Saturday 27 April 2013 – 3.00pm
Goldington Road, Bedford
British & Irish Cup semi-final
A semi-final means it’s the business end of the season, and while most fans’ attention will rightly be focused on the playoffs against Leeds over the following two weekends, there is of course the British & Irish Cup last four meeting with Bedford tomorrow to consider.
This will be the second of possibly three visits to slopy Goldington Road this season, should both ourselves and the Blues make it to the Championship Final. The winners will host either Munster A or Leinster A in three weeks time to contest the cup, the two Irish reserve sides playing in the other semi-final tonight at Garryowen FC in Dooradoyle. Now there’s a name for a place. Apparently it’s a suburb of Limerick and yes it’s the club that gave the up-and-under its name.
Bedford were the top seeds going into the knockout stages of the cup and were the only side to take the maximum 30 points from their six pool games (we got 29 but two were lopped off for James Goode’s ineligibility in one game). The Blues progressed to the quarter-finals through pool two thus:
13/10/2012 Bedwas (A) W45-23
20/10/2012 Stirling (H) W87-10
08/12/2012 Neath (A) W62-12
15/12/2012 Neath (H) W69-23
12/01/2013 Stirling (A) W24-21
01/02/2013 Bedwas (H) W64-0
While we took apart Nottingham’s reserve team at KP in the quarter-finals, Bedford had an apparently trickier task at home to Llanelli but the latter became the third Welsh side to be dispatched at Goldington Road in 2012/13 (fourth including Cardiff in a pre-season friendly) by a scoreline of 32-18.
This is the second successive season in which Bedford have met Llanelli in this competition, and the Midlanders needed a last-minute try to steal a draw back in December 2011. However, despite Llanelli leading at half-time, Josh Bassett’s brace of tries and the boot of Jake Sharp ensured there would be one all-English semi.
Last season Bedford, Championship semi-finalists for three successive seasons, were not quite so successful in this tournament. Last season, they finished second in pool three behind Leinster A, after following up two early wins with a tight defeat at Melrose and the aforementioned 25-25 draw with Llanelli at home.
In 2010/11, Ulster Ravens topped Bedford’s group after beating the Blues 29-3 at Ravenhill on the opening weekend. London Welsh, who beat Bedford 26-13 at Old Deer Park, were second in pool C.
In between though, Bedford did get to the final but were beaten 17-14 by Bristol at the Memorial Stadium. Their run to the final saw big knockout wins over Leinster A and eventual Championship winners Worcester but the last match in Bristol was a bridge too far for the side that had the competition’s top points-scorer in James Pritchard and best try-scorer in Handre Schmidt in 2010/11.
Bedford’s record at the picturesque Goldington Road this season is formidable. Back in November we won 20-29 there, buy apart from that only Bristol and Leeds have been victorious on the hilly pitch, 6-18 in March and 24-33 two weeks ago respectively. That victory for the Cardigans could have sent us to Bedfordshire in the semi-finals of the playoffs, but Bedford recovered in their final two games against Doncaster and Moseley to ensure their own playoff against Nottingham.
We could though be back in the final.
I was quite interested to see what lineup we would put out tomorrow with the playoffs just around the corner, but there is only one change to the starting team from last week – Michael Mayhew replaces Matt Thompson. Maybe Dean Richards has told the team that were overall pretty bad against Bristol to go out and redeem themselves.
Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Alex Tait, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Michael Mayhew, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 Carlo del Fava, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg .
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 James Hall, 18 Sean Tomes, 19 Ollie Stedman, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 Michael Tait.
Bedford team: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 James Stephenson, 13 Brendan Burke, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 James Short, 10 Myles Dorrian, 9 Luke Baldwin, 1 Darren Fearn, 2 Neil Cochrane, 3 Dan Seal, 4 Mike Howard, 5 Paul Tupai, 6 Gregor Gillanders, 7 Darren Fox (c), 8 Nick Fenton-Wells.
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Phil Boulton, 18 Don Barrell, 19 Tom Armes, 20 Darryl Veenendaal, 21 Jake Sharp, 22 Ollie Dodge.
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