while a penalty try was awarded for a deliberate knock-on by Kendra Cocksedge. 

New Zealand found themselves 28-0 down at half-time and, although, they did score tries through Portia Woodman (2) and Stacey Fluhler in the second half, this was a day remembered for a rampant England performance. 

Loughborough edged out by Saracens 

Elsewhere, Loughborough Lightning fell to a 22-12 defeat in the Allianz Cup, but were able to hold their heads high after a battling performance against last season’s Premier 15s runners-up, Saracens. 

Lightning were the stronger side in the first half at Epinal Way and went ahead after nine minutes as their pack rumbled over the line, following a driving maul. The lead was opened up to 12-0 at half-time as Fran Goldthorp weaved her way over the try line to put the hosts in a great position to pull off an upset victory. 

Saracens were a different beast in the second half, however, and they were back in business thanks to Jodie Mallard’s charge from 20 metres out four minutes after the restart. 

The gap was down to just two points five minutes later, following a second unconverted try, and the visitors completed the turnaround after 66 minutes when May Campbell scored after a quickly-taken penalty. 

The match was settled in favour of Sarries with 10 minutes left, as veteran Rocky Clark forced her way over, with Ellie Lennon adding the conversion. 

Garside scores on Blues debut but Bedford beaten

Following their thumping win at Hartpury the previous week, Bedford Blues were brought back down to earth with a bump by Championship leaders Ealing Trailfinders at Goldington Road. 

Three Saints were in the Blues’ matchday squad, with Ethan Grayson and Reece Marshall both in their starting line-up and Jake Garside ready to make his first appearance off the bench. 

The size of Bedford’s task was quickly made clear, as Ealing scored two tries in the first five minutes through Matt Gordon and David Johnston, with both scores converted by Steven Shingler. 

The Blues tried to hit back, only to be repelled by some strong defence, and the visitors made them pay with Simon Uzokwe twice powering over to seal a bonus point. Gordon then grabbed his second before a dominant first half for the Trailfinders was rounded off by Shaun Malton grounding the ball off a driving maul to open up a 38-0 half-time lead. 

It looked ominous for Bedford against a side who had hit three figures against London Scottish last time out, but they produced a gutsy second-half display against formidable opponents. 

They had the first try after the restart when winger Dean Adamson rounded off a flowing move, while both he and Grayson had scores ruled out during what was a better spell for the hosts. 

Ealing struck again just after the hour mark, however, as captain Rayn Smid scored out wide before Charlie Walker went down the right wing.

But teenage debutant Garside gave Bedford the final say with four minutes left, with a fine finish from 30 metres, rounding off a move that involved former Saints Jordan Onojaife and Jamie Elliott. 

The Blues will have a week off to regroup before their campaign resumes with another tough match, against Cornish Pirates at Mennaye Field on Saturday 20 November. 

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