- Both home sides victorious in first legs
- Nottingham v Bedford return fixture to be streamed via @RFUChampionship
Photo: RFU Archive
It is still all to play for in the RFU Championship play-offs after two narrow victories for the home sides in the first of the two-legged semi-finals.
Bedford Blues will take a nine-point advantage to Meadow Lane on Friday night after a 26-17 win over Nottingham in the first encounter at Goldington Road, while a dramatic try with the last play of the game earned Leeds Carnegie a surprise 24-19 win over promotion favourites Newcastle Falcons.
A try, conversion and penalty for Nottingham from James Arlidge had given the Green and Whites a 10-9 half-time lead.
But second-half tries from Mark Atkinson and Ben Ransom along with two conversions and four penalties from fly half Myles Dorrian put Blues in the driving seat going into Friday’s eagerly anticipated return match (KO 20:00).
A repeat of the result from the corresponding fixture in the regular season would see Nottingham fall just short of a first-ever final appearance.
On that occasion a man-of-the-match display from RPA Player of the Year shortlisted nominee, Tim Streather, helped Nottingham to a 25-17 victory in front of the Sky Sports cameras and a 2,000+ crowd.
Bedford won 28-26 on their previous visit to Meadow Lane on the opening day of the 2011/12 season.
Following the success of last Friday’s venture, the second leg of the tie will be streamed live via @RFUChampionship.
Meanwhile, Newcastle need to overturn a five-point deficit if they are to stay on course for an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership.
Ryan Burrows was Leeds’s hero after his last-gasp score inflicted only a second league defeat of the season on a below-par Falcons outfit.
Burrows’ score at a sun-drenched Headingley Carnegie Stadium added to a try from another RPA Player of the Year nominee, Steve McColl, plus 14 points from the boot of Joe Ford saw Leeds record only their second home win over Newcastle in 12 attempts.
Newcastle’s points came from the kicking of Leinster-bound Jimmy Gopperth and an opportunist try from Ally Hogg.
The Falcons racked up a half-century of points against Leeds on the Yorkshire side’s last visit to Kingston Park back in September. But Leeds are a much improved outfit seven months down the line and go into the clash on the back of a seven-game winning run.
The Newcastle Falcons v Leeds Carnegie tie on Sunday, May 12 will once again be screened live by Sky Sports (KO 13:15).