Cornish Pirates remain in second place in the Championship table after holding off a spirited Bedford Blues comeback on Saturday afternoon, taking home all the points in a 27-21 victory.
The in-form Pirates had won their last four games and while Bedford Blues were on their tails in the Championship table, it was the side from Cornwall who triumphed in an attritional affair at Goldington Road.
The Pirates opened the scoring inside the first ten minutes as Tom Pittman slotted over two of the three penalties awarded to the visitors, with the home side only able to gain fleeting hands on the ball as the side from Penzance started much the better.
The first foray from the Blues into Pirates territory was swiftly rewarded though as the Blues pulled off a big shove from the lineout allowing captain Day to dot down and when Maisey converted via the post, Bedford led 7-6.
Final five minutes cause Blues issues
The visiting scrum half hit back; Alex Schwarz darting inside to touch down under the posts to turn the scoreboard purple on the half hour mark before Mike Rayer’s side ended the first forty minutes in truly dreadful fashion.
A Will Maisey pass in midfield hit his own man and bounced forward into the gleeful hands of Joe Jenkins who strolled home and things got worse for the Blues as Luke Frost was sin-binned moments later.
From the resulting penalty, Morgan Nelson bundled over for the Pirates with the final play of the half to gift the visitors a valuable 27-7 lead at the break.
It was a fractured start to the second half with injury stoppages for both sides but Goldington Road exploded on the 51st minute mark as Dean Adamson raced clear on the left wing to score another try in Blues colours to reduce the deficit and mount an unlikely comeback.
It was the first real display of fluency from a Blues back line who had gained little traction in a match dominated by the packs, but they showed real pace in getting the ball out wide and all of a sudden, we had a game on our hands.
As the clock ticked past the hour, it looked as if Bedford were getting up ahead of steam but with Adamson once again putting on the after burners down the left wing, his final pass inside was dropped.
From there, it was back to business for the Pirates.
Perhaps some gamesmanship played a part, but they were attempting to slow the game down as much as possible although the Blues were not helping themselves by throwing forward passes at any opportunity they were able to break.
Time was running out and the ball was not falling for Bedford as Seán French was brought down by a last gasp tackle before Louis Grimoldby’s neat kick out wide for Adamson broke through the hands of the winger with the try line in his sights.
Eventually, Bedford got their try courtesy of substitute, James Lennon and when Will Maisey’s conversion sailed over, the Blues trailed by six points.
The noise level around the ground rose a decibel or two, but when the Pirates gained a scrum from the kick off, it all felt too little too late for the Blues and when Cameron King knocked on, the final whistle blew to give Cornish Pirates a 27-21 victory.
Despite a couple of late antics, the Pirates were good value for the win.
They particularly dominated at the scrum and their defence was at times titanic, not allowing Bedford to play their usual fluent style, although the home side may well have stolen an unlikely triumph had they not dropped the ball at key moments, especially late on.
After what was a scintillating start to the league campaign, Mike Rayer’s side have stumbled in recent weeks and while they escaped Goldington Road with maximum points last weekend, the Pirates were not going to let them off this time.
Alan Paver and Gavin Cattle’s side remain in second in the Championship as Ealing continue to sit top of the league after beating Hartpury 36-20.
Perhaps the shock of the round came in Merseyside where Caldy – Bedford Blues’ opponents next week – beat Coventry 26-22 while Doncaster saw off Cambridge and Nottingham beat Ampthill in an entertaining affair at Olney Field.