Bedford pull off Cambridge double in historic Blues first

Bedford Blues men in action against Cambridge in March 2024
Image: Bedford Blues / 'X'

Bedford Blues completed a unique double in Cambridge on Saturday afternoon in a club first where Bedford Blues’ Women and Men played consecutively on the same day.

The Men squeezed past Cambridge 22-12 in the Championship after the Women’s second half try blitz beat the hosts 43-15, scoring seven tries in an entertaining opener at Ellgia Fields.

The Men had beaten Cambridge 59-19 in the reverse fixture in November but this game was the opposite from that free-flowing afternoon as the Blues had to grind out a victory against the 10th-placed side.

The first half plaudits went to the Blues pack who rebounded wave after wave of Cambridge attacks, managing to keep them out for forty minutes in a belligerent display of defence.

To a man, from O’Connor to Frost and King to Atuanya, the Blues pack all played their part in saving the try line from being penetrated, as the Blues went in to the sheds with a 5-0 half-time lead.

Seán French scores a try at Cambridge in the Championship
Seán French with the only score of a dogged first half Image: Bedford Blues / ‘X’

It was Seán French who scored the only points of the first half, reaching full stretch for his 16th try of the league campaign but – as is often with the Blues this season – they found another gear in the second half.

Early on in the second period, the lead was doubled thanks to a smart offload from Matt Worley found perennial try scorer, Dean Adamson and when Will Maisey also found the try line, Bedford led 15-0.

Cambridge eventually got on the board after 65 minutes thanks to Matty Williams but it would prove to be too little too late and it was the Blues who would secure their bonus point with a first try of the season for the impressive Luke Frost.

A second Williams try for the hosts was the last play of the game, but it was job done for Mike Rayer’s side who bring maximum points back to Goldington Road with a 22-12 win.

Second half blitz see Women home

Earlier in the day, there were ten tries when the Blues Women’s imperious second half display helped them to a friendly 43-15 victory against NC3 Midlands South champions-elect, Cambridge.

It only took a few minutes for the Blues to open the scoring and it was the first try of what would be a fruitful afternoon for Alivia Usher-Harris as she rolled off the back of a scrum to strike first.

Allegra Sloot hit back for the home side before ten minutes were on the clock and by the quarter of an hour mark, Bea Green had given Cambridge the lead with a try of her own.

Heidi Lawson strolled over for the Blues before Cambridge scored their third; Amber Shunshion smashing through two challenges to dive into the corner to give the home side a 15-14 lead.

Bedford Blues Women in action at Cambridge in March 2024
Image: Bedford Blues / ‘X’

From there however, it became the Bedford Blues show.

Captain, Lucy Middleton gave the Blues a half-time lead with a try and with the skipper converting all three of the Bedford tries, they led 21-15 lead at the interval.

A slow start to the second half ignited when Usher-Harris added to her try count in similar fashion to the first and when she completed her hat-trick on the hour mark, the game looked out of sight for Cambridge.

Esme Fish added her own try before Usher-Harris scored her fourth in what became a second half rout for the visitors, sealing a 43-15 victory in this friendly encounter.

Leaders Ealing lose as race for second is tight

In the Championship, Ealing Trailfinders lost for just the second time this season as Coventry jumped up to second place with a dramatic 34-32 victory at Butts Park Arena.

Doncaster beat London Scottish 34-20 to remain third while Friday night saw a bizarre result with no tries scored as Hartpury beat Nottingham 3-0 in an odd fixture in the Midlands.

Cornish Pirates host Ampthill on Sunday afternoon looking to regain second place with maximum points.