Bedford Blues open up nine-point advantage over Nottingham in RFU Championship play-off
Last Updated: 05/05/13 1:34pm
London Welsh's survival hopes were given a slight boost after Bedford Blues beat Nottingham 26-17 in the first leg of their RFU Championship semi-final.
The Blues are the only one of the four play-off sides that do not meet the criteria for promotion to the Premiership - and can therefore save Welsh from the drop.
And tries from Mark Atkinson and Ben Ransom and 16 points from the boot of Myles Dorrian means that the Blues head to Meadow Lane with a nine-point advantage.
The Blues have been beaten semi-finalists for the past three seasons, losing to the eventual champions - London Welsh, Worcester and Exeter - on each occasion.
However they remain on course for a first final appearance with an impressive win.
Nottingham, though, have their sights set on the Premiership and a late penalty try means they remain in the hunt. James Arlidge weighed in with a try, a penalty and two conversions for a personal haul of 12 points.
The second leg will be played at Meadow Lane on Friday, with the winners facing either Newcastle or Leeds.
RFU Championship play-offs 2012/13
Newcastle Falcons will face the Bedford Blues in the Championship play-off final following a 15-6 win over Leeds.
Nottingham will welcome back Tim Streather as they look to overturn a nine-point deficit against Bedford.
Leeds Carnegie coach Diccon Edwards has praised his players after they upset the odds to beat Newcastle 24-19.