A rare Sunday afternoon game beckoned for Bedford Blues this weekend, looking to bounce back from a last gasp defeat against Cornish Pirates at Goldington Road as they travelled to Nottingham.
Mike Rayer has a habit of making changes to his starting line-up, but there were only two this week as Ed Prowse came in to the front row with Robin Williams returning to the pack.
There was also a welcome return to the substitutes bench for talisman Will Maisey, who has been out for over a month with an injury sustained at Richmond.
Bedford have already beaten Nottingham comfortably this season; a 40-9 victory at Goldington Road in November showing the Blues’ attacking prowess, with today’s return fixture following a similar pattern.
However, it was the hosts who had the best of the fast opening exchanges, taking the lead through Charlie Thacker before Joey Conway hit back for the Blues with his first try for the club.
Morgan Bunting restored Nottingham’s lead inside ten minutes; both sides looking to hit the ground running with flair and intent as the hosts led 14-5, but Bedford hit back once more.
Dean Adamson – who would go on to repeat his hat-trick from November’s reverse fixture – was on hand to touch down his first after an enterprising run from Tui Uru leaving a little over 1,000 spectators applauding the entertainment on show.
There was still enough time before the break for Bedford to take the lead; Joey Conway doubling his Blues try count, rampaging his way through Nottingham tackles to touch down under the posts.
A 19-17 lead for Mike Rayer’s side was befitting of both sides who were putting on a compelling spectacle of adventurous rugby but Bedford showed their class in the second period.
Bedford bonus point as Blues leapfrog Hartpury
After an uncharacteristically cagey opening five minutes or so, it was Bedford who struck first in the second half courtesy of Dean Adamson’s second try before Nottingham responded through Archie Vanes.
From there, it was the Bedford Blues show, Connor Tupai spotting a gap in the Nottingham defence to stroll through before Reuben Bird-Tulloch scored a stunner to put Bedford out of sight.
The ball was spread wide from the lineout, via the returning Maisey to the Ealing loanee who sprinted through another Nottingham gap from the halfway line to race clear and score.
Maisey’s arrival also saw a return to the superbly consistent kicking that had put him in the higher echelons of the Championship’s scoring charts earlier this season as Bedford led 40-22 heading into the final ten minutes.
Dean Adamson however wanted another hat-trick, and it was provided to him on the verge of the eighty minute mark as Onojaife stole the ball, which found its way out to the prolific winger to secure his third, and Bedford’s seventh try.
The final score of 47-22 was a deserved bonus point victory for Bedford Blues; showing their customary glamour and guile to leapfrog Hartpury into fifth place in the Championship.
Elsewhere, the title race is becoming a must-watch; Doncaster Knights travelling to pre-season favourites, Ealing yesterday and pulling off a 25-17 victory to remain top of the table.
Cornish Pirates are now in the driving seat, squeezing past Jersey Reds 21-17 this afternoon to remain second, four points behind Doncaster but with two games in hand, while Ealing sit in third.
Coventry thrashed London Scottish 62-12, while Bedford’s local rivals Ampthill did them a favour as they beat Hartpury by a single point.
Bedford Blues have a free week next week, but return to action under the Friday night lights at Goldington Road as they host Coventry on Friday 11th March.