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...
Coming off the back of a home loss in their final preseason outing, Blues hoped to turn things around as they made the short trip to Coventry with ten Saints in tow for their Championship season opener on Saturday.
However, it was frustratingly a tale of missed opportunities as Bedford were undone by a last-minute penalty at Butts Park Arena, to lose out by a single point.
A solitary Tommy Mathews penalty was the only score on the board at the break and though the young Northampton fly-half and replacement Will Maisey added another three points each from the tee, Coventry's try on the hour mark left the victory within their reach.
Blues then lost a man to the sin bin in the game‘s dying minutes, allowing the home side to send a penalty through the uprights to secure the 10-9 win and leave Bedford with just one league point for their efforts.
FULL-TIME | Blues get a losing bonus point after Tony Fenner’s last-gasp penalty gives @CoventryRugby the victory.— Bedford Blues (@BedfordBluesRFC) March 6, 2021
Congratulations to our hosts; we wish you well for the rest of the campaign.
Coventry 10 - 9 Bedford #BluesFamily #differentshadeofblue pic.twitter.com/Dzfh10ESvW
Bedford’s pack was once again bolstered by a host of familiar Saints faces, with James Fish, Lewis Bean, Ollie Newman and Tui Uru all packing down in Blue this weekend, while Reuben Bird-Tulloch and Ryan Olowofela took their places in the back-line; and with a Northampton half-back pairing of Connor Tupai and Mathews steering the ship, it was Bedford who enjoyed the lion‘s share of possession in the opening 40 minutes.
Bedford's dominance saw them make several charges into Coventry's 22, with on-loan Tupai, Bird-Tulloch and Uru all getting Blues close but to no avail; and while Mathews’ three from the tee finally got the scoreboard ticking 24 minutes in, it was little consolation to the away side as they headed into half-time with nothing more to show for their efforts.
And a yellow card for Tupai just before the break made things trickier for Bedford as the game got back underway; Mathews did manage to extend Blues’ lead with another penalty, but when Bean was also shown a yellow card, Coventry made the numbers count and sent a driving maul over the line.
A successful Coventry conversion put them ahead for the first time in the game and though the home side continued to come with wave after wave of attack, Bedford’s defence held firm and eventually earned a scrum penalty that allowed Maisey to push Blues back in front with just two minutes left to play.
But a late spell of ill-discipline cost Bedford and Will Carrick-Smith was sent to the sin bin as the infringements built up. The momentum was then with Coventry and after gaining good field position through another string of penalties, the home side eventually lined up for the posts with the last play of the game to scrape the win.
And the Championship challenges continue to come thick and fast for Bedford as they return home to Goldington Road to face off with Hartpury College this Friday (12 March, kick-off 7.45pm).