Coventry spoil Bedford Blues party with New Year win at Goldington Road

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

A full house of 5,000 fans crammed into Goldington Road in the hope of seeing Bedford Blues extend their winning run into 2024, but a clinical Coventry team upset the home side with a 34-19 victory to go top of the table.

As is now common with the Blues at home, they were the ones to concede first as Tongan international, Pat Pellegrini was the spare man to score for the visitors despite some brave defending at first from Will Maisey and then Dean Adamson.

Bedford hit back with a try of their own through Cameron King, but former Blues man Ryan Hutler – returning to Goldington Road for the first time since 2020 – scored the easiest of tries to take the visitors’ advantage to nine points.

By the time Coventry had scored their third, this time through Jordon Poole, the capacity crowd at Goldington Road were beginning to feel the nerves.

Image: Claire Jones / Bedford Blues / ‘X’

Cameron King’s second try of the game restored some hope for the Blues with the half-time whistle approaching, again off the back of a well-executed maul from the home pack but the home side could not keep out the travelling back line for long.

On the stroke of the interval, Bedford’s captain, Alex Day was sin binned and from the resulting penalty, Coventry acquired their bonus point thanks to a second try for Poole, leaving a mini mountain to climb for Mike Rayer’s side, who trailed 28-12 at the halfway stage.

Flurry of yellows give Blues look in

There have been some wonderful comebacks in Bedford Blues’ season so far, especially after slow starts, and they came out all guns blazing in the second half.

A big tackle from Tom Lockett on his own try line set the tone and it wasn’t long before the Blues were deep in Coventry territory, and with Obinna Nkwocha binned for the away side, the sides were levelled up numerically.

The pressure continued and Bedford’s power was rewarded with a penalty try and another sin binning for the visitors – this time for Poole – as Coventry’s lead was reduced to 28-19.

Image: Claire Jones / Bedford Blues / ‘X’

With the backing of the sell out crowd behind them, Bedford Blues set about creating a comeback but any hope of territory was snuffed out by the referee’s whistle as the home side could not find the next score.

In fact, Pellegrini extended the away side’s advantage with a simple penalty moments before Coventry were restored to a full compliment of players when the game became increasingly scrappy and desperate.

Another penalty for the fly-half – who ended the game with 19 points – secured a famous 34-19 win for Coventry and condemned Bedford Blues to their first league loss since the opening day of the Championship season.

Coventry’s bonus point win takes them top of the Championship, although Ealing have two games in hand over the Midlands side and sit just one point behind, while Bedford Blues drop to fourth.

The Blues face another long break before their next fixture, in 19 days time against a tough Doncaster side at Castle Park.