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...
Despite a promising start, Bedford’s long trip to Cornwall ended in defeat to second-place Cornish Pirates last Sunday – with Blues’ discipline costing them as they came away from The Mennaye on the wrong end of the 27-12 result.
On the road with a nine-man Saints contingent, Bedford struck first with an impressive 60m intercept from Rich Lane. But that was their only score at the break, and with their hosts crossing the whitewash four times before the half-time whistle blew, Blues had it all to do after the interval.
The visitors did regroup, with supporter-voted away Man of the Match Reuben Bird-Tulloch combining with the bench to reignite Bedford in attack; but despite sending Jacob Fields over late on and limiting their hosts to just one score in the second half, the deficit was too much to overcome.
It was a totally unchanged starting line-up for Bedford this weekend, with James Fish, Ed Prowse, Lewis Bean, Ollie Newman, Bird-Tulloch and Josh Gillespie all retaining their places after the hard-fought win over Hartpury last time out. And with Manny Iyogun, Tui Uru and Tommy Mathews all waiting to enter the fray from the bench, Blues headed to Cornwall hoping to rise up the Championship rankings.
And they produced the perfect start, holding Pirates out with some strong defence before Lane scooped up a loose pass and raced in 60 metres to score.
But Cornish, who had a clean record coming into the match having beaten Saracens and Richmond in the opening rounds, soon showed their hand and responded to Bedford’s score by immediately sending a driving maul over the try line.
Bedford stayed ahead as the conversion was missed but ill-discipline cost the away side; and with Joe Atkinson sent to the sin bin, Pirates wasted no time making the most of their extra man – scoring first off an overthrown lineout, and then exploiting the space out wide for their third.
Pirates would bookend the break with two more tries, building the phases patiently before burrowing over for the bonus-point score and sending another driving maul over the line after the turnaround.
Bedford’s bench swung some momentum back Blues’ way and Bird-Tulloch almost set replacement scrum-half Ewan Fenley free on the hour mark.
But Cornish held firm and the away side were made to wait until the game’s dying minutes for their consolation score; Fields eventually burrowed over off the back of a maul but with time against them, Bedford couldn’t claw back enough of Pirates’ lead to take any league points back to Bedford.
What they said...
“We’re obviously disappointed,” said Saints centre Bird-Tulloch after the final whistle. “We came here believing we could get a good result but we didn’t really enter the game with the right mindset. We were slow to get out the blocks and we let them dominate us in the first half and then we were on the back foot.
“I thought the second half was a lot more positive and we took the game to them a bit more but they're a good side; if you come down here and you don’t perform, you’re going to lose. They’re a very well organised side and you’ve got to bring your A-game.
“We’ve got a lot of learning to take away but we’re looking forward to next weekend against Jersey now.”
And Bedford’s attentions must now quickly turn to the arrival of Jersey, who travel to Goldington Road next Saturday to take on Blues in round four (kick-off 1pm).