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Blues: Bedford trail Pirates by just one point in Championship Cup

We round up all the action from Northampton Saints’ partner club – Bedford Blues – in their latest match in the Championship Cup…  

Bedford Blues suffered an agonising 38-37 defeat in the first leg of their Championship Cup quarter-final against Cornish Pirates. 

Although they remain very much in the tie, Bedford were left to reflect on what might have been at the Mennaye Field after letting a 37-21 lead slip in the last 20 minutes of the game. 

Seven Saints were in the Blues’ matchday squad, with George Hendy, Ethan Grayson, Joel Matavesi and Oisin Heffernan in their starting line-up and Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Connor Tupai and Tom Litchfield among their replacements. 

After a Will Maisey penalty opened the scoring for Bedford, the Pirates went on to take control of the early stages, scoring the game’s first try through hooker Tom Channon, who was playing his final game before retirement. 

The hardy Blues supporters who made the trip for Penzance would have been forgiven for wondering if a long afternoon was in store after Tommy Wyatt sent Nico De Battista under the posts in the 18th minute. 

Harry Bazalgette converted both home tries for a 14-3 lead, but Bedford then hit back when former Saints lock Jordan Onojaife was helped over the line by his pack, with Maisey adding the extras. 

The Pirates extended their lead when Ruaridh Dawson’s off-load put Wyatt through, although the Blues closed the gap again when a brilliant first-phase move off a scrum involving Grayson and Matavesi led to Alex Day going over. 

The visitors then went ahead right on half-time when Bazalgette’s pass was picked off by Matt Worley, who had an easy run-in and also gave Maisey an easy conversion for a 24-21 lead at the break. 

It got even better six minutes after the restart when Joey Conway went through a gap created by the space caused by the break-up of a line-out, with Maisey converting again. 

The Bedford fly-half then kicked two penalties to put his side 16 points in front after 54 minutes, although they could not take further advantage of a yellow card to flanker Matt Bolwell for a no-arms tackle. 

The Pirates comeback then began on the hour mark when replacement hooker Syd Blackmore was bundled over, with Matavesi then producing a big tackle to deny Dawson. 

The gap was then reduced to six points by a converted try for Carwyn Penny, who was set up by tighthead prop Sam Rodman before Bedford hearts were broken in the final minute. 

A breakaway from a driving maul led to Josh Caulfield’s pass putting Bolwell over, with Arwel Robson’s conversion snatching victory. 

Bedford will hope to overturn their narrow deficit when they welcome the Pirates to Goldington Road for Saturday’s second leg – with tickets available now  from Bedford Blues.

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