- Falcons looking to secure return to Premiership next season
- Bedford Blues face uphill battle for promotion
Photo: RFU Archive
Newcastle Falcons are in pole position to reclaim their Premiership status at the first attempt having established a nine-point lead from the first leg of the RFU Championship final.
RFU Championship Dream XV fly half Jimmy Gopperth booted all of Newcastle’s points last Thursday as the Falcons won 18-9 at Goldington Road. Myles Dorrian replied with two penalties and replacement kicker Jake Sharp chipped in with another for the Blues, who, in truth, were second best for the majority of the match.
However, Mike Rayer’s men still managed to show glimpses of the attacking rugby that has helped them reach their first-ever final, and heading into Wednesday’s return clash Newcastle are canny enough to know that the job is not done yet.
That said, Bedford Blues have only won at Kingston Park once before in their history and never by the margin required for them to deny the Falcons the silverware and promotion.
To date, their only success at the north-east venue is the 30-23 victory in Courage League Division Two on September 30, 1995.
Overall, Newcastle and Blues have met 16 times in league rugby, the Falcons winning on 11 occasions – three of them this season. They also defeated Bedford at Goldington Road in the semi-finals of the British & Irish Cup.
Perhaps the most remarkable of the recent fixtures between the sides came at Kingston Park in the Premiership season of 1998/99, when Bedford, without an away win all season at that point, held a 23-5 half-time lead only to lose 34-23 after conceding 29 second-half points without reply. Two of the most famous wingers to play the game, Inga Tuigamala (Newcastle) and Rory Underwood (Bedford), both scored a brace of tries for their respective sides that day.
RFU Championship final, 2nd leg
Newcastle Falcons v Bedford Blues, Wednesday, May 29, KO 7.45pm. Live on Sky Sports HD