Plus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.
Saturday 13 April 2013
Bedford v Leeds Carnegie 15:00 - BBC Three Counties Radio
Jersey v Doncaster 15:00 - BBC Radio Jersey
London Scottish v Bristol 15:00 - BBC Radio Bristol
Plymouth Albion v Newcastle 15:00 - BBC Newcastle
Rotherham Titans v Moseley 15:00
Sunday 14 April 2013
Nottingham v Cornish Pirates 13:15 - SKY Sports & BBC Radio Cornwall
BBC Three Counties Radio
Bedford Blues return to league action this weekend with the highly anticipated clash against Leeds Carnegie at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon.
After seeing off a spirited Llanelli side in the British & Irish Cup quarter final last weekend, the Blues now face three games in a week which will decide whether they can reach the semi-final of the Championship for a fourth season in a row.
Standing in the way on Saturday will be a Leeds side looking to claim a place in the play-offs for themselves. The visitors have won their last four league games and only lost by narrow margins against Doncaster Knights and Newcastle Falcons prior to that.
Bedford have no further injury worries but they will be without the dual registered duo of James Short and Scott Spurling who are representing Saracens in the Melrose Sevens. Meanwhile, Sacha Harding, Ben Gulliver and Henry Staff are all making good progress in their recuperation from injury.
15. Ben Ransom 14. James Stephenson 13. Brendan Burke 12. Mark Atkinson
11. Josh Bassett 10. Jake Sharp 9. Luke Baldwin
1. Darren Fearn 2. Neil Cochrane 3. Dan Seal 4. Mike Howard
5. Paul Tupai 6. Gregor Gillanders 7. Darren Fox (c) 8. Tom Armes
16. Chris Locke, 17. Ben Cooper, 18. Joe Vandermolen 19. Nick Fenton-Wells
20. Darryl Veenendaal, 21. Myles Dorrian, 22. Ollie Dodge
Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards has made three changes to his side for tomorrow’s trip to Bedford.
One change comes in the back line with Joe Ford returning to the fly half position after swapping places with Rory Clegg, who is now amongst the replacements.
Jacob Rowan, who started last week’s win at Moseley on the bench due to illness, returns to the starting line up with Ryan Burrows on the bench. Finally, tight head prop James Currie starts in place of Damien Tussac.
On the bench, Joe Graham replaces Phil Nilsen in the only change from last week.
Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards has been forced to alter his bench
Fly half Rory Clegg has been ruled out by a fitness test on an ankle injury so Christian Georgiou comes into the line up.
15. Stevie McColl 14. Oli Goss 13. Josh Griffin 12. Pete Lucock
11. David Doherty 10. Joe Ford 9. Craig Hampson
1. Lee Imiolek 2. Scott Freer 3. James Currie 4. Calum Green
5. Dominic Barrow 6. Rob Baldwin 7. Chris Walker 8. Jacob Rowan (c)
16. Joe Graham 17. Damien Tussac 18. Ben Harris 19. Pierce Phillips
20. Ryan Burrows 21. James Doherty 22. Christian Georgiou
Michael Hann, Bedford Today:- Blues prepare to fire everything at Leeds
Bedford Blues will fire everything they have got at Leeds Carnegie when they travel to Goldington Road on Saturday, writes Michael Hann.
The Blues face three games in the space of eight days as they take on Leeds, Doncaster and Moseley.
Despite such a hectic schedule, director of rugby Mike Rayer says his players will be giving it everything they’ve got on Saturday.
He said: “We are just going to fire a whole lot into Saturday and then whatever happens after that happens.”
Full Story www.bedfordtoday.co.uk
Yorkshire Evening Post:- Leeds Carnegie planning to give Bedford the blues
Diccon Edwards’ side are only one point behind Bedford, and need to keep winning to stave off the threat of Bristol, who are two points behind and still capable of overhauling them and claiming the final promotion play-off place.
Leeds sustained a lot of pressure in winning at Moseley last week, which Edwards believes will stand them in good stead against Bedford.
He said: “We understand what it feels like now to go through that pressure"
Full Story www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk
BBC Radio Jersey
Jersey and Doncaster Knights go head-to-head at St Peter tomorrow as the battle to avoid relegation from the RFU Championship approaches its climax.
