Newcastle Falcons promoted into Aviva Premiership

Former Aviva Premiership Rugby Club Newcastle Falcons have been re-instated into the Premiership after they beat Bedford in the play offs.

Newcastle Falcons were dropped into the RFU Championship at the end of last season but have won their way back into the Premiership.

Newcastle beat Bedford 31-24 in their Championship rugby union play-off second leg which means that they won 49-33 on aggregate and are promoted to the Premiership

Bedford wnt into the second leg with a nine-point deficit to overturn, and despite producing a spirited display against the league’s top placed team, they succumbed to two Falcons’ tries to leave them 16 points behind at the final whistle.

For Dean Richards’ Newcastle Falcons, it represents an immediate return to the Premiership for a side who have dominated the Championship this season, only losing two of their 26 games.

Bedford Director of Rugby Mike Rayer had reiterated before the game how important it was for Bedford to get the first score, but a Jimmy Gopperth penalty in the sixth minute, after Gregor Gillanders strayed offside, meant that it was Newcastle who took a 3-0 lead.

However, Bedford were immediately given a chance to draw level on the night, and Jake Sharp made no mistake with his first chance at a straight penalty from 35 yards.

Bedford continued to keep the ball in hand, and when Paul Tupai’s drive was picked up in an offside position by Gopperth, Sharp punished his opposite fly half, giving the Blues a 6-3 lead after 15 minutes.

Sharp narrowed the lead even further after 19 minutes, when he kicked another long-range penalty, to leave the aggregate score at 21-18, with tie in the balance.

Lack of discipline continued to cost both teams, as an infringement at a Newcastle scrum in the Bedford 22 left Gopperth with a simple kick to restore the aggregate lead to six points.

It took over 100 minutes of RFU Championship Final rugby for the first try to come, but when it did, it did so in style.

In the twelfth phase of a Newcastle breakaway, the ball was fed to Ryan Shortland on the left wing, whose flying touchdown in the corner gave the Falcons the lead on the night.

A well-struck Sharp drop goal and another soft penalty for Gopperth kept the aggregate lead at 10 points at the half hour mark, before ill discipline in Newcastle’s own half gave Sharp a chance to extend his tally to 15 points for the evening, which he took.

Both sides seemed far more comfortable to play with ball in hand, with indiscipline continuing to cost vital points, as first Sharp, then Gopperth, notched successful penalty attempts at the close of the first half.

Sharp continued to influence the game in a positive way for Bedford after the break, and it was his breakaway and kick that led to another three points for the Blues, bringing the aggregate deficit to only five points.

However, Newcastle were determined to make their own attacks count, and when quick ball followed a sustained spell of Falcons’ pressure, full back Alex Tait crossed the whitewash for their second try of the game.

Gopperth extended the aggregate lead to 13 points after 57 minutes when Bedford were punished for coming in at the side of a Falcons’ ruck.

Bedford continued to pressure and nearly added a try to their seven penalties, when a Noah Cato hand stopped Gregor Gillanders from receiving the ball with five meters of grass between him and the tryline.

However, the play was pulled back for a previous infringement and Sharp maintained his perfect record from the tee, to bring them back within a point on the night, with 20 minutes remaining.

Newcastle’s dominance in the scrum had been a constant over both legs of the final, and it proved so again after 67 minutes, when Gopperth secured Falcons’ promotion with his sixth successful penalty of the night.

Gopperth comple

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