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FULL TIME: Bedford 26 Nottingham Rugby 17


A disappointing second half from Nottingham means they go into next weekend's second leg against Bedford with a nine-point deficit.

It would have been worse but for an injury time penalty try that cut the home side's advantage.

Playing up the notorious Goldington Road slope in the first half they put in a good performance to lead 10-9, thanks to a try from James Arlidge.

With the advantage of that slope to come they looked favourites at the break.

But they gifted Bedford a try in the opening minute of the second half and Blues never looked like losing the initiative.

A couple of penalties in the first quarter from Myles Dorrian, sandwiched either side of a reply from Arlidge, gave Blues a 6-3 lead.

Nottingham looked strong in the set pieces but it was the home side who dominated possession, although it was a couple of minutes from the break though before they finally stretched their lead with a third penalty from Dorrian

Minutes later though Arlidge charged down an attempted clearance kick from Ben Ransom and showed some impressive footballing skills before touching down.

His conversion gave Nottingham that one-point lead at half-time.

But a similar charge down in the opening minute of the second half gifted Blues a try, Mark Atkinson getting the touch down after exchanging passes with Brendan Burke.

Dorrian's conversion made it 16-10.

From this point on it was Bedford who dominated, although Alex Lewington almost scored in the corner after David Jackson had sent him clear.

A fourth penalty from Dorrian made it 19-10 before Ransom then beat the Nottingham defence to touch down, with Dorrian converting to make it 26-10.

A strong finish from the Green and Whites though saw them grab a lifeline with that late penalty try.

A last gasp drive from the pack, from a close-range lineout, had Bedford in trouble and when Phil Boulton pulled it down he was shown a yellow card. Nottingham opted for a scrum and again had the home defence struggling before the referee ran between the posts to award the penalty try, with Arlidge slotting over the conversion.

And so, after that impressive first half the Green and Whites did well to bring it back to just a nine-point losing margin, and set up what promises to be a tense battle at Meadow Lane this Friday (May 10 - 8pm kick-off).



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