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 Ealing pulling 21 points clear within the first 30 minutes, Bedford fought back hard last weekend to get themselves within a score of their guests as Pat Tapley’s brace and Joe Atkinson’s score sandwiched the half-time break.
But ill-discipline at Goldington Road cost the Blues and with the game heading to uncontested scrums, Ealing quickly made their extra numbers count – crossing the whitewash three more times in the final quarter to clinch their eighth bonus-point win of the season.
With a total of ten Saints in tow as they ran out at Goldington Road for the penultimate time this season, Bedford’s pack boasted four Northampton faces – with Emmanuel Iyogun, Ed Prowse, JJ Tonks and Tui Uru all packing down in Blue. Connor Tupai managed the game from scrum-half while Tom Litchfield put in a man-of-the-match performance in the centres, while Jack Hughes, Ollie Newman and Ethan Grayson began the game amongst Bedford’s replacements.
Ealing’s table-topping form saw the away side lead from the front, crossing the whitewash three times to put themselves 21-0 up less than half an hour in. But Bedford’s resolve held and after quietly keeping possession, got their reward in a Tapley double before the break. And the hosts sandwiched half-time with another score as they sent Atkinson over just minutes after the restart to bring the scoreline to 17-21.
Bedford kept pushing but an accumulation of scrum penalties saw Henry Paul sent to the sin bin; and with Prowse having already exited the game through injury, the game went to uncontested scrums, and Ealing quickly made their extra numbers count to score on the hour mark.
Blues’ defence worked hard to hold Trailfinders out for another ten minutes but eventually the top-of-the-table side slipped through a gap in the game’s dying minutes before adding the sucker punch score right at the death to see the game end 17-40 in Ealing’s favour.
What they said...
“You have to really credit the boys for that performance, they really dug in at the end there,” said man-of-the-match Litchfield.
“It’s obviously a shame to come away with a loss but we showed some real heart, it was a really good effort from the pack to keep them out for so long. It’s definitely something we need to keep working on going into the last two games of the season but I think the boys put in a really good shift in defence at times today.
“We tried to break the game up a little bit, get our one-on-ones, get the ball moving but it was difficult to get a foothold – Ealing are a very good side. Once we did get the ball moving, we got some momentum and scored some good tries.”
And after a trip to Nottingham, Blues will return to Goldington Road for the final time this season on 29 May to face Ampthill with a possible 1,500 supporters returning to the stadium.
“I’m really excited,” Litchfield added. “It’ll be great to have some atmosphere here at Goldington Road, get a buzz that the boys can feed off. Even being away at Nottingham next weekend, having supporters bring the atmosphere will help us bring some energy.
“We’re very excited to end the season at home against Ampthill with a crowd to watch us, which should hopefully gee us up for that game even more.”