A Jordan Onojaife red card on the brink of half-time condemned Bedford Blues to an ultimately fatal second half as Mike Rayer’s side lost out to Cornish Pirates in the Championship.
Changes were made by the Bedford Director of Rugby; the most notable of which was Louis Grimoldby coming in at fly-half, while Bedford’s man of the season so far, Will Maisey, moved to 12.
The first half went largely to plan for Bedford, despite conceding two early penalties to the hosts that were duly dispatched by the boot of Arwel Robson.
The Blues hit back with the first try of the game; with Maisey’s kick collected by Pat Tapley to dive over to give Bedford the lead for the first time.
However, last season’s indiscipline reared its ugly head in 2021, with Dean Adamson first shown a yellow card for a high tackle, before the Pirates scored their first try of the game.
A driving maul was converted by Josh Caulfield; but Bedford hit back before their full numbers were restored with Alex Day converting a wonderful team move.
A further try from Alex Woolford restored Bedford’s lead on the half hour mark, before the Pirates hit back to reduce the deficit to one point, in what was turning into yet another classic Championship tie.
But with Bedford leading 19-18, arguably the moment that turned the match came from a moment of madness from Jordan Onojaife who was sent off for throwing a punch on the brink of half-time.
Despite the man difference, Bedford managed to secure their bonus point thanks to a now customary try from Dean Adamson but that is as good as it got for the Blues.
Second half tries from Joe Elderkin, Rory Parata and Syd Blackmore condemned Bedford to a 39-24 defeat in a second half where they struggled to assert their dominance.
Last season’s woes with sin bins and red cards were the ultimate game changer but credit must go to the Pirates who took full advantage of their man difference to climb to second in the Championship table..
Next up for Bedford Blues – who now sit in fifth place – is a home game against Nottingham next weekend where they will hope to bounce back up the league standings.