BEDFORD BLUES 38 DONCASTER KNIGHTS 26
Blues climbed back up to third in the Championship table thanks to a victory which relegated opponents Doncaster.
Mike Rayer’s side bounced back from Saturday’s disappointing home defeat to Leeds Carnegie by seeing off the league’s bottom club at Goldington Road, running in six tries.
With only the weekend’s trip to Moseley left to play in the regular season, Blues’ hopes of earning a play-off spot are firmly in their own hands.
Doomed Knights needed a four try bonus point win to avoid the drop and put in a dogged performance, but it wasn’t quite enough in a game which was rearranged for this evening following cancellation due to snow last month.
The match started in a fiery fashion with some handbags after just four minutes.
More than one punch was thrown in an unnecessary fracas but when play resumed the more beautiful aspects of the game were on display thanks to a marauding run from Ollie Dodge which handed Blues excellent field position.
They wasted no time in making it count either as Scott Spurling was swiftly forced over the line via a maul, handing Bedford a 7-0 lead after Myles Dorrian added the extras.
Dodge was rewarded for his fine run in the build-up to the first try by diving over for the second himself, which followed a jinxing run of real quality from James Short.
Dorrian converted once again and with just 20 minutes on the clock it looked like Doncaster would be in for a long evening.
They responded well though and skipper Matt Challinor barged his way over to put his side on the board shortly after Knights had opted not to pass to Tyson Lewis who appeared to be in a much healthier position.
Dougie Flockhart converted to give his side hope but there was a let-off for the visitors when Short fumbled while close to the line.
Doncaster’s Chris Hallam was then binned for hands in the ruck, stopping his side’s good spell in its tracks.
Blues made the numerical advantage count with two tries to end the half, the third arriving through Spurling who showed a fine turn of pace to dash over for his second score underneath the posts.
Dorrian did the necessary again and Dodge then helped himself to his second try as well, once again under the posts and once again converted.
Knights, to their credit, refused to lie down and some good early pressure at the start of the second half led to their total being increased via a penalty try as Adam Kettle attempted to find the line.
The visitors, whose season was slipping away, looked strong and they added a third try when the quick Lewis handed off to Dante Mama who sped away to score close to the corner.
Flockhart converted from out wide and suddenly, the score was back to 28-21.
Doncaster were playing with a drive which belied their lowly position, but their spirits were sapped again when Neil Cochrane drove over for Blues’ fifth try following a line-out.
Dorrian missed the extras this time, but a wonderful try then followed.
After chasing onto his own chipped kick, Short demonstrated electric pace to burst clear of Knights bodies and dive over the line.
Blues looked to have opened up another unassailable gap, but Knights showed more resolve and responded again when Flockhart teed up Connor Braid who darted over in the corner.
It was too little, too late though and Doncaster must now prepare for the third tier of English rugby, while Blues have one foot in the play-offs.