Saturday 3 November 2012 – 3.00pm
Goldington Road, Bedford
RFU Championship #8
With an 11-point lead after more than a third of the season, the Falcons should be well on the way to top spot in the Championship now after a win away to Bedford, the team that look most likely to challenge us for the league title.
The Blues were by far the best team to take on the Falcons this season, as the result suggests, and on another day could well have won the game had Jimmy Gopperth’s boot not been on target for most of the second half. However, after what should be our hardest game of the regular season, we have 38 points out of 40 and have won a perfect 10 of our first 10 games under Dean Richards.
Bedford showed themselves to be a very good attacking team and deserved their two tries, they have quite a set of backs, certainly in a different class to what Rotherham brought to KP last week. They should do well in the league this season and it would be no surprise were we to meet them in the play-off final come May.
I certainly wouldn’t mind another trip to Goldington Road, which like Scottish and Moseley’s grounds is a proper rugby setting with a nice history-filled bar and a friendly crowd, though with a louder crowd than the previous two I mentioned. Bedford is a nice town too and the Three Cups was a lovely pub for a pre-match beer and some banter.
The Cricketers looked absolutely rammed at about 2.15pm though, as expected, but it looked a canny boozer so that’s probably why.
On the pitch, the slope did seem to have an impact on the play with a lot more time spent on the lower side, indeed both of the Falcons’ tries came in the trough in front of the main stand. There doesn’t seem to be much of a slope between the ends however, even if all tries were scored at the far end from the clubhouse.
The slope certainly adds to the character of the ground though.
The Falcons’ forwards were on top for most of the game I thought, Richard Mayhew in particular performing strongly along with Jonny Golding. The backs are continuing to struggle – Tane Tu’ipulotu and Tom Catterick were lively but the others among the back five weren’t too hot. I’m not really sure what Alex Crockett is bringing to the team, but Jamie Helleur had a couple of good runs when he came on later.
6-20 up at half-time, one might have expected the Falcons to press on and get more points in the second period but Bedford were the better team after the interval and it was only the Falcons’ hearty defence that restricted the hosts to two tries. A couple more penalties and a rare drop-goal from Gopperth kept us in the lead and left the Blues without a bonus point. Joel Hodgson, a lively replacement later on, almost got a third try but could not ground the ball.
I would imagine most Falcons fans really enjoyed yesterday’s game, not least since it was closer and more competitive than a lot of games we have had so far. It will have been good to keep the team on their toes too, ahead of what could be another top-of-the-table clash this Friday against Nottingham, should the Midlanders beat Bristol today.
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