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Blues & Lightning: Bedford and Loughborough beaten in first clashes of 2022

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… 

Blues come up short in Battle of Bedfordshire 

In what was their first match in the Championship since Boxing Day, Bedford Blues fell to a 20-10 defeat against local rivals Ampthill at Goldington Road. 

There were five players from Northampton Saints in Bedford’s squad, with Connor Tupai, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, JJ Tonks and Ollie Newman all in the starting line-up and Ed Prowse among the replacements. 

There was one other Saints youngster involved, with winger Josh Gillespie lining up for Ampthill. 

The Blues came into the Bedfordshire derby off the back of arguably their best result, and performance, of the season against Jersey Reds during the festive period – but they weren’t able to hit those heights this time. 

This was despite them taking the lead in only the third minute when hooker Jack Hughes, a former Saintsman, peeled off a driving maul to score for the fourth match in a row. 

The try went unconverted, and Ampthill soon levelled when Hughes’ opposite number, Jack Dickinson went over in near-identical fashion. 

The visitors then went in front as scrum-half Harri Morgan, an Ospreys loanee who was making his debut, dummied after picking up from the base of a scrum before darting over without anyone laying a hand on him. 

The conversion was once again missed and this allowed Bedford to square things up at 10-10 after 22 minutes, with Hughes once again getting the ball down and that is how the score remained at half-time. 

However, the Blues found themselves behind again six minutes after the restart when Russell Bennett sent over a penalty with what was the first successful kick of the afternoon. 

The hosts went on to have plenty of chances to hit back, with multiple incursions into Ampthill’s 22, but were ultimately wasteful and this would cost them even a losing bonus point. 

For the A’s made sure of victory, and bragging rights, with five minutes left when centre Ben Cambriani squeezed over, with replacement kicker Jack Bergin adding the conversion. 

The Blues will be keen to bounce back from a day in which they never really got going when they travel to Richmond on Saturday. 

Leaders Sarries too sharp for Lightning 

Loughborough Lightning’s three-match winning run in the Allianz Premier 15s came to an end with a 27-12 defeat against league leaders Saracens at Epinal Way. 

In what was also their first match since Christmas, Loughborough had to endure a tough opening, with Marlie Packer crashing over for Saracens after Zoe Harrison, who converted, had been tackled just short. 

The visitors extended their lead to 12-0 when Lotte Clapp broke clear down the wing before timing her pass for Poppy Cleall to score out wide. 

Lightning hit back in some style when Cleall’s clearance led to Helena Rowland spinning out of one tackle before she roasted Rachel Laqeretabua down the left for a brilliant individual try, which she converted herself. 

Sarries were able to reassert themselves and had their third try when Holly Aitchison pounced on a kick through, but there was still time for one more try in what was a busy first half. 

It came Loughborough’s way when Lark Davies was helped over by a driving maul, one that was interfered with by Cleall, which earned her a yellow card and left the hosts right back in the picture at 17-12 at half-time. 

The sin bin period came to nothing, though, and Saracens pulled themselves further clear with an hour gone when Harrison kicked a penalty. 

Loughborough tried to force their way back again, only to be met by some stubborn defence, before Cleall made the game safe for Sarries by barging her way over to score her second try. 

Lightning will have to wait a couple of weeks until they have a chance to get back to winning ways when they host bottom side DMP Durham Sharks. 

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