A four-try haul from winger Handre Schmidt helped the Bedford Blues seal a 50-15 victory over Leinster in the quarter finals of the British & Irish Cup at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon…

Leinster began brightly with the forwards gaining the upper hand in the early exchanges. Jack McGrath and number eight Leo Auva’a were to the fore early on, but Bedford rallied and ex Cambridge winger Handre Schmidt broke the deadlock with a try in the corner in the 15th minute after a fast paced backline move.

Skipper James Pritchard’s conversion attempt fell wide of the posts but the Canadian international made amends with a penalty four minutes later to make it 8-0 to the hosts.

From the re-start Schmidt capitalised on some indecision in the Leinster defence to sprint clear and touched down in the corner, with Pritchard’s two-pointer again falling across the upright.

Though 13 points in arrears Leinster regrouped and an Ian McKinley tackle on big Kiwi number eight Paul Tupai led to a turnover which resulted in McGrath almost touching down close to the Bedford posts, but the St. Mary’s man unluckily spilled the ball. Then in the 35th minute winger Ollie Dodge struck, with Pritchard’s successful kick making it 20-0.

With three minutes to go before the half-time interval Ian Madigan slotted home a penalty after an offside infringement to reduce the arrears at half time to 17 points with the visitors facing an uphill battle to stay in the competition.

A brace of Pritchard penalties on 43 and 46 minutes pushed Bedford into a 26-3 lead. Credit to Leinster who dug in and first Keating and then Eamonn Sheridan punched holes through the Bedford defence.

Eventually the spell of pressure was rewarded when Auva’a took a quick tap penalty from 10 metres out and charged over the line on 53 minutes, with Madigan’s conversion successful, to reduce the deficit to 16 points.

The fightback was short-lived though when Schmidt completed his hat-trick scoring under the posts on the hour mark, with Pritchard adding the conversion, to make it 33-10 before Schmidt added his fourth try on 64 minutes, with Bedford skipper Pritchard again converting, as the hosts pulled clear.

A late Auva’a try, who displayed great strength to break clear and score with six minutes to go, added some consolation for the visitors, though Pritchard added his seventh successful kick on an overcast afternoon in Bedfordshire.

Leinster finished their B&I Cup campaign on a further disappointing note when substitute Edd Thrower intercepted what looked to be a scoring pass for Leinster to sprint the length of the field in injury time, with Pritchard’s conversion pushing Bedford to the half century mark.

REFEREE: David Jones (WRU)