Pirates late show condemn Bedford Blues to cruel defeat

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Image: David Horn and PRIME Media Images

Despite a superb victory in the capital last weekend, Mike Rayer has been keen to keep his feet firmly on the ground as his side welcomed Cornish Pirates to a sunny and blustery Goldington Road this afternoon.

Rayer made a further seven changes to the starting line-up, with the Pirates – keen to keep up their own good form as they continue their assault on the Championship title – making two changes of their own.

The conditions were proving to be a challenge for both sides in the opening moments; the remnants of Storm Eunice leaving kicks misjudged, and mistakes aplenty in the early exchanges.

Cornish Pirates were looking to run the ball as their kicks were holding up in the wind and the fourth-placed side were doing so with great effect, with the majority of the territory in the opening ten minutes.

The Pirates were enjoying a lot of the ball in the early stages; orchestrated by playmaker Arwel Robson but it was Bedford who were the first to sniff the try line, only for two lineouts to go frustratingly long.

However, it was third time lucky for Bedford moments later, Alex Day collecting the tap back with Joel Matavesi later finding his fellow centre, Reuben Bird-Tulloch who touched down despite a juggle to give the Blues a 5-0 lead.

It was not a classic by any means, both teams struggling at the set piece and the gusts continuing to cause some issues although the Pirates continued to try and run their way to an opening.

Chances were few and far between; most of the time seemed to be elapsing at set pieces and with no further kicks on goal or surges to the try line, the Blues went into the break with their noses ahead at 5-0.

Neither side would be too unhappy with the state of affairs, although the Pirates would have the wind behind them in the second period, as well as the better of Goldington Road’s famous slope.

The Pirates did not have the best of starts to the second half though; openside flanker Antonio Kiri Kiri sin-binned in the opening moments.

From the line-out, the ball was floated outside to Matt Worley who offloaded to Rich Lane to increase Bedford’s lead, and with Grimoldby nailing the conversion, the Blues led 12-0.

The Pirates finally got on the board thanks to a Robson penalty, but the Bedford defence were once again standing firm to deny the visitors more as they lay siege on the host’s try line.

The partisan Bedford crowd were beginning to grow in voice, as they thought they had extended their lead through Luke Frost, only for the referee to rule it out before Matt Worley broke clear only to be brought down five yards short.

Once again, Bedford’s defence were holding firm whenever the Pirates had possession, the visitors unable to make any real inroads to the host’s 22, as Bedford’s slim 12-3 lead was held.

Brave Bedford defence breaks as Pirates sail on

The ball was almost exclusively in the Bedford half in the final quarter of the game, but just like last week, Bedford’s defence was both clever and effective and kept the Pirates at bay.

As the clock ticked past the seventy-minute mark, the Pirates did finally penetrate the defence, Kiri Kiri the try scorer as the Blues faithful geared themselves up for a nail-biting final ten minutes with their side leading 12-10.

There was a relative calm before the storm, as Corrie Barrett went off injured, with chants of ‘Bedford!’ erupting around the ground as the Blues continued to play their own game and surge forward.

Sometimes, that positivity can reap rewards, yet sometimes it can play against the Blues; this time the Pirates capitalising as they earned a late penalty in front of the posts.

It was the first time the Pirates had led, and there was still time for them to increase their lead; Dean Adamson spilling a high kick into the arms of Robson who fed Tom Channon to secure the win for the visitors.

It finished 20-12 to the Pirates; a cruel defeat for Bedford who once again defended with valour in large parts.

But there is a reason why Cornish Pirates are challenging for the title and their quality, aided by some Bedford errors, was too much for the Blues in the end.

Elsewhere, Ealing bounced back from defeat last weekend with a gutsy 22-10 victory at fellow high-flyers, Jersey Reds while Doncaster shaded past Hartpury 11-10.

Ampthill won the early kick-off 13-8 against a Richmond in wet conditions while London Scottish remain rooted to the foot of the table after losing 36-24 at home to Nottingham.

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