Bedford Blues remain fourth despite comfortable loss at Coventry

Bedford Blues player holds off a tackle from a Coventry rugby player in their fixture at Butts Park Arena
Image: Kie Fewster / Bedford Blues RFC

Bedford Blues were unable to break their Butts Park Arena curse after Coventry kept the Championship title race alive with an imposing 54-19 victory on Saturday afternoon.

Former Blues winger Ryan Hutler scored a hat-trick as a flurry of second half tries saw Coventry well clear and Mike Rayer’s side could not find a route back as they succumbed to back-to-back league defeats.

The Blues do however remain in fourth place after Ampthill’s stunning form saw them to victory against fifth-placed, Doncaster Knights.

The first half was an even affair but Bedford were the architects of their own downfall when it came to the game’s first score after just eight minutes.

Joel Matavesi did excellently to turn over on his own try line, but in typical Blues fashion, they attempted to play out and when Ryan Hutler intercepted, he only had a short journey to touch down and give Coventry the lead.

Tom Ball added a second try after twenty minutes as the spare man on the home side’s left wing but a few minutes later, the Blues hit back thanks to quick thinking from Louis Grimoldby saw him dive over.

Louis Grimoldby scores a try for Bedford Blues amongst a sea of Coventry defenders
Louis Grimoldby reduces the deficit Image: Kie Fewster / Bedford Blues

Both teams battled it out in midfield until the very end of the first half, when Joey Conway added another try to his Blues tally as he bundled over and when Grimoldby nailed the conversion, the two sides went into the break even at 12-12.

Clinical Coventry show class

At the first blow of the second half whistle, the encounter was open but within ten minutes, it was almost game over.

Pat Pellegrini scored Coventry’s third try inside the first minute of the second period and when Obinna Nkwocha crashed over, the home side had secured another bonus point.

With fifty minutes on the clock, Hutler had his second of the afternoon as he darted through a gap in the Blues defence and when Pellegrini converted, the side in second place had opened up a 33-12 advantage in the blink of an eye.

Hutler’s hat trick came soon after and a further try for James Martin put Coventry on the brink of the half century mark for the third successive game as Coventry began to romp home.

Bedford Blues' centre, Michael Le Bourgeois is tackled by a Coventry defender
Michael Le Bourgeois is stopped in his tracks Image: Kie Fewster / Bedford Blues

James Lennon’s try – after quick thinking from a tap-and-go penalty – was merely a consolation and it was Coventry who would have the last laugh as Will Wand capitalised on a Bedford error to stroll home and take the home team past the fifty point mark.

It concluded a quite unbelievable second half; Coventry putting their pedal to the metal in a scintillating surge to show why they are the only side capable of challenging Ealing at the summit of the Championship.

For Bedford Blues, the final whistle came mercifully, and they will be able to regroup with a week off next week before hosting Doncaster Knights at Goldington Road on 4th May in what will be a key fixture in the race for fourth place.

A key May ahead…

Ampthill are the division’s form team, and have helped Bedford Blues immeasurably after beating them last week as they ran away with victory against Doncaster Knights, with the game at Olney Field ending 49-9.

Ealing’s confirmation as Champions remains likely as they despatched Caldy with ease by 49 points to 18 while London Scottish also remain in good form as they defeated Nottingham 45-27.

Third placed, Cornish Pirates host the Championship’s bottom side, Cambridge on Sunday.

Keep Local news Alive in Bedfordshire