Bedford Blues v Coventry

Saturday, 26 January, 2019 - 15:00
1st XV Championship
Won 53-52

Rugby fans were treated to an extraordinary fixture at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon as Bedford Blues beat Coventry in a 15 try thriller that finished 53-52.

While both teams defences have a fair few questions to answer, lightning attacks were the theme of the afternoon with Bedford pinching the win at the death thanks to a Ryan Hutler try deep in stoppage time.

“Chaos is probably the easiest way to describe that game,” said Rich Lane after the final whistle. “Not our best defensive display, but the boys hung in there and we scored some great tries along the way. We were really disappointed with our showing against Jersey last week, so to bounce back today was big and we’ll hope to carry this into next weekend’s game with Yorkshire Carnegie.”

Those who haven’t been to Goldington Road before were shown the true meaning of running rugby as nine tries were racked up in the opening 40 minutes with each being converted. Defence may have taken a back seat, but attack was all the rage with the first coming after seven minutes when Coventry hooker Scott Tolmie went over from the back of a maul with Tony Fenner adding the extras.

The Blues responded in normal Blues fashion with a fine break down the right with James Lennon starting and finishing the move. Justin Blanchet, Chris Czekaj and Lewis Robling were all involved in the build up before Ryan Hutler played in the scrum half with Jake Sharp slotting the extras.

Coventry then performed a similar feat as they crossed just two minutes later. Rob Knox crossed the whitewash with Fenner adding the extras. The former Blues man was adding his third conversion in the 15th minute when Tom Jubb crossed the line following more fine build up play from the visitors.

Bedford took a big breath and started to make field position count as they held onto the ball for a number of phases. Coventry had kicked from the back of a maul but Lane returned wirth interest to find good ground. Lennon and Sharp got the move starting before Robling exchanged passes with Hutler then played in Huw Worthington for the score which Sharp converted.

But back came Coventry with two tries either side of a missed Fenner penalty. Knox went over for a second having held off the Blues defence down the right wing before fullback David Halaifonua was played in. Fenner converted both to give the visitors a 14-35 lead.

Bedford never give up though and they exerted pressure as the half drew to a close. A fantastic grubber form Sharp saw Hutler scoring beside the posts before Mark Flanagan stretched over the line following excellent build up play from Ed Taylor, Ben Cooper, Sean McCarthy and Jacob Fields. Sharp converted both to make it 28-35 at the interval.

The second half didn’t let up as Lane created space with a brilliant dancing run in the opening seconds and as the ball went wide to the dangerous Hutler he chipped ahead only to be body-checked Pete White as the scrum-half was rightfully sent to the bin.

Bedford then took full advantage as man mountain Jarad Williams was drive over and Sharp’s conversion in off the post to level the scores.

Sharp’s 50th-minute penalty put the Blues ahead for the first time and they put daylight between the two of them when Lane brilliant fended off an attempted tackler and raced over half the pitch to score the try of the game four minutes later, with Sharp’s conversion making it 45-35.

Replacement Matt Worley put in a brilliant to deny Junior Bulumakau just past the hour, but James Gibbons was driven over moments later for a converted score to close the gap to three point.

With 10 minutes to go the visitors retook the lead when a lovely missed pass allowed Ben Nutley to gallop over for an unconverted try.

More great work by Lane was frustrated by a knock-on, but the Blues seized the initiative back with a minute of normal time left as Sharp’s second penalty nudged them a point ahead.

Coventry must have thought they’d won it when Nutley forced his way over for his second from close range in the second minute of injury time as Will Maisey’s conversion attempt drifted wide.

However, Bedford were not to be denied and after twice seeing catch-and-drive moves repelled, the ball was spread wide for Hutler to charge over for the winning try as Goldington Road erupted, as Sharp’s final conversion rebounding off the near post mattered not.

Bedford Blues: 15. Rich Lane, 14. Ryan Hutler, 13. Lewis Robling,  12. Chris Czekaj, 11. Pat Tapley, 10. Jake Sharp, 9. James Lennon; 1. Sean McCarthy, 2. Jacob Fields, 3. Ben Cooper, 4. Ed Taylor, 5. Mark Flanagan (c), 6. Justin Blanchet, 7. Huw Worthington,8. Jarad Williams

Replacements: 16. Charlie Clare, 17. Toby Trinder, 18. Alex Penny, 19. Will Carrick-Smith, 20. Josh Buggea, 21. Joe Green, 22. Matt Worley

Coventry: 15. David Halaifonua, 14. Andy Bulumakau, 13. Rob Knox, 12. Heath Stevens, 11. Junior Bulumakau, 10. Tony Fenner, 9. Pete White; 1. James Gibbons, 2. Scott Tolmie, 3. Phil Boulton (c), 4. Tom Jubb, 5. George Oram, 6. Dan Faleafa, 7. Ben Nutley, 8. Adam Peters.

Replacements: 16. Darren Dawidiuk, 17. Charlie Beech, 18. Josh McNulty, 19. Ben Adams, 20. Latu Makaafi, 21. Tom Kessell, 22. Will Maisey

Referee: J P Doyle

Attendance: 2787

Huge thanks to Mark Wood for covering the second half - see more of Nigel Rudgard's pictures HERE

Next Home Match

Friday 1st March
1st XV Championship
Goldington Road
Kick-Off
7.45pm

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Photography

See more pictures courtesy of Nigel Rudgard at

frontrow.photium.com