Six points clear in the table going into the game, 11th-placed Jersey know that a win is almost certain to end the debate, with even a losing bonus point for the visitors leaving them nine points adrift with just two games to play.
Doncaster will be seeking their first league win of the season away from home in 10 attempts, knowing that victory will extend the relegation dog-fight into a nerve-wracking final week, when Knights travel to Bedford for Wednesday's game-in-hand before hosting Plymouth next Saturday. Jersey's last game is away to Cornish Pirates.
Jersey Director of Rugby Ben Harvey has recalled several front-line players who missed the Islanders' last league outing against Newcastle on Good Friday through illness or injury.
Nicky Griffiths is back at scrum-half to captain the side, while fellow Welshman Barry Davies has recovered from a hip injury and returns at full-back. Dave McCormack and Max Stelling switch to the bench. In midfield, David Bishop will start after an impressive display off the bench against the Falcons, replacing Mark McCrea who suffered a season-ending ankle injury at Kingston Park.
Jersey's pack sees the return of Guy Thompson and Charlie Walker-Blair in the back-row, while Rob Anderson retains his place at lock following impressive displays against Bristol and Newcastle. Tight calls for Harvey in the front-row see Richard Barrington and Elvis Taione chosen ahead of Sean McCarthy and Dave Felton, who also take up replacement roles along with prop James Gethings and back-row men Kingsley Lang and Joe Buckle.
Ticket sales for the big match have far outstripped any previous league match this season, with hopes the attendance will surpass the 3,648 who saw Jersey play Rosslyn Park in January 2012, the official record for a league match at St Peter.
1 Richard Barrington 2 Elvis Taione 3 Jon Brennan 4 Rob Anderson
5 Dave Markham 6 Charlie Walker-Blair 7 Fred Silcock 8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths (capt) 10 Michael Le Bourgeois 11 Ed Dawson
12 David Bishop 13 Mark Foster 14 James Copsey 15 Barry Davies
Sean McCarthy, Dave Felton, James Gethings, Kingsley Lang
Joe Buckle, Dave McCormack, Max Stelling
Clive Griffiths has named another strong line-up ahead of the Knights biggest game of the season when they face relegation rivals Jersey at St. Peter tomorrow
There is only one change to the back line that impressed last time out against Nottingham Rugby on Good Friday. Centre Will Simpson returning in place of the injured Tom Luke who misses the match with a calf problem. Simpson, who himself only returned from injury last month, is partnered at outside centre by Dante Mama after the Nigerian born flyer scored a fine individual try in the 21-27 defeat against the East Midlands outfit.
Michael Keating, who grabbed most of the plaudits against the Green and Whites, retains his place on the right wing, whilst Will Sharp and Connor Braid make up the back three. Griffiths also sticks with his half back pairing of Joe Bedford and kicker Jamie Lennard.
In the forwards, Doncaster are boosted by the return from injury of long serving and recently re-signed prop Tom Davies, who starts ahead of Knights’ Man of the Match last time out Andy Brown. Davies is partnered in the front row by Rhys Buckley and Tomas Francis.
On the back of signing a new two year contract at the Knights, captain Matt Challinor starts in the second row where he is once again partnered by Dominic Parsons. The back row remains unchanged again with Adam Kettle, Will Hafu and Chris Planchant all starting for the trip to St Peter.
Brown, who deservedly makes the trip, is joined on the bench by recent signing and hopeful debutant tight-head prop Ben Hooper having arrived from Leeds Carnegie last month. Jack Bergmanas also makes his return to the match day squad as a replacement where he is joined by fellow forwards Andy Boyde and Ben Sowery.
Chris Hallam continues his push towards 100 appearances for the club with another appearance from the bench, with Dougie Flockhart named as utility back and replacement kicker.
15. Connor Braid 14. Michael Keating 13. Dante Mama 12. Will Simpson
11. Will Sharp 10. Jamie Lennard 9. Joe Bedford
1. Tom Davies 2. Rhys Buckley 3. Tomas Francis 4. Matt Challinor
5. Dominic Parsons 6. Adam Kettle 7. Will Hafu 8. Chris Planchant
16. Andy Brown 17. Jack Bergmanas 18. Ben Hooper 19. Andy Boyde
20. Ben Sowery 21. Chris Hallam 22. Dougie Flockhart
Liam Hoden, The Star:- Doncaster Knights: Judgement day arrives for Knights
Clive Griffiths admits anything but a win at Jersey on Saturday will relegate his side to National One.
