Blues pull off shock to beat Leicester Tigers in group stage closer

A bumper crowd witnessed a famous victory at Goldington Road Image: Claire Jones / Twitter

Bedford Blues may have already been knocked out of the Premiership Cup, but they exited the competition with a mighty scalp, as they defeated Leicester Tigers 47-28 at Goldington Road.

The atmosphere was special heading into the final game of the Premiership Cup pool stage and there were no signs that this Pool B encounter was a dead rubber for the Blues as European heavyweights, Leicester Tigers came to town.

Leicester had an entirely different look compared to their 60-7 win against Newcastle last weekend; 23 changes were made to the matchday squad but despite a young side, the lure of the Tigers name brought out the Blues family in a bumper crowd of 3,707.

With the noise inside Goldington Road turned up a notch, it was Bedford Blues who began the better and after four minutes, it was a home grown Bedford lad who opened the scoring.

Dean Adamson broke away on the half way line and after a neat offload via the hands of Cameron King, the ball found its way to Tom Litchfield to run the ball in under the posts.

The Tigers hit back almost immediately thanks to some sloppy play from the Blues, in which they allowed an up and under to bounce three times and despite the Tigers not taking their first opportunity, they certainly took the second as Joseph Woodward was gifted the easiest of tries.

Joe Howard restored Bedford’s lead on the fifteen minute mark after James Lennon caused all sorts of problems at the Leicester scrum, and with the ball turned over, it worked its way out right for Howard to dive over in the corner.

Joe Howard scores Bedford Blues’ second try Image: Claire Jones / Twitter

Bedford led 12-7 until the half hour mark where the referee awarded the visitors a penalty try – and a yellow card for King – as the game became increasingly cantankerous and it was the Tigers who extended their lead after a mistake on the Blues’ own try line gifted the ball once again to Woodward, who scored his second of the afternoon.

The 21-12 half time lead for the Tigers was a fair reflection of an opening forty minutes that were more notable for errors than any particular moments of magic, with a couple of mistakes in dangerous areas causing the Blues some issues.

Slow burner erupts into points fest

The opening moments of the second half were as scrappy as the closing moments of the first, but the fire was lit thanks to two moments of magic from Blues’ perennial try scorer, Dean Adamson.

First, the rapid winger found himself with a bit of space on the left flank, and after a cute little chip over a Tigers player, he ran on with ease to collect and stroll in under the posts.

Adamson was in the action once again moments later, finding space on the same wing but this time was forced into a simple pass inside to Matt Worley to give Bedford the lead.

Adamson’s momentum was brought to an abrupt end soon after as he was forced off through injury, but it didn’t bring an end to the fluency that the Blues had found.

Ben Woollett’s try on the hour mark restored Leicester’s lead – securing a bonus point in the process – but the Blues hit back straight away as Jordan Venter’s kick was raced on to by Cameron King, gaining the Blues a bonus point of their own.

Dean Adamson ignited a brilliant second half for the Blues Image: Claire Jones / Twitter

The Blues led 33-28 heading into the final ten minutes, resurrecting memories of a similar scenario in the North East a few weeks ago, but there didn’t look as if there’d be a repeat as Joey Conway increased the home side’s lead after some fancy footwork led him to another try in Blues colours.

The noise around Goldington Road only increased as the clock ticked down, with the Blues on the cusp of a big scalp, and with every break down in play, came ever louder cheers from a larger than normal crowd.

The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for the final play; Sean French the spare man on the right wing to stroll over in the corner, and with Grimoldby nailing the conversion, Bedford Blues had won 47-28.

A great end to the cup campaign

Some context must be added to what was a convincing final scoreline; this young Leicester Tigers side were second string but it doesn’t take away from a magnificent performance from Mike Rayer’s side.

By their own admission, their cup campaign has been stop start; moments of the Blues magic mixed with some ungainly errors but a Tigers scalp is a Tigers scalp, and it will give the squad a great boost heading into the Championship opener against Ealing in a fortnight at Goldington Road.

Leicester’s four tries gave them the bonus point that was enough to guarantee qualification to the semi-finals while the Blues will more than probably finish fourth, unless Caldy can stop Newcastle Falcons in their tracks.

Either way, it was a magnificent end to an inaugural Premiership Cup campaign for the Blues, leaving a huge Goldington Road crowd happy heading into another action-packed league season.

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