A brace of tries from Michel Le Bourgeois was enough to help secure a comfortable 38-8 win for Bedford Blues over Plymouth Albion at Goldington Road on Saturday.
Phil Boulton, Steffan Jones and Paul Tupai also scored tries to help the Blues climb back above Cornish Pirates and into the top half of the Greene King IPA Championship table.
Taking on a resurgent Plymouth side, Mike Rayer’s team were in control from minute one and did enough to earn their first victory in three matches.
After previous matches where the Blues fell behind early on, Saturday proved different as the home side were on the ascendancy immediately.
Receiving the kick off and playing up the slope in the first half, Bedford made early runs in the opening minutes. Viliami Hakalo and TJ Harris both made dogged breaks to put the Blues on the front foot and quick ball was the norm for Bedford all afternoon.
With Albion, who are bottom of the table, desperate to continue their good form of recent weeks, they found their defence forced into action early, as ill-discipline cost them.
Declan Cusack and Tom Fidler both were sent to the sin-bin in the opening 15 minutes for committing professional fouls when defending their line.
Bedford, despite their numerical advantage, was unable to turn the pressure into points until a first try of the afternoon after 20 minutes.
A turnover of possession just inside the Bedford half, saw the Blues’ lock forward Harry Wells show superb acceleration to run 45 metres.
The former Leicester Tigers man was unfortunate to be tackled just before the line, but with quick ball and overlaps on either wing; the ball went right to find Le Bourgeois in space to slide over the line.
The ill-discipline of last week was a distant memory for those wearing the Bedford kit, as one of only a few penalties conceded in the first half was converted by Lawrence Rayner to get the visitors on the scoreboard.
Looking to play at a fast tempo, something that is traditional for Bedford teams, a quick line-out started the move that lead to Le Bourgeois’ second score on 32 minutes.
Pritchard took the quick line-out on half way to scrum half Darryl Veenendaal. With Albion’s defence stranded, the ball was swung right where Harris made a strong break to the 22 line.
The ball came back left through the midfield, good passing from Justin Blanchet and Wells created an overlap for Pritchard. The Canadian looked to have nowhere to go, but subtle hands and a clever scissors move allowed Le Bourgeois in again to score his and his side’s second five pointer.
Pritchard, who managed to convert all six of his kicks at goal, ensured Bedford entered half time 14-3 ahead.
A penalty stretched the lead to 14, before the third try arrived after 50 minutes.
Returning captain Nick Fenton-Wells, who was making his first start since October, made a powerful run down the blindside of a ruck. With covering defence looking to escort him into touch, a looped offload infield was collected by prop forward Phil Boulton, who had the easiest of tasks to run a couple of yards to score.
With Plymouth looking down and out, substitute Sam Matavesi gave them a glimmer of hope via scoring off the back of a rolling maul.
The visitors battled to close the deficit further, but that never looked in doubt as Bedford looked in search for the all important fourth try.
Those in attendance had to wait until the 76th minute, but once it did arrive, it was quick play that was the catalyst of the score.
Being awarded penalties in the opponents’ 22, substitute Steffan Jones decided to take a quick tap and go. The decision proved correct as he forced his way over the line with a little help from Pritchard.
With the scoring looked to have been completed, there was still time for another substitute to get his name on the scoresheet.
Fans favourite Paul Tupai was at the back of a rolling maul, and the Samoan forward scored the try that was earned by a forwards pack that was in control throughout.
Bedford will hope to kick on now as they look forward to travelling to eighth place Jersey next weekend.
Bedford: Billy Moss (Camilo Parilli-Ocampo 47), TJ Harris (Charlie Clare 55), Phil Boulton (James Currie 51), Mike Howard (Ben Gulliver 55), Harry Wells, Justin Blanchet, Nick Fenton-Wells (c), Joe Vandermolen (Paul Tupai 67); Darryl Veenendaal, Jake Sharp (Steffan Jones 66), James Pritchard, Viliami Hakalo, Mike Le Bourgeois, Pat Tapley, Baden Kerr.
Replacement not used: Pete White.
T: Michael Le Bourgeois x2, Phil Boulton, Steffan Jones, Paul Tupai. C: James Pritchard x5. P: James Pritchard.
Plymouth Albion: Tom Fidler (Luke Chapman 74), Ted Stagg (Tom Cowan-Dickie 49), Andy Tiedemann (Tom Heard 68), Neale Patrick, Brett Beukeboom Sam Matavesi 49), Rob Langley (Tom Jubb 52), Eoghan Grace, Rhys Oakley; Josh Davies (Ruairi Cushion 49), Declan Cusack (c), Ben Foley, Toby Howley-Berridge, Ben Woods, Jake Henry (Elliott Clements-Hill 63), Lawrence Rayner.
T: Sam Matavesi. P: Lawrence Rayner.
Referee: Simon Harding.
Assistant Referees: Claire Daniels and Darryl Chapman.