Bedford Blues held on for a massive 26-22 away victory against Caldy, as Mike Rayer’s side pipped the Merseyside team to the post in a close encounter.
After three losses in four league games so far in 2024, getting back to winning ways was becoming extremely important in order to hold on to the coattails of the league leaders, and the Blues did just that up north.
This game had been rearranged after a controversial late postponement for a frozen pitch at the beginning of December. Paton Field is not an easy place to go, and Bedford Blues lost here last season.
For eighty minutes, the two sides went toe-to-toe, although it was the home side who began better as they dominated territory in the first ten, resulting in a try for Rekeiti Ma’asi-White.
Joel Matavesi was also sin-binned in the build up to the game’s first score for an improper tackle, resulting in a far from ideal start for the Blues.
A home penalty extended the Caldy lead to 10-0 and it took almost twenty five minutes for the Blues to find any sort of stranglehold on the game, but with their first real attack, they were able to capitalise.
Oisin Heffernan was the man to get the Blues on the scoreboard with a strong carry over the try line and when Will Maisey pinged over a penalty, the sides went into the half-time break at ten points apiece.
Consistent Maisey the difference
It wasn’t the free-flowing game that the Blues would have wanted; they had to show guts all afternoon and it was the left boot of Will Maisey that would prove to be the difference.
The Blues went ahead for the first time with a Jac Arthur try shortly into the second half as he found himself at the bottom of an almighty maul, but Caldy hit back courtesy of Matt Gallagher; his fourth try in two games.
From there, it became the Maisey show as he slotted over three penalties out of three to slowly open up a critical 11-point lead as the second half went by in a haze of big hits and kick tennis.
Late possession and a flurry of penalties for the home side threatened to ruin the Blues’ party and although JJ Dickinson scored a try with the last play of the game to give the home side a losing bonus point, it was Bedford who travel back down south with the win.
The victory means the Blues leapfrog Doncaster Knights into third in the Championship table, with the division’s top two in Ealing and Cornish Pirates battling it out in the capital.
It’s now another fortnight’s wait for the next game – at Hartpury in Gloucestershire – but unlike earlier in the season when the waits became a drag, the Blues squad may well be thankful for the rest after a bruising few weeks, ending on a highly positive note.