Thursday 23 May 2013 – 7.45pm
Goldington Road, Bedford
RFU Championship Final 1st leg
“That’ll do!” seemed to be the general opinion among away fans in Bedford last night as the Falcons secured a nine-point lead at half-time in the Championship Final.
It was a night of contrasting styles, as the division’s most powerful forwards took on probably its most dynamic backline, but at the end of an evening of no tries our pack dominated and defence held out and a Premiership place is there for the taking.
Surely only a catastrophic bout of arrogance will see us blow a 9-18 aggregate lead at KP next week.
Of course the tie is not yet won but I can’t see us losing now. The Falcons have now beaten Bedford four times this season, thrice away, and a margin of more than a converted try may be too much for the Blues to make up.
I think it’s the perfect first leg result. Pre-match, on the beer train and in the pub, most people just hoped for a win by eight points or more.
For me, we have the cushion we wanted, but surely not enough of a lead for players and fans to get complacent and then not know how to respond were Bedford to claw back a big lead.
One bad thing to get put of the way, not long after full-time I encountered a Bedford fan whose grapes were so sour they were probably lemons. Following his abuse of the referee, I tried to say that the man in the middle had made some bad calls both ways but that it had been a good game. This bloke was having none of it and walked away refusing to shake my hand. Never had an opposition fan do that before in 15 years.
Of course he was not representative of the rest of the home fans at all, who were otherwise all friendly in the ground and especially in the Cricketers. First time I’ve been in that pub, nice place.
So nice that those of us travelling back to London stayed until closing time and, after a quick stop at the takeaway for chip butties, just about made the 00.42 train back to the Smoke.
Finally asleep about 2.30am and don’t feel too bad this morning. Not drinking on the train back probably helped with that.
Back to the game, I recall one Bedford fan in the bar at half-time telling me that he thought Alex Tait was our best player in the first half, and I think he was probably the pick of our backs all night. Perhaps it’ll only take a couple more good performances to shut his critics up.
Warren Fury has certainly put in some work on his box kicks since Headingley, and I don’t remember ever seeing Oliver Tomazczyk that mobile. Will Welch tackled like a lion, while I haven’t seen Noah Cato that busy for a few games.
Scott MacLeod was my man of the match though. Even though the lineout was hairy, Scott showed good hands and aggression all around the pitch and was often a handy linkman when the backs got lively.
There will still be some nerves at KP on Wednesday, but hopefully a couple of early penalties or a quick try and we can relax a bit.
So far, so good.
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