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Blues & Lightning: Loughborough snatch late win at Gloucester

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… 

Lark swoops to snatch victory for Lightning 

Loughborough Lightning picked up their second win of the season in the Allianz Premier 15s, as a late try from England hooker Lark Davies edged a thriller 33-31 against Gloucester-Hartpury. 

It allowed Lightning to bounce back from being narrowly beaten at Exeter Chiefs last week and it also lifted them up to seventh in the table, just as it looked as though they had let it slip at the ALPAS Arena.

It was Loughborough who went ahead after seven minutes when Helena Rowland capitalised on a break from Georgie Lingham, with the fly-half converting her own try. 

The lead didn’t last long, however, when Emma Sing’s run led to Connie Powell going over for Gloucester, with Sing’s conversion levelling things up at 7-7. 

Lightning went on to take control for the remainder of the half, going ahead again when Rowland’s long pass set up Fran Goldthorp to score. 

Rowland was the creator again for their third try, as her cross-field kick was collected by Lingham and the bonus point was in the bag right on half-time when Davies crashed over off a driving maul. 

With Rowland accurate with the boot, Loughborough led 28-7 at the break, but Gloucester came storming back in the second half. 

They pulled their first score back after 52 minutes when Rachel Lund forced her way over and the gap was down to 11 points on the hour mark thanks to Bethan Lewis’ try. 

Lightning were conceding a succession of penalties at this point and their task was made harder by a yellow card for lock Emma Wassell. 

The last 10 minutes could not have been more dramatic, with Ellie Underwood bringing the score to 28-24 with an unconverted try in the corner. 

After Sadia Kabeya became the second Loughborough player to be sin-binned, the hosts completed the turnaround with six minutes left through Sisilia Tuipulotu. 

However, despite being a player light, Loughborough still managed to pick themselves up and snatched the lead again in the 77th minute, with Davies again being driven over. 

Lightning are back on home soil on Saturday, when they welcome Sale Sharks to Epinal Way, looking to make it back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

Tupai try in vain for Bedford against Midlands rivals 

There was disappointment, though, for Bedford Blues in the Championship, as they went down to a narrow 15-14 defeat to Coventry, following an error-strewn display at the Butts Park Arena. 

There were three players from Northampton Saints in Bedford’s squad, with Ethan Grayson starting at inside centre and Connor Tupai and Ed Prowse among the replacements. 

Bedford were left frustrated after missing far too many opportunities during the course of the game, although they started well by taking the lead after ten minutes. 

After a driving maul from an attacking line-out was halted, hooker Jack Hughes broke away to dot down, with former Cov man Will Maisey adding the conversion. 

The Blues weren’t able to truly make the most of their early dominance and Coventry hit back when Josh Barton went over, following Jordon Poole’s midfield break, for an unconverted try. 

Bedford indiscipline led to them losing No.8 Oli Stedman to the sin bin just before half-time, although the numbers were evened by Adam Peters’ yellow. 

Tony Fenner’s simple penalty put the hosts 8-7 in front three minutes after the restart before they took control through a converted score for on-loan Dragons centre Tom Griffiths. 

Bedford looked to have a route back into the game when a pair of deliberate knock-ons, within a minute of each other, by Louis James and Joe Snow left Coventry down to 13 men. 

Bedford failed to make the most of this period, although they soon had a man advantage again when Griffiths was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle. 

Time was running out by this point, however, and they had to make do with a losing bonus point, secured by scrum-half Tupai racing in at the corner. 

The Blues will be keen to bounce back from losing to their Midlands rivals when they welcome bottom side London Scottish to Goldington Road at the weekend. 

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