Newcastle lead in play-off final

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The Independent Online

Newcastle moved a step closer to a return to the Premiership after claiming an 18-9 lead over Bedford in the first leg of their Championship final.

The New Zealand fly-half Jimmy Gopperth kicked all 18 of his side's points at Goldington Road, hosts Bedford replying with two penalties from Myles Dorrian and one from replacement Jake Sharp.

Bedford drew first blood when Dorrian slotted over a sixth-minute penalty but Newcastle, winners of all three of the meetings between the two sides this season, fought back to lead 12-3 at half-time.