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BluesWatch: Bedford return to winning ways against Richmond

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...

Putting together their most complete performance of the season so far, Bedford led from the word go at Goldington Road and scored six tries against Richmond to claim their first five-point haul in 2021 – with Bedford-born Saints Academy centre Tom Litchfield named Man of the Match. 

Blues took the lead quickly, with tries from Pat Tapley, captain Rich Lane and Oli Robinson on the scoreboard before the half-time whistle had blown, and though Richmond hit back with a score of their own as Bedford went down to 14 just before the break, it was one-way traffic in the second 40 minutes. 

A try from Saints winger Josh Gillespie pulled Blues two scores clear after the restart, before a brace from replacement hooker Jacob Fields sealed the resounding win on home soil. 

With a total of ten Saints in tow this week as they returned to Goldington Road, Bedford turned out an entirely Black, Green and Gold front row – with Emmanuel Iyogun, Reece Marshall and Ed Prowse all packing down in blue. Lewis Bean manned the engine room behind them, while Ollie Newman started at flanker. Connor Tupai steered the ship from scrum-half while Litchfield and Gillespie injected some pace into Bedford’s backs, with Tui Uru and Tommy Mathews also entering the game from the bench.

It was 18-year-old Litchfield that got the ball moving for Bedford, darting through the Richmond defence to set Tapley free for Blues’ first score just seven minutes in.

Richmond reduced the deficit with a penalty but Blues then put together a Try of the Week nominated effort, with Saints hooker Marshall cutting a sweet line through Richmond’s midfield and teeing up fullback Lane to race in for Bedford’s second.

And the home side soon had a 14-point lead as Blues’ flowing attack continued to thwart their visitors, building up the phases close to the line before Robinson bundled over.

Richmond his back just before the break; with Bedford’s Oli Curry in the sin bin, the away side made the most of their numerical advantage to snipe over on the half-time whistle.

But those were Richmond’s last points of the afternoon, and though it wasn’t quite as one-sided as the scoreline suggested, Tupai’s sprint 40 metres upfield just seconds after the restart put Bedford back on the front foot, and it was not long before Gillespie had secured the bonus point with his first try in Blues colours. 

Will Maisey’s conversion made it 24-10 and less than five minutes later Bedford had another, this time a clever lineout move saw replacement hooker Fields over the whitewash.

From there Bedford would have to turn attack into defence, as they worked to keep Richmond out for close to 15 minutes; but the home side held firm and their efforts were eventually rewarded as Fields claimed his second, sniping over from the back of a ruck with less than five minutes left on the clock to seal the five-point win. 

What they said... 

“It felt really good to get a victory here at home,” said man-of-the-match Litchfield. “We’ve been looking to get a victory under our belt to kick-start the second half of the season for us, so it was really good to get that today. 

“We knew that towards the end we’d probably have the legs, that we could take it out of them by moving the ball around. But really we just wanted to put our game onto them, if you’d have added a few more minutes onto the game we might have scored again but we’ll take the victory that we earned.

“[To be able to play for Bedford] is really good for me, I’ve been coming down here to watch as a supporter and it’s amazing to be able to now play on this pitch. It means a lot.”

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