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Anyone doubting Bedford Blues’ recent improvement in form as being a temporary thing – need to reassess sharpish – as Mike Rayer’s charges proved themselves in spade loads at the Mennaye today. Not that anyone at the Cornish Pirates would have taken this contest as a given home win.
But then a slightly under par home side, did show the steelier side to their game that seems to be emerging this season – when the pressure is mounting. And make no mistake – when Bedford left wing, Matt Worley, outstripped Kyle Moyle into the Scoreboard Corner with ten minutes remaining the Blues were certainly ramping up the stakes. Had Hooley not scuffed his kick slightly from out wide – the visitors would certainly have fancied their chances of more than just a losing bonus point.
As mentioned though – there is a grittier side to the Pirates game when the going gets tough. Biting fingernails – as the home crowd most certainly were – is not on the options list. Witness Wedlake’s try saving tackle in the Clubhouse Corner, on former Pirate favourite Joe Atkinson moments after Alvarez had extended their lead to two scores. The back rower had his left arm already extended to swat the winger away – only to find himself disappearing towards the food outlets, as if he wasn’t there.
Witness too – Parata’s decisive turnover in the dying seconds – with Bedford with the wind in their sails. And then his compadre in the centres, Patterson, blithely picking himself up from the deck with blood streaming from a head wound from contact – in the ensuing phases to deny their opponents any further say in the game. The Ulsterman no doubt brushing it away as a mere ‘flesh wound’.
And yet this would exclude some of the more stylish play from the hosts – that is also a feature of the Pirates playbook. Wedlake’s first half try with the half hour mark approaching being just one example – something that wouldn’t have been but for Moyle’s vision and pace that created it.
By then the Pirates looked as if a third score may just be around the corner. Dunks’ mazey one yard crash over the line had cancelled out the Blues’ early lead through Hooley’s three from the tee. The popular No 8 having reunited himself with his boot by this time – his errant footwear having been seen earlier being lobbed around for some impromptu passing practice by the visitors.
It wasn’t to be as it transpired – as the Goldington Road ‘crew’ upped the ante as the first period drew to a close. Their reward being their first try of the game via No 8, Dan Temm – neatly converted by the dependable Hooley.
Two third quarter penalties from the hosts from the boots of Cargill & Alavarez – as mentioned previously – seemed to have given the Cornish side the advantage. Bedford’s change in pace clearly undid any such assumption – and the finale to a cracking contest didn’t disappoint. The end result being that the Pirates retain P2 and travel to Coventry in a week’s time, with every intention of holding onto that status.