Newcastle v Bedford Blues - RFU Championship final match preview

Last Updated: 29/05/13 7:40pm

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Newcastle Falcons will look to seal their immediate return to the top-flight on Wednesday when they tackle Bedford Blues in the second leg of the RFU Championship play-off final.

The Falcons, who were relegated last season, have already put themselves in a strong position after winning the first leg 18-9 at Goldington Road.

However Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards is taking nothing for granted.

He told FalconsTV: "Nine points is nothing. Last season against London Welsh in the semi-final they went something like 17 points down and came right back to only lose by a few, so they are a capable side and can play a good brand of rugby.

"Bedford can certainly surprise us, and if I had lost to a team four times in the same season I would be looking to throw something different in there."

While the Blues might throw in a surprise, Richards has opted to stick with the same XV that ground out victory in the first leg.

He has made an alteration on the bench, though, with Matt Thompson replacing Michael Mayhew as cover for the No 2 shirt.

Underdogs

Bedford boss Mike Rayer has opted to mix things up with six changes to his line-up as he looks to throw caution to the wind.

Ollie Dodge, Josh Bassett, Darryl Veenendaal and Jake Sharp are named in the back division, while Scott Spurling and Dan Seal come into the front row.

Blues coach Matt Volland said: "We know that we head into the game as massive underdogs considering the nine point gap, but the truth is that we have nothing to lose and we can afford to take some risks.

"Last Thursday we saw two teams putting in fantastic defensive displays and snuffing each other out on the rare occasions that opportunities did arise. It was true cup final rugby and unfortunately our penalty count let us down badly.

"We know what we have to do tomorrow night and the first score of the evening is going to be so important. The lads are raring to go and they really want to finish this season on a high."

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Suka Hufanga, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch, 8 Ally Hogg.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Jonny Golding, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 James Hudson, 20 Taiasina Tu'ifua, 21 Rory Lawson, 22 Waisea Luveniyali.

Bedford: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 James Short, 13 Ollie Dodge, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jake Sharp, 9 Darryl Veenendaal, 1 Ricky Reeves, 2 Scott Spurling, 3 Dan Seal, 4 Mike Howard, 5 Paul Tupai, 6 Gregor Gillanders, 7 Darren Fox (c), 8 Nick Fenton-Wells.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Phil Boulton, 18 Ben Gulliver, 19 Don Barrell, 20 Luke Baldwin, 21 Ian Vass, 22 James Pritchard.

You can catch Newcastle take on Bedford on Wednesday on Sky Sports 2 HD, or you can follow the action via our live and interactive behind-the-scenes commentary at skysports.com

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