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 best of the latest action...
Blues rounded off their Championship season last weekend as they welcomed Ampthill, scoring five tries to come out eventual 32-28 winners and claim the Bedfordshire bragging rights in the season finale at Goldington Road.
The home side wasted no time getting off the mark when Saints winger Josh Gillespie scooped up a clumsy clearance to dart over the whitewash; Bedford would add to their tally through James Lennon, Elijah Niko and Matt Worley to secure the try bonus point before the break, but Ampthill responded and would push ahead ten minutes into the second half with four scores of their own.
Spurred on by over 1,000 home supporters, Bedford kept pushing and eventually sent Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas over the whitewash to finish off their season with a brilliant win.
With five Saints in tow as they took to the field for the final time in 2020/21, Bedford were boosted by hooker Jack Hughes and No.8 Tui Uru in the pack, while speedster Gillespie manned a wing at Goldington Road and prop Ed Prowse and centre Ethan Grayson began the game on Blues’ bench.
Blues struck early as a clumsy Ampthill clearance left space for man-of-the-match Gillespie to gather the ball and race in for his second in as many games. Will Maisey added the extras from the tee and while Ampthill hit back straight away with a score of their own, Maisey pulled the home side back ahead with another three points from his boot.
And Bedford would extend their lead further as Worley set Lennon free to snipe over before the 20-minute mark. Ampthill once again reduced the arrears but both teams would find themselves down to 14 men shortly after as Ampthill’s Charlie Beckett was shown a yellow card and Bedford’s Oli Curry a red after an altercation at a breakdown.
But Bedford were not deterred and a beautiful offload from Gillespie quickly sent Niko over the tryline in what would later be awarded Championship Try of the Week, before scoring their bonus-point try just moments later as Worley crossed for their fourth – with Maisey’s conversion making it 27-14 at half-time.
The home side went down to 13 on the hour-mark though as Bedford skipper Sean McCarthy was shown a yellow card and Ampthill used their advantage to pull back in front, but a second yellow card to Ampthill levelled the playing field again and Blues wasted no time getting over the whitewash, sending Hirskyj-Douglas over to close their season with a win.
What they said...
Man of the Match, Josh Gillespie, said: “It was actually bit surreal being in front of a home crowd again for the first time back. We just wanted to put a performance on for everyone so we're glad we could get the win for everybody.
“I was glad to get another score but it’s all down to the hard work of everyone in the team – everyone dug together and fought through.
“Everyone likes playing here at Bedford because we play quite a sexy brand of rugby, but today was about grafting and grinding the win out, especially when we went down to 13 men. The boys just kept in it and kept digging in and eventually we got the win.
“We managed to keep the momentum with us quite well, and then to have the fans there cheering us on was brilliant. We just wanted to put a good performance on for them because we’ve not seen them in so long, it’s been well over a year since we saw them last.
“It felt class to have them back, it was really rowdy and we always enjoy hearing a bit of chat from them on the pitch.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Bedford this year, obviously we’ll have to see but I’d be more than happy to come back and play some more games here next season.”