With several of Northampton’s hottest prospects either on-loan or dual-registered this season with Saints’ partner club, Bedford Blues, we round up the latest action...
Taking to home turf at Goldington Road for the first time this season with no fewer than 11 Saints in tow, Bedford claimed their first win of the Championship campaign as they posted a 33-25 victory over Hartpury last Friday night.
Tries from Rich Lane, Joe Atkinson and Northampton’s James Fish gave Blues a foothold on the game, and though a spirited second half fightback from Hartpury pushed the home side close, Bedford held on to secure their first league win.
🗣 | “We showed a lot of character at the end just to control the last 5️⃣ minutes which was what mattered.”— Bedford Blues (@BedfordBluesRFC) March 13, 2021
🎣 James Fish tells @WillRobrtsRugby about the resilience within the squad to see off @HartpuryRFC at GR 🏟 #BluesFamily #differentshadeofblue pic.twitter.com/mxCmgQx6xv
Bedford’s pack was bolstered by several Saints faces including Ed Prowse, Lewis Bean, Ollie Newman and try-scorer Fish all starting the clash with Hartpury; Reuben Bird-Tulloch retained his place at centre and Josh Gillespie came onto the wing for Blues, while Manny Iyogun, Jack Hughes, Tommy Mathews and Ryan Olowofela all entered the game from the bench.
A slow start to the action saw Bedford’s Will Maisey exchange penalties with his Hartpury counterpart before the home side’s normal free-flowing game came to the fore; an initial charge from James Lennon got Blues moving before patient phase play saw Lane over in the corner.
Maisey added another three after Hartpury closed the gap to make it 13-6 but the away side hit back with a swift score from the following kick-off, scooping up a loose ball to score a converted try through Ben Foley.
Bedford got back on the scoreboard just before the break though as Atkinson broke free and sprinted clear for Blues’ second. And Maisey added another three from the tee after the restart before Saints hooker Fish went barrelling over for his maiden Bedford score.
And though Blues went in search of their bonus point score, Hartpury had other ideas and sent a driving maul over the whitewash with replacement hooker Nick Selway getting on the end of it.
But Bedford held firm in the game’s dying minutes, and Maisey added another three points to Bedford’s tally to seal the side’s first win of the season.
What they said...
“I thought we showed a lot more control,” said Saints centre Reuben Bird-Tulloch after the final whistle.
“The last two games were quite scrappy and we didn’t really have that structure we wanted. But today we just built on our platforms and when we had the chance to go wide, we took those opportunities really well. We were much happier with the overall performance.
“I'm loving it here so far, it's a really good atmosphere. There's obviously quite a few of us Saints boys that have come over but the whole groups gelled really well, we feel like one team now which is really good. Hopefully this is the start of a run of wins and we can build some momentum going forwards.”
And try-scorer Fish echoed Bird Tulloch’s sentiments; “It was a good run out. We improved a lot on last week and could throw the ball around a bit and show our shape which is what we wanted to do. It got a bit close at the end but we showed some good character to control those last five minutes which is what mattered.”
But with the long journey to Cornish Pirates awaiting Blues next weekend, the on-loan Saints hooker knows all about the challenges the side will face in Cornwall.
“I’ve played down there – I was on loan there for a couple months a few years ago – it’s not an easy place to go and play, they’ve got a big pack, some good ball carriers.
“But if we can take our defence and our attacking shape from today, get our maul defence right, scrum right, then I think we’ll be good.”