The topsy-turvy nature of Championship rugby added another chapter to its books this afternoon as ninth placed Coventry squeezed home by a single point against Mike Rayer’s Bedford Blues.
Bedford’s last visit to Butts Park Arena was in March earlier this year which resulted in a 10-9 loss and history repeated itself as Coventry pulled off another win by a single point.
Following the Blues’ convincing victory against Nottingham last weekend, Mike Rayer made only two changes, confident that the majority of his starting XV could repeat the job.
Coventry on the other hand were looking to recover from a shock loss to London Scottish, but the form book looked to be holding as Bedford took an early lead.
Jack Hughes scored the opening try; bundling over following a rolling maul and with the ever-dependable Will Maisey slotting home his first conversion, the Blues led 7-0.
The first quarter held a lot of positives for Bedford, as they stole lineout after lineout, but it was Coventry who scored next courtesy of Josh Barton out wide, although the conversion was missed.
Coventry felt they should have taken the lead on the half hour mark only for the referee to call play back for a penalty as the hosts were about to touch down.
The penalties continued to come, resulting in the first yellow card of the day for Bedford’s Oli Stedman, as the Blues looked to hold on for half-time.
However, Coventry were also playing on the edge of the laws and received a yellow card of their own – their first of many – as Adam Peters was binned for the hosts.
Coventry took the lead for the first time at the beginning of the second half; Tony Fenner slotting home a simple penalty and from that point, Bedford could not regain it.
Five minutes later, Coventry extended their lead courtesy of ex-Blues centre Tom Griffiths and with the conversion nailed, the hosts looked in control at 15-8.
Louis James received the game’s third yellow card for the hosts on the hour mark and he was followed to the bin by Joe Snow as Coventry were reduced to just 13 players.
Bedford however, could not capitalise with penalty opportunities squandered, much to the frustration of the travelling Blues contingent.
Despite close brushes with the host’s try line, Bedford could not squeeze over it and despite Tom Griffiths receiving Coventry’s fourth yellow card of the afternoon, it looked to be a case of so near yet so far.
The game was becoming fractured, with mistakes galore by both sides but this was good for Coventry who continued to lead 15-7 as the clock ticked into the red.
There was hope for the Blues as they eventually touched down for their second try of the game courtesy of Connor Tupai, but there was not enough time to steal the win with the clock approaching the red.
It was a lacklustre performance, arguably from both sides, in a cantankerous game; a total of five sin-bins a sign of the mistake-laden game that led to Bedford’s demise.
Will Maisey, voted as the BRFA (Bedford Rugby Followers Association) man of the match once again, was a familiar highlight but last week’s fluency was replaced with blunders on a disappointing afternoon.
Elsewhere, Ealing Trailfinders continue to lead the division after a 54-17 victory against Ampthill whilst Hartpury dismissed Richmond 38-20.
Bedford Blues drop to sixth in the Greene King IPA Championship, with Coventry five points behind in seventh as Mike Rayer’s side host London Scottish at Goldington Road next weekend.