Goldington Road became pink for Ladies Day as Bedford Blues hosted Cornish Pirates in a crucial Championship Cup quarter final second leg encounter. Last weekend’s late comeback at The Mennaye gave the Pirates a one-point lead in the tie, but it was all to play for on the noisy Goldington Road stage! With only one point separating the two teams, it was sure to be a nail-biter, and Bedford Blues took the lead after six minutes due to a foul swoop from Will Maisey’s left boot. The Pirates reacted by launching their first attempt on the Bedford try line, but the Blues’ tenacious defence held them off, much to the chagrin of the tiny but raucous travelling Cornish crowd. Five minutes later, the Blues’ lead was stretched to 6-0, thanks to a spectacular challenge by George Hendy, who forced the penalty, which Maisey easily converted. The first half rapidly became a short affair, with the referee’s whistle punctuating play with repeated penalty calls as both teams fought for consistency. Cornish Pirates scored first, a clever play from a lineout finding Carwyn Penny to dot down, and with Arwel Robson converting the extras, the Pirates lead 7-6. The first forays of the second half were nearly entirely in the Bedford 22, but more outstanding defence kept the Pirates at bay as they sought early points. However, the Pirates ultimately broke through, with captain Nico De Battista scoring in the corner to cut the margin to six points and five in the tie. Will Maisey had a chance from the peg to extend Bedford’s advantage to nine points, but he pulled it right, and it came back to bother him as a substitute. Shae Tucker broke loose from the restart to tip the balance back in the Pirates’ favour. The conversion was missed, and the two teams were tied at 64-64 on aggregate with five minutes remaining. It was high drama on Goldington Road, and while Maisey had undergone a harrowing twenty minutes, he had another chance to make apologies. It was the final kick of the game, and when the penalty sailed wide, the full-time whistle blew on a Pirates victory of 33-32, winning the tie by two points on aggregate! It was a heartbreaking finale to a tense day of rugby in a game that swung both ways, but Bedford Blues will be frustrated not to have capitalised on their chances. Cornish Pirates will play Ealing Trailfinders in the semi-finals after easily defeating Ampthill, leaving Mike Rayer and his Blues squad pondering what may have been!
“I think the rugby gods were with us in that last two or three minutes,” Cattle told BBC Radio Cornwall. “It was a great reaction in the second half, and then when it goes to extra time it’s a bit of a lottery, whose legs can last the longest really,” added Cattle. “It came down to a last kick over two games. Who’d believe it would be a draw after two games to the last kick? “Both teams will say they could have done this or could have done that, but ultimately two teams went at it and I think it was an entertaining day for the neutral.”