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Blues & Lightning: Knock-out hopes dashed for Bedford & Loughborough

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

Blues edged out by Pirates in quarter-final thriller 

Bedford Blues were knocked out of the Championship Cup by Cornish Pirates, who triumphed 33-32 after extra time in an absolute barnstormer of a second leg at Goldington Road. 

Trailing 38-37 after a similarly thrilling first leg, Blues were 27-26 ahead after 80 minutes to force an extra 20, but they ultimately went down 71-69 on aggregate thanks to Shae Tucker’s converted try. 

There were five players from Northampton Saints in Bedford’s squad, with George Hendy, Tom Litchfield, Joel Matavesi, Connor Tupai and Oisín Heffernan all in the starting line-up. 

It took six minutes for Blues to take the lead on aggregate through a Will Maisey penalty and the fly-half was on target with another kick to open up a 6-0 advantage on the day six minutes later. 

The match's topsy turvy theme was then set as Pirates hit back by scoring the game’s opening try after 22 minutes when a smart move off a line-out led to Carwyn Penny dotting the ball down, with Arwel Robson converting. 

The visitors were ahead for only two minutes, however, when Hendy made a searing break before playing a superb pass that sent former Saint Matt Worley sprinting clear. 

Five minutes later, the same combination struck, with Hendy once again assisting Worley. Maisey converted both tries for a 20-7 lead that lasted until half-time. 

Just like last week in Penzance, though, Pirates fought back strongly from behind and were back in business after 52 minutes when Tom Kessell, another who used to ply his trade at Saints, set up Nico De Battista to score. 

The visitors then hit the front in the tie again through Robson’s conversion of Syd Blackmore’s try, but Bedford swiftly responded again when replacement Oli Stedman crossed the whitewash. 

Maisey converted, but sent a penalty wide before, almost straight from the restart, Pirates levelled the tie with five minutes left when Tucker escaped the defence to go over. 

Robson’s missed conversion meant a remarkable match went to extra time and it swung the visitors’ way again seven minutes into the first period when Tucker grabbed his second, with Penny’s conversion proving to be crucial. 

Maisey then missed another penalty before Dean Adamson looked to have saved Blues with his 102nd try for the club with four minutes of extra time remaining when he went over in the corner. 

Unfortunately for Maisey, his woes continued as he missed the tricky conversion before he passed up a chance to win the tie for Bedford by sending a third penalty wide in the dying stages. 

Lightning’s top four hopes snuffed out 

In what was their first Allianz Premier 15s match after the end of the Women’s Six Nations, Loughborough Lightning’s hopes of qualifying for the play-offs were ended by a 34-24 defeat at Worcester Warriors. 

Emily Scarratt, who has missed so much of the season through injury, opened the scoring for Loughborough at Sixways with a penalty after 11 minutes, but Minori Yamamoto quickly levelled with a kick of her own. 

Lightning then scored the game’s first try after 19 minutes when captain Rachel Malcom struck off the back of a driving maul, with Scarratt adding the conversion. 

The match was soon level again as a move involving Vicky Laflin and Caity Mattinson led to Meg Varley going over for a score converted by Yamamoto. 

Loughborough then took control of the contest, with Scarratt slicing through the home defence to score a try she converted herself before her soft hands played a big part in Megan Gaffney rounding off a superb move. 

Scarratt converted again, but the lead was cut to 24-17 at half-time when prop Flo Long crashed over from close range after Worcester’s forwards went through the phases. 

The hosts went on to control the second half, first levelling the match when Caryn Thomas’ off-load fell kindly for Mattinson to score under the posts. 

Jade Shekells then had a try disallowed for the Warriors, who did eventually go ahead when hooker Carys Phillips was driven over the line following an attacking line-out. 

The hosts then went 10 points clear when Laura Keates struck off another driving maul, with Lightning unable to mount a comeback in the time that remained. 

Loughborough will round off their season with their second match at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday when they welcome champions Harlequins to the home of Northampton Saints. 

Tickets are on sale now, starting from just £7 (adult) / £3 (child)* – but Northampton Saints Season Ticket Holders can attend for FREE using their regular Season Ticket cards**, and will receive 50 bonus Saints Rewards points for attending the game.  

* All tickets are subject to a £1.50 booking fee.
**Seating for this match will be unreserved within the Carlsberg Stand (and if necessary, the cinch Stand). If you are a Season Ticket Holder, you will not necessarily be able to use your regular matchday seat.

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