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Match Report: Bedford Blues 33 – 24 Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints’ preseason began with defeat in a keenly contested clash against partner club Bedford Blues at Goldington Road.

A youth-filled visiting side led after a topsy-turvy first-half, George Hendy’s double and a third from Angus Scott-Young sandwiched by Pat Tapley’s brace of tries for the Blues.

But it was Bedford who would enjoy the better of proceedings after the break, adding three more tries to Saints’ one – through Henry Pollock – to pick up their first win over their visitors since 1994. 

FIRST HALF

Bedford took the initiative early doors and were rewarded with the game’s first try, Tapley going over in the corner and Will Maisey nailing the touchline conversion.

While Saints struggled to find a foothold, they would eventually hit back with their very first bout of pressure, George Hendy finishing on the right and then doubling his tally almost immediately, scooping up and racing home when Bedford failed to deal with Archie McParland’s towering box-kick.

With James Grayson’s conversion, the visitors were now in control of the game and the scoreboard at 7 – 12, and soon after Scott-Young crashed over. The Aussie was the beneficiary of a sharp break and offload by Reuben Logan, Grayson again finding the mark with the extras.

Tiredness and errors understandably started to creep in – both sides guilty of wasting periods of territory – but it was the Blues who settled to again work it wide for Tapley, the winger slipping in for his second of the afternoon four minutes before the break.

SECOND HALF

Maisey’s conversion went astray, but with the score at 12 – 19 as the teams turned around, it was Bedford with the bit between their teeth from kick-off. Sustained pressure kept their visitors pinned in and eventually Joe Howard was driven over from a five-metre lineout.

Now well and truly in the ascendency, Blues would keep Saints under the cosh and went back into the lead when Matt Worley skipped over from close range.

It could have been worse but for good work from Toby Fricker – one of a number of guests entering the fray for Saints – who cleaned up a dangerous kick well. The winger’s intervention would then be backed up by a brilliant score as Saints fought back.

Jake Garside was the architect, stepping through heavy traffic brilliantly to lay on the try for the impressive Pollock and bring the men in white back within two points at 26 – 24.

The game was now on a knife edge and the groans around Goldington Road were audible as a lineout in Saints’ 22 slipped through Bedford hands.

The hosts were thankful that it was not a mistake they would rue, and with three minutes to go Luke Frost went over, Louis Grimoldby’s successful conversion taking the game more than a score beyond Saints.

And that’s the way it would stay, Bedford comfortably seeing the final moments out to claim victory.

LINE-UPS:

BEDFORD BLUES: Worley; Tapley, E Grayson, Venter, Adamson, Lennon; Jack, Fish (c), O’Connor, Williams, Woolford, Arthur, Curran, Howard.
Replacements: Conway, Fields, Heffernan, Onojaife, Frost, King, Day, Grimoldby, French, Coulson. 

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS: Hendy; Glister, Litchfield, J Matavesi, Seabrook, J Grayson, McParland; Green, Cruse (c), Millar Mills, Atuanya, Scott-Young, Logan, Pollock, Cherry.
Replacements: Gradwick-Light, Patten, Prowse, Vukasinovic, Moore-Aiono, Garside, Arden, Baker, Daniel, Wright, Lavin, Fricker.

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