NEWCASTLE FALCONS will be at home to Leinster in the British and Irish Cup final on Friday, May 17 following their 18-15 win in Saturday’s semifinal at Bedford.

The Falcons led 18-3 with six minutes to go, but Bedford scored two late tries to bring about a dramatic finish.

The hosts dominated the first ten minutes but fly-half Myles Dorian sent a penalty left of the posts and he hit an upright with his second attempt midway through the half.

A Jimmy Gopperth penalty from the touchline brushed past the far post on the half hour but he was successful with two more attempts before half-time.

Straight after the interval prop Jonny Golding crashed over from close range after Gopperth broke clear and brushed off three tackles. His conversion made it 13-0.

After a try-saving tackle from Alex Tait on 57 minutes Bedford skipper Darren Fox was sin-binned for killing the ball, but replacement fly half Jake Sharp reduced the deficit to 13-3 with ten minutes left.

The Falcons seemed to have sealed victory when winger Noah Cato caught the ball from a poor 22 restart to sprint in for a try, but after being on the field for five seconds replacement scrum half Jordi Pasqualin was sent to the bin for holding back a Bedford player.

Bedford winger James Stephenson raced in after 78 minutes and in injury time Mark Howard finished off a sweeping attack in the corner.

Blaydon ended their National One programme with a 24-24 draw in a scrappy game at home to Macclesfield, who were penalised three times near the line in the first five minutes.

The referee warned them the next offence would result in a penalty try, but Andrew Baggett was unaware of that and kicked the next penalty to the wing, where Tom Jeffery caught it and scored.

The conversion into the wind failed, whereas a simple conversion from under the posts for a penalty try could have made a difference.

Blaydon continued to dominate until they collected a high ball and threw out a pass which resulted in a 50-metre interception try.

Further tries were exchanged with No 8 Gavin Jones completing a catch-anddrive for Blaydon and centre Charles Incledon scoring on his final appearance.

They trailed 19-17 at halftime but went back in front through a converted try by lock Chris Wearmouth and the four-try bonus assured them of a third-place finish.

Macclesfield levelled with 20 minutes left and it took a trysaving tackle by full back Jamie Guy to prevent them winning.

Prop James Hallam had an excellent game for Blaydon, who have discovered that he is not eligible for tomorrow evening’s Durham Cup final at home to Darlington Mowden Park because of a tenminute appearance for Newcastle Falcons in the British and Irish Cup.

“We have accepted the county’s ruling on this, but suggested to them that they re-write their rule book because it was written about 50 years ago,” said Blaydon secretary Jim Huxley.

Robbie Kalbraier is expected to return against his former club as Blaydon field a strong side for the 7.15 kick-off in an attempt to complete a clean sweep of all four county cups.

Mowden secured third place in National Two North by winning their final game 54-24 at home to Preston Grasshoppers in front of more than 1,000 fans at The Northern Echo Arena.

In avenging a 34-0 defeat at Preston in the first match of the season, Mowden blew their visitors away in the first half and led 33-7 at the interval.

Winger Chris McTurk scored a hat-trick to take his season’s tally to 26 and Grant Connon gathered 19 points from a try and seven conversions.

The other tries came from Callum McKenzie, Henry Robinson, Andrew Tonkin and Cameron Mitchell.

Blaydon and Mowden players will make up the bulk of the Durham team for the opening County Championship match against Lancashire at Hartlepool Rovers on Saturday.

Bishop Auckland clinched the D and N division two title with a 43-0 home win against Whitley Bay Rockcliff in front of a crowd of 300. They will complete the season by visiting in the Durham Junior Cup final on May 11.