Bedford comeback not enough as Hartpury late try break Blues hearts

Image: Gary Lea Photos

Alex Morgan’s last gasp try for Hartpury broke Blues hearts in the Cotswolds as an enthralling Championship contest ended in defeat for Bedford in Gloucestershire.

It was full marks for drama, but ultimately, a slow start for Bedford Blues cost them as they narrowly missed out in what was an entertaining but ultimately disappointing 41-35 defeat.

Read: Two changes as Bedford Blues travel away to the Cotswolds

Mike Rayer’s side are starting to make a habit of giving their opponents a head start and this game was no different as Hartpury opened up a 14-0 lead inside twelve minutes.

Harry Short opened the scoring for the home side before Morgan Adderley-Jones doubled the lead with the consistent Harry Bazalgette converting both tries.

Adderley-Jones was then shown the first of three yellow cards for Hartpury after a high tackle on Jake Garside but the Blues could not make the numerical advantage count.

It was in fact Hartpury who extended their lead to 21-0 thanks to a midfield interception from Louis Hillman-Cooper who ran in from fifty metres to dot down.

Blues up against it

Bedford were struggling to get any foothold in the game before the half hour mark, even with the assistance of the home side as Jack Davies received Hartpury’s second yellow card after cumulative penalties on the five-metre line for the visitors.

Garside did get the Blues on the board shortly before half-time to reduce the deficit, but Bazalgette’s penalty was the last act of the first period to give the home side what would become a vital 24-7 lead at the halfway stage.

The second half signalled the start of a majestic Bedford Blues comeback.

Seán French fed serial try scorer, Dean Adamson for a try on the left wing and Will Maisey’s excellent conversion from the touchline reduced the deficit to 24-12.

Moments later, a penalty try put the cat amongst the pigeons and with Jake Morris sin-binned – the third time Hartpury had been reduced to fourteen men – the door was ajar for the Blues.

Short was once again on hand to keep the Blues at arm’s length with another try at the bottom of a driving maul but five minutes later, Cameron King excellently stole the ball and drove over the try line to make it 31-26.

Close but no cigar

Bazalgette’s penalty opened up a six-point advantage once again, but Mike Rayer and his side knew a converted try would give the Blues a lead for the first time in the game.

The final ten minutes were heart-stopping as Bedford tried to build a position to steal the game, but couldn’t get near the try line before the home side gifted the Blues the ball with a poor throw from a lineout.

Sensing this was their moment, James Lennon fed it to Louis Grimoldby and the former Ampthill man found Will Maisey who would dive over to huge cheers from the travelling Bedford contingent.

There were still a couple of minutes left, and it gave Hartpury one more golden opportunity which they took thanks to Alex Morgan to break Bedford hearts and clinch a 41-35 victory.

The Blues bring two losing bonus points back to Bedford, but it will feel like a case of, ‘What if?’ for the team as they looked to have stolen an unlikely victory.

The slow starts are no doubt causing the Blues a lot of issues and despite a rallying effort in the final quarter, it goes down as an infuriating loss with Bedford dropping down the table to fourth.

Elsewhere, Ealing thrashed Cambridge 57-7 to extend their lead to twelve points at the top of the Championship table.

Coventry comfortably saw off Ampthill while London Scottish and Caldy fought out a 33-33 draw and Doncaster Knights squeezed past Nottingham 20-14 on Friday night.

Keep Local news Alive in Bedfordshire