RFU Championship: Cornish Pirates 65 Bedford Blues 14
Bedford Blues suffered a crushing Championship defeat in west Cornwall as the Cornish Pirates ran riot with nine tries at the Mennaye Field on Sunday.
The Blues looked a million miles away from the side that had beaten Yorkshire Carnegie the previous week against a team who went into the game lying second from bottom of the table.
Bedford looked to be still on the coach in the first half, and they endured a torrid, error-strewn opening 40 minutes from the moment they dropped the kick-off.
There were handling errors aplenty, and their cause was not helped as they were repeatedly penalised at scrum time by referee Simon Harding, which gave the Pirates the platform to secure the try-scoring bonus point inside the first 35 minutes.
The Cornishmen also had former Blues fly-half Kieran Hallett in excellent kicking form, as he slotted seven conversions and two penalties for a personal 20-point haul to earn himself the man-of-the-match award.
The Pirates squandered two try-scoring chances in the opening 60 seconds, while Hallett missed a kickable penalty, but they then bagged four tries in a devastating 26-minute period.
Exeter Chiefs Academy full-back Max Bodilly grabbed the first after going through a gap; scrum-half Tom Kessell - making his 100th appearance for the Pirates - notched the second off the back of a five-metre scrum; and some lovely inter-passing provided further tries for winger Kieran Goss and centre Alex Dancer.
Hallett converted all four, added two penalties, and the Pirates were out of sight at 34-0 at the break.
Bedford started the second half looking much more like their usual selves, but a period of sustained pressure on the home line saw Goss intercept a pass and run 95 metres to score his second try of the game.
Blues’ director of rugby Mike Rayer brought on all seven replacements in the space of four minutes, and the Pirates lost hooker Rob Elloway to a yellow card for persistent infringement, and that saw the game go to uncontested scrums for 10 minutes.
Winger Craig Holland scored Pirates’ sixth try, improved by Hallett, sandwiched in between two for Bedford, through Ollie Dodge, and skipper Paul Tupai from a catch-and-drive, with both converted by fly-half Jake Sharp, to leave the Blues 46-14 down but still believing they could get a four-try bonus point out of the game with 13 minutes remaining.
However, that adventure left gaps, which the Pirates’ replacements ruthlessly exploited, with Rheon James, Stuart Townsend and Laurence May all adding further touchdowns, with two converted by Hallett, to leave the Blues staring at a humiliating final scoreline.
Cornish Pirates: M Bodilly, K Goss (L May 67), T Riley (R James 67), A Dancer, C Holland, K Hallett, T Kessell (S Townsend 62), P Andrew (J Andrew 60), T Channon (R Elloway 50), A Paver, W Carrick Smith (W Graulich 67), D Barry (W Graulich 60-62), C Morgan (capt), J Atkinson, M Bolwell (J Conlon 62).
Tries: Bodilly, Kessell, Goss (2), Dancer, Holland, James, Townsend, May; Cons: Hallett (7); Pens: Hallett (2).
Bedford Blues: J Wigglesworth, P Tapley, O Dodge, V Hakalo, D Adamson (H Staff 50), J Sharp, D Veenendaal (P White 53), C Parilli-Ocampo (T Williams 50), C Clare (TJ Harris 53), P Boulton, M Howard, B Gulliver (H Wells 50), P Tupai (capt), J Buggea (J Blanchet 53), J Vandermolen (H Thompson-Stringer 50).
Tries: Dodge, Tupai; Cons: Sharp (2).
Yellow card: Pirates: Elloway 54.
Referee: Simon Harding (RFU).