Blues look to bounce back against old rivals Coventry in top four clash

Bedford Blues face Coventry on New Years Day in 2024 at Goldington Road
Image: Claire Jones / Bedford Blues / 'X'

The business end of the Championship season really hits hard for Bedford Blues in the coming weeks, and it begins with a tricky trip to the Butts Park Arena to face old rivals, Coventry on Saturday afternoon.

Last weekend’s disappointing loss to Ampthill has made the remaining four games more paramount than they were before, with Doncaster Knights and Champions-elect, Ealing still to play alongside Coventry and London Scottish.

Doncaster travel to that in-form Ampthill side tomorrow, and they are hot on the heels of Bedford Blues in the league standings with Mike Rayer’s men needing a victory from a venue that is somewhat of a bogey ground.

Bedford Blues haven’t won at Coventry in sixteen years, and breaking that mould will prove tough this time as Coventry are on fire having won their last 6 games, scoring more than fifty points in their last two encounters against Nottingham and Cambridge.

Chudley farewell

There’s also an intriguing sub plot involving former Blues scrum half, Will Chudley, these days of Coventry.

Chudley made 68 appearances at Goldington Road before forging an excellent career at the likes of Newcastle Falcons, Exeter and Bath before joining Coventry from a now defunct Worcester side in 2022.

The 36-year old has announced his retirement from rugby union this week and will hope to close out a superb career as Coventry attempt to chase down Ealing at the Championship summit.

Changes made after Ampthill disappointment

Perhaps the most notable omissions from the starting line up named by Mike Rayer on Friday morning are Will Maisey – dropped to the bench and replaced at fly half by Louis Grimoldby – and Matt Worley who misses out altogether.

Michael Le Bourgeois moves to full back to accommodate for the missing Worley who doesn’t make the matchday squad, with three further changes in the pack.

Emeka Atuanya misses out after sustaining a shoulder injury against Ampthill last time out, with Robin Williams beginning from the off this time.

Jac Arthur and Joe Howard complete the changes with Rayer keeping the same front row, as the Blues look to return to winning ways.

There are still spaces on the Bedford Rugby Followers Association coach heading north, £10 per seat, with matchday tickets available to purchase here.

The coach will leave North Wing Hospital, Kimbolton Road at 11:00am. Contact Margaret Appleton to book a seat by calling 01234 354708.

Bedford Blues Starting XV:

15. Michael Le Bourgeois, 14. Sean French, 13. Jamie Elliott, 12. Joel Matavesi, 11. Dean Adamson, 10. Louis Grimoldby, 9. Alex Day (C); 1. Joey Conway, 2. James Fish, 3. Bryan O’Connor, 4. Robin Williams, 5. Alex Woolford, 6. Luke Frost, 7. Jac Arthur, 8. Joe Howard

Bedford Blues Replacements:

16. Jacob Fields, 17. Jamie Jack, 18. Oisin Heffernan, 19. Jordan Onojaife, 20. Kieran Curran, 21. James Lennon, 22. Will Maisey, 23. Ewan Baker

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