Bedford Blues secured a nail-biting 22-21 victory over Yorkshire Carnegie courtesy of a last second penalty from the boot of the heroic Steffan Jones.
Bedford found themselves trailing 21-0 in the 60th minute, but tries from Camillo Parilli-Ocampo, Steffan Jones and George Perkins set the stage for the Welsh man to send the ball over the posts with the last kick of the game.
Bedford may have walked away with the victory but it was the visitors who took control of the match for the biggest part as they made themselves known early on.
The Carnegies opened the scoring in the 14th minute as they were awarded a penalty following a collapsed scrum which Leonard kicked to touch. This allowed the visitors to set up a dangerous driving maul which sent Lee Imiolek over the line before Leonard converted.
Bedford didn’t let their heads drop as they too were involved in some excellent attacking opportunities - but the Carnegies defence held their ground and it looked virtually impossible for the Blues to break them down.
The Carnegies had the opportunity to get a second try just five minutes later when Leonard offloaded the ball to Imiolek who was in space but the forward spilt the ball just inches ahead of the line.
Dean Adamson cleared the danger by punting the ball downfield which the winger was unlucky not to latch on to, but he forced the penalty which the Blues sent to touch deep in the corner.
The Blues pack set up a driving maul and piled the pressure on the Carnegies defence before it was illegally brought down by Mike Myerscough, who was shown the yellow card, but Bedford failed to make anything of the lineout which followed the penalty.
Bedford tried to make the extra man count but the Carnegies defence stood solid as they forced a penalty allowing them to clear their lines and regroup before going on the attack.
Bedford were pegged back to their own 5m line just minutes afterwards, and the Carnegies found the space to set up a driving maul close to touch. However, an infringement call made against Buggea saw the visitors awarded a penalty try before Leonard kicked the extra three points, making it 0-14 with 10 minutes of the first half left to play.
Bedford were pinned back many times in the last 10 minutes and Dorrian looked set to clear their lines, but the Carnegies charged down the ball; luckily it bounced over the dead ball zone.
Yorkshire Carnegies defence looked to be exploited late on when they were penalised for infringement in the scrum, awarding the penalty to Bedford which Jones looked set to kick from the halfway line despite the wind blowing against him. Jones’ effort fell just short of the mark and it was met by Leonard who kicked the ball in to touch which was followed by the half-time whistle.
Bedford came out for the second half knowing full well they needed to put in a massive shift to turn the game around and they enjoyed the possession early on it but it failed to turn in to anything.
Carnegies stole the ball and went on the attack, passing the ball deep in to the Blues 22 before substitute Joel Hodgson exploited the space in the Blues defence to dot the ball directly under the posts, followed by another Leonard conversion.
Bedford looked in trouble but some efficient attacking waves pumped motivation throughout the team and it looked as if a Blues try was just over the horizon.
Bedford pushed on and in the 61st minute they made the breakthrough. Some constant pressure on the Carnegies backline made the space for Parilli Ocampo who leaped over the line before Dorrian kicked the extras.
The never say die Bedford attitude came out once again as the Blues began to dominate the attacking possession, with many kicks from Dorrian leaving the Carnegies unsettled in their own 22.
The turning point came as Jonah Holmes was sent to the sin bin for killing the ball and Bedford managed to make the extra man count as Steffan Jones received the ball on the far right before squeezing the ball over the line. Myles Dorrian stepped up for the conversion but it bounced back off the upright and it left the score reading 12-21 with only eight minutes left to play.
Yorkshire Carnegies could have extended their lead when they were awarded the penalty but they chose to go for the try to secure the extra bonus instead of going for the posts; a decision they must have instantly regretted as the ball was knocked on in Bedford’s 22.
The scrum that followed saw the ball roll loose and it was Ocampo who picked the ball up and charged in to dangerous territory. It was sent to Perkins who sent a chip over the Carnegies defence which was eagerly chased by Jordan Burns who pounced on the loose ball before offloading it to Perkins who showed a clean pair of heels before grounding the ball just under the posts. Dorrian converted for the extra three points and it made the score line 19-21 with just a few minutes left on the clock.
Carnegie got the possession in the dying minutes off the game and they looked to run down the clock but referee Matthew O’Grady blew for the penalty after they failed to release the ball in the ruck.
This set the stage for the heroic Welshman to set his sights on the posts from around 50 metres out as he stood confidently over the ball before sending it over from a difficult angle to the welcome of roars from all around Goldington Road as the score line changed to 22-21.
There was only a few seconds left on the referees watch but he allowed the restart and Bedford held on to possession to keep their 100 per cent win record at home through yet another fantastic performance from all involved.
Bedford: Steffan Jones, George Perkins, Michael Le Bourgeois, Tom Griffiths (Jake Sharp 62), Dean Adamson (James Pritchard 72), Myles Dorrian, Peter White (Jordan Burns 62), Alex Lundberg (Sam James 63), Charlie Clare, Biyi Alo (Camilo Parilli-Ocampo 51), Harry Wells (Mike Howard 51), Mark Flanagan, Nick Fenton-Wells (C), Josh Buggea, Paul Tupai (Joel Conlon 51).
Yorkshire: Jonah Holmes, Seb Stegmann, Andy Forsyth, Tom Casson (Pete Lucock 31), Christian Georgiou (Joel Hodgson 43), Harry Leonard, Matt Dudman, Lee Imiolek (Charlie Beech 47), Jack Walker (Phil Nilsen 62), Rob O’Donnell, Mike Myerscough, Matt Smith (Tom Ryder 47), Chris Jones (C, Jack Barnard 69), Josh Bainbridge, Ryan Burrows. Replacements not used: Gareth Milasinovich.