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FULL TIME: Nottingham Rugby 25 Bedford 27

NOTTINGHAM Rugby head coach Martin Haag insists heads should be held high following Saturday's 93rd  minute loss to Bedford.

The Blues snatched defeat with the final swing of James Pritchard's boot, converting Ben Ransom's try deep into added time at Goldington Road.

Rather than dwell on the controversy and timing of the full-time whistle, Haag shifted attention onto the three-try first-half performance and long periods of stubborn defence by the Green and Whites in the bonus point loss.

"We will take the positive and look at how we played in first-half which was outstanding," Haag said.

 "Ultimately, you play to the final whistle and fair play to Bedford they piled on the second-half pressure."

The opening 40 minutes, however, were dominated by the Green and Whites.

Fly half James Arlidge gave the visitors the ideal start with an early penalty.

The Japan international was again in the thick of it, helping captain Brent Wilson finish off a stunning attacking move to cross for the opening try of the game.

The Green and Whites made the most of their opportunities before the break, with Dan Montagu going over for his first try for the club since his summer return from Bristol.

A James Pritchard penalty is all Bedford could muster in reply, as Rhys Crane sealed the first half showing with an intercept try.

Cracks, however, began to show as Nottingham defended their 19-point lead playing up the notorious Goldington Road slope.

Darryl Veenendaal gave the hosts an immediate boost when he darted over for a 47th minute try.

Arlidge managed to disrupt Bedford's momentum with a drop goal, but Nottingham's cause took a knock when prop Michael Holford was shown a yellow card.

The Blues made the most of the extra man when they were awarded a penalty try for Nottingham's repeated infringements on the line.

Arlidge missed a prime opportunity to give Nottingham some breathing space late in the game, but missed his penalty attempt.

Pritchard made no such mistake and set up the tense finish with a penalty in the 70th minute.

Bedford relentlessly searched for the winner, attacking in waves as errors continued to creep into Nottingham's game.

While the Green and Whites were spared the killer blow when Ransom knocked on inside the 22 late in the game, he managed to redeem himself deep into added time.

Haag readily concedes there is room for improvement, but also heralded Nottingham's showing against the league high-flyers.  

"There were four points there for the taking, but we can't just look at it as a game that we lost, because we showed that we can push one of the very best teams in this league all the way," Haag said.

Bedford Blues 27 (Veenendaal, Ransom, penalty tries; Pritchard 3 conv; Pritchard 2 pen) d Nottingham Rugby 25 (Wilson, Crane, Montagu tries; Arlidge 2 conv; Arlidge drop goal; Arlidge pen)

Referee: Darren Gamage

Attendance: 2,298


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