Yorkshire Carnegie 38 Bedford Blues 36: Carnegie keep Blues at bay in tense finish

Yorkshire Carnegie's Ollie Stedman takes on the Bedford Blues defence. PIC: Steve Riding

IF Yorkshire Carnegie had failed to win this game, you imagine head coach James Lowes would have found all new levels of incandescence.

He can be famously hot-headed at the best of times and is never afraid to be blunt in his appraisals.

Yorkshire Carnegie's Louis Brown rounds the Bedford Blues cover. PIC: Steve Riding

However, after referee Adam Leal gave a try to Bedford Blues’ Alex Penny with the very last play of a high-scoring contest in the 86th minute, Lowes must have been ready to flip.

Everyone inside Headingley seemed to see the replacement front-row had fumbled when barrelling over the line against the desperate hosts, who were down to 13 men after forwards Jack Whetton and Richard Mayhew had been sin-binned within 60 seconds of each other during a frenetic period of injury-time.

Indeed, the assistant referee signalled such but, after consultations, Leal awarded the try regardless meaning Will Hooley, who was with Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs last term, had a conversion attempt from just inside the right touchline to snatch his side a draw.

The replacement fly-half had already nailed two sublime conversions from wide out on the other side and, in fact, his colleagues actually started celebrating, such was their confidence, as his latest attempt headed towards its target again.

Yorkshire Carnegie's Andy Forsyth goes on the offensive against Bedford Blues. PIC: Steve Riding

Those celebrations, however, were premature; the ball struck the far upright and agonisingly fell just inches the wrong side of the crossbar so Carnegie hung on for a deserved 38-36 victory.

Admittedly, Lowes’ men, at times, did make life hard difficult for themselves along the way.

They had seemingly taken control when forging 38-24 ahead in the 71st minute, hooker Mike Mayhew celebrating an unlikely hat-trick after another highly-effective driving maul, the line-out weapon that created four of Carnegie’s six tries.

However, they struggled with their game-management in the closing stages, gifting position for Chris Czekaj, the Bedford full-back, to glide over with alarming ease from a rudimentary backline shift in the 78th minute, Hooley’s kick setting up a tense finish.

Carnegie should have still closed it out from there but, when in possession on half-way deep into injury-time, they managed to somehow concede a penalty.

To make matters worse, Whetton illegally prevented Bedford restarting play quickly, so he received a yellow card, Richard Mayhew following soon after as his side desperately tried to protect their own line.

Minus two key forwards from their pack, it seemed inevitable the visitors – only beaten by leaders Bristol and high-flying Ealing Trailfinders previously this term – would score from the resulting line-out but Carnegie did bravely initially repel the first attack before Penny wheeled away for that contentious score.

Yorkshire Carnegie: McColl; Watkins, Forsyth, Casson (Brown 40), Elder; Lucock, Homer (Green 65); Thomas (Thraves 79), M Mayhew (Newborn 79), Millar-Mills (Beech 70), Whetton, Myerscough (West 39), Beck, Bainbridge (R Mayhew 26), Stedman.

Bedford Blues: Czekaj; Clements-Hill, Lane, Le Bourgeois, Adamson; Sheppard (Hooley 56), Burns (Dickson 56); McCarthy (Tupai 56), Edgson, Cooper (Penny 56), Onojaife, Carrick-Smith, Rae, Adams, Williams.

Referee: Adam Leal.

More from Sport