Coventry storm to final day victory at Goldington Road

Blues Director of Rugby, Mike Rayer (Image: Bedford Blues)

For one final time, Goldington Road welcomed the Bedford Blues faithful on a warm season-closing afternoon with third placed Coventry coming to town in the latest instalment of one of rugby’s oldest rivalries.

In the second match of a Goldington Road weekend double header – the first of which being a tense yet entertaining victory for England Under 19s against Italy on Friday night – both the Blues and their visitors competed in a pulsating affair to finish a successful campaign for both clubs.

The atmosphere was particularly special in what was a frantic opening but it was Coventry who took the lead through Suva Ma’asi’s try, with Tui Uru – playing his last game for Bedford Blues – shown what was a harsh yellow card in the build up.

Read: Tui Uru to leave Bedford Blues at the end of the season

Coventry capitalise on Bedford errors

Chances were few and far between for the Blues in the opening quarter, reminiscent of last weekend’s battle against Ampthill, and despite a five-minute period of pressure upon the return of Uru, Bedford remained on the zero points mark.

Instead it was Coventry who extended their lead; Will Chudley intercepting a pass just inside the Blues half and as he nonchalantly strolled over the try line, the visitors led 14-0.

The Blues did however respond immediately, Louis Grimoldby’s clever cross field kick collected by full back Rich Lane, who halved the deficit on his 100th appearance for Bedford Blues.

Rich Lane was excellent on his 100th appearance for Bedford Blues (Image: Zach Levens)

Another yellow card, this time for Coventry’s Tobi Wilson for a deliberate knock on, roused the crowd of 3,256 even further but mistakes at the lineout cost Mike Rayer’s side and allowed the visitors to open up a 21-7 advantage through an Adam Peters score.

It was clinical rugby from the visitors, whose defence were steadfast in the latter stages of the opening period whilst they capitalised in devastating fashion on Blues mistakes to score three first half tries.

Six-try Coventry close out in style

Five minutes into the second half, Bedford hit back thanks to Rich Lane’s second try of the afternoon but with an uncharacteristic miss from the peg for Will Maisey, the deficit remained at nine points.

Individual errors once again came to the fore though; first Tui Uru’s misplaced pass opened the door before Jordan Onojaife’s knock on gave Coventry the ball; which was soon kicked cross field for James Martin to dot down and secure the Coventry bonus point.

A fifth try, this time for Sentiki Nayalo opened up a 35-12 lead for the side from the Midlands but the Blues kept coming and their persistence a few moments later was rewarded with a 115th try in Blues colours for Dean Adamson.

Dean Adamson scored his 115th try for Bedford Blues with a customary dive into the corner (Image: Zach Leven)

A penalty for Coventry added three points to their total in a period of calm, almost as if both sides were saving energy for a grandstand finish but with just fifteen minutes on the clock and a 19-point difference to close, the Blues would have to motor.

The Blues enjoyed a lot of the ball in the closing stages but any faint hopes were scuppered with five minutes to go as Tobi Wilson gathered a wonderful offload to dive into the corner and secure a comprehensive 43-19 win for Coventry.

It was a performance befitting of their third placed finish the Championship, although Bedford Blues were sometimes the architects of their own downfall, with individual errors and scrappy rugby leaving them consistently playing catch up.

Jersey secure the title

Despite a disappointing final day performance, Bedford Blues are well deserving of their fourth place in English rugby’s second tier, with Goldington Road the venue for some of the Blues’ finest performances in recent seasons.

Elsewhere, Ealing beat Doncaster in the early kick off but it was not enough to deny Jersey celebrations as the Islanders secured their maiden Championship title with victory against Ampthill.

Richmond’s relegation to National One was confirmed with defeat at home to Cornish Pirates after London Scottish pipped Nottingham on Friday night to secure a dramatic escape to stay in the division.

Hartpury also beat Caldy, but it doesn’t detract from an impressive debut Championship season for the Merseyside club, while Cambridge won National One with a 59-10 victory over Birmingham Moseley and will join the Blues in the Championship next season.