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Two tries from skipper Jordon Poole and 19 points from Pat Pellegrini fired Coventry Rugby to a 19-34 win at Bedford.

Cov had the bonus point secure before half-time, then battled their way through deteriorating weather conditions and a seven-minute spell with two forwards in the sin bin to register a third five-point return in a row.

As a result of their sixth consecutive win over Bedford, the blue-and-whites enter a three-week January break at the top of the Championship for the first time not only this season, but also since exiting English rugby’s top flight in 1988.

Both sides served early notice of attacking intent and it was Bedford that seemed certain to strike first until a superb Will Rigg cover tackle denied Sean French with the line beckoning.

It was therefore the visitors that broke the deadlock when Pellegrini jinked over from close range after Tiki Nayalo pinched a turnover on halfway and slipped a pass to Poole who raced 40 metres to the shadow of Bedford’s posts.

After Cov’s no.10 added the extras, the hosts quickly struck back when their well-oiled driving lineout powered no.8 Cameron King over for an unconverted try.

The visitors extended their advantage at the end of the opening quarter when their half-backs combined to switch attacking direction and leave former Blue Ryan Hutler to ghost through a gap for his eleventh try of the season, which Pellegrini again upgraded.

And Cov were soon 16 points clear when captain Poole grabbed his first touchdown of the afternoon after breaking from a driving maul for a try which his fly half converted.

The Blues struck back with a replica driving lineout manoeuvre soon after the half-hour mark, again finished by King and this time also improved by a fine kick from former Cov favourite Will Maisey.

As the visitors pressed hard Bedford lost scrum half Alex Day to the sin bin after conceding a string of penalties in their own half, and Cov took advantage of their numerical superiority to batter the home line until Poole went over for his second score.

Vili Nairau carries against Bedford (Image: John Coles)

Pellegrini’s conversion sent Alex Rae’s team to half-time with a 16-point advantage but now playing in heavy rain they were quickly under pressure following the restart.

Again it was the Blues’ driving lineout that posed a series of difficult questions and after Cov conceded a series of defensive penalties lock Obi Nkwocha received a yellow card.

Worse immediately followed, as the hosts sent play straight back to the corner and when the ensuing lineout maul collapsed referee Andrew Jackson awarded a penalty try and despatched Poole to join Nkwocha on the naughty step.

With Day soon restored to the action, Cov faced an awkward seven-minute spell of 15-against-13 and it seemed momentum was all with Bedford when the prolific Dean Adamson gathered his scrum half’s chip ahead and raced over – only to be recalled for being offside in front of the kick.

Some gritty defence allied with sensible game management ensured the visitors escaped the power-play period without conceding again, and they went into the final quarter holding a 12-point advantage after Pellegrini landed a 35-metre penalty.

With Bedford’s lineout now under pressure and conditions making expansive rugby difficult, Cov then saw out the closing stages with relative comfort and when their Tongan international no.10 kept his 100 per cent record from the tee by landing a second penalty the points were secure.


Bedford Blues: Worley; French, Venter (Grimoldby, 65), Le Bourgeois, Adamson; Maisey, Day (Lennon, 78); Conway (Jack, 53), Fish (Wright, 70), Heffernan (O’Connor, 53); Lockett, Woolford (Williams, 60); Frost (Sylvester, 65), Howard, King (Arthur, 65)

Coventry Rugby: Wilson; Hutler, Betteridge, Rigg, Martin; Pellegrini, Chudley; Chilvers (Southworth, 65), Poole (Biggs, 53-60), Nairau (Salt, 40-65); Tyas (Anstey, 58), Nkwocha; Ryan (Ball, 63), Kvesic, Nayalo.

Unused Replacements: Bartlett, Lane, James

Referee: Andrew Jackson

Half-time: Bedford Blues 12-28 Coventry Rugby


Bedford Blues:

Tries: King (11) (33) Penalty Try (49)

Cons: Maisey (33)


Coventry Rugby:

Tries: Pellegrini (3), Hutler (20), Poole (27) (40)

Cons: Pellegrini (3) (20) (27) (40)

Pens: Pellegrini (59) (79)