13-man Pirates lose out to final kick of the match
Bedford Blues 26 Cornish Pirates 25
A dramatic converted try nine minutes into second half stoppage time completed a famous comeback for Bedford Blues as they edged past the Cornish Pirates to win this Championship play-off with the final kick of the game, writes Dick Straughan.
James Pritchard's steady nerve and accurate boot added the match winning score to Brendan Burke's late try as the Pirates, with two men in the sin-bin, desperately defended their own line.
But the result was harsh on the Cornish Pirates who led 25-6 at half-time through tries from Matt Evans, Tom Kessell and Andrew Suniula.
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A dominant display from the Cornish side denied Bedford any meaningful involvement in the game as they struggled to put any pressure on the Pirates line, leaving the home crowd restless.
The game however turned on 47 minutes as Blues flanker Alex Rae clearly knocked on twice before grounding the ball over the Pirates line and being awarded a try to the clear astonishment of the Pirates team.
Two Pritchard penalties, following the departure of the injured Referee Mike Tutty, chipped away at the Pirates advantage and during a prolonged period of stoppage time the pressure told with both Carl Rimmer and Alan Paver sin-binned.
Then with the final play of the game Burke scampered over for a second home try and Pritchard sealed a memorable but controversial win for the Blues.
Pritchard, Dodge, Vass, Staff (Burke 55), Bassett, Sharp (Lennard 67), Baldwin (Veenendaal 60); Walsh, Cochrane, Cooper (Reeves 49), Tomes (Harding 49), Tupai, Rae, Fox, Fisher (Barrell 49)
Replacement (not used) - Locke
Tries – Rae, Burke
Cons – Pritchard (2)
Pens - Pritchard (4)
Cook, Kessell, Pointer, Suniula, Evans, Thomas, Cattle (capt); Storer (Rimmer 55, sin-bin 79-80+9), Ward, Paver (sin bin 80+7), Smith (Myerscough 67), Nimmo, Morgan, Burgess, Maidment (Brits 80+1)
Replacements (not used) – Elloway, Marriott, Penberthy, McAtee
Tries – Evans, Suniula, Kessell
Cons – Cook (2)
Pens – Cook (2)
Yellow Cards – Paver, Rimmer
Referee – M.Tutty (RFU) replaced by R.Kelly (RFU) 55mins.
Attendance – 3,377