Championship: Newcastle to play Bedford for a place in Aviva Premiership
Last Updated: 13/05/13 5:10am
Newcastle Falcons will face the Bedford Blues in the Championship play-off final following a 15-6 win and 34-30 aggregate triumph over Leeds Carnegie at Kingston Park.
The Falcons were a much-improved team from that which suffered a 24-19 loss to Leeds on Bank Holiday Monday, with their pack laying the platform for excellent field position.
Leeds were the first team with an attempt at points, but Joe Ford's drop-goal attempt was short and wide.
The Falcons responded positively and back-to-back penalties from Jimmy Gopperth gave the home team a 6-0 lead and a one-point advantage on aggregate.
Although Gopperth pushed his next attempt wide of the near post he converted the subsequent two in the 26th and 33rd minutes for a 12-0 lead.
Signs of life
Ford reduced the arrears as Leeds finally showed signs of life, but they squandered the chance to score again when Ford missed with a penalty on the stroke of half time.
Leeds did pull another three points back thanks to Ford's drop-goal, but Newcastle responded ten minutes later through New Zealander Gopperth's successful penalty.
Newcastle could have put the game beyond Leeds although the usually reliable Gopperth missed his next two penalties, points that could have put the visitors more than a converted try behind.
Leeds' defence somehow managed to prevent Newcastle from scoring any more points, but without troubling the scoreboard themselves they will still be in the Championship next season.
RFU Championship play-offs 2012/13
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.
Leeds Carnegie defeated Newcastle Falcons 24-19 in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.