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Championship play-off final: Newcastle secure first-leg advantage at Bedford Blues
- Richards refusing to count chickens
- Pleased for the players
- Newcastle back in the Premiership
- Rayer proud of team
Newcastle Falcons moved one step closer to a swift return to the Aviva Premiership following an 18-9 Championship play-off final first leg success at the Bedford Blues.
The Falcons, who edged past Leeds Carnegie in the semi-finals, turned to Leinster-bound fly-half Jimmy Gopperth to help kick them to victory at Goldington Road.
It was the Blues who got their noses in front with Myles Dorrian slotting home the opening penalty of the half, but it was all Newcastle for the remainder of the half.
New Zealander Gopperth was perfect with the boot in the opening 40 minutes, kicking four penalties from four attempts to give the visitors a comfortable-looking 12-3 advantage.
Two more Gopperth three-pointers extended the Falcons' lead before Bedford attempted to make life a little easier in the return leg when Dorrian kicked his second penalty of the contest.
Gopperth surprisingly missed a penalty in the 72nd minute, his first miss from seven attempts, and Newcastle's lead was cut to nine points when Jake Sharp converted a penalty.
Bedford finished the game in the ascendency and although the home side were pressing for what could have been a crucial try they opted to go for the posts after Newcastle were penalised for not releasing, a penalty which Sharp missed.
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