Griffiths says although his side are up against it in this do-or-die clash, they will fight until the bitter end.
“The term ‘massive’ does not do this game justice,” Griffiths said.
“If we lose, then we can start looking around the National One grounds we’ll be visiting next season."
Full Story www.thestar.co.uk
Davies Signs New Deal At Donny
Doncaster Knights have received another major boost ahead of their most important week in recent history with the re-signing of loose-head prop Tom Davies.
Two days prior to ‘Judgement Day’, as Saturday's all important clash with Jersey at St. Peter has been dubbed, Clive Griffiths is delighted to announce Davies has signed a new contract to remain at Castle Park next season.
Home grown front row forward Davies has been one of the leading lights of this Knights side for some years now, highlighted by his selection for the RFU Championship Select XV that faced the Maori All Blacks at Castle Park last November.
The 27-year-old has started 16 of the Knights’ 19 league games this season, leading from the front at the set piece and working tirelessly around the field to become not only one of the most consistent Donny performers, but one of the best Championship loose-heads.
Welshman, Davies said: “I’m delighted to stay at my home club next season, Doncaster means a lot to me and although this campaign hasn’t gone to plan, I am very excited for the future under Clive (Griffiths).
“This season isn’t over yet and I’m confident we can still remain in the Championship, whatever the outcome, but the ambition is promising for next season.
“This Saturday is massive for us, but we go to Jersey confident of getting the result we need and finishing the season strongly.”
BBC Radio Bristol
London Scottish have named their side to face Andy Robinson's Bristol Rugby in the final RFU Championship game of the season at the Richmond Athletic Ground tomorrow
Director of Rugby Simon Amor has made minimal changes from the side that defeated Moseley 20-25 at Billesley Common two weeks ago. Tyler Hotson and Eric Fry return to the starting XV with double try-scorer Lewis Calder retaining his place at openside flanker.
Several of the Scottish matchday squad will be coming up against their former side when Bristol come to town, with prop Mark Irish, flanker Chevvy Pennycook and centre Andy Reay amongst that category in the starting XV. Replacements Josh Thomas Brown and Richard Bolt will also be looking to make an impact against their old team should they appear.
Scottish have named a familiar looking front eight, with Irish, Kwasnicki and Fry forming the front row, Hotson rejoining his familiar second row partner Paul Spivey and Pennycook and Calder lining up on the flanks either side of skipper Mark Bright, who this week headed up a list of players to have re-signed with the Club for next season.
The back line will be sparked by the half back combination of Jamie Stevenson and Phil Godman, with Reay and Oli Grove completing the midfield. Miles Mantella, James Love and Jim Thompson make up the back three.
On the replacements bench, Nic Mayhew, Harry Allen and Colin Quigley will provide the front row options, with Thomas Brown making his return from injury. Young flanker Tommy Spinks, another of those who signed a new deal at the Club this week, will provide back row cover, whilst Bolt and Simon Whatling will be the back line replacements.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge for us against a Bristol side that, certainly since Andy Robinson has taken over, have demonstrated such a dramatic change in the way they play. Bristol sides have traditionally always been very strong up front and their driving maul, in particular, can be a huge threat so we’ll have to be sharp in that area. said: Amor .
The pace at which they play the game and the way they move the ball in attack will always pose some real questions for opposition defences and it will certainly be one of our sternest tests of the season.”
15 Jim Thompson 14 James Love 13 Oli Grove 12 Andy Reay
11 Miles Mantella 10 Phil Godman 9 Jamie Stevenson
1 Mark Irish 2 Adam Kwasnicki 3 Eric Fry 4 Paul Spivey
5 Tyler Hotson 6 Chevvy Pennycook 7 Lewis Calder 8 Mark Bright (c)
16 Nic Mayhew 17 Harry Allen 18 Colin Quigley 19 Josh Thomas Brown
20 Tommy Spinks 21 Richard Bolt 22 Simon Whatling
Jason Hobson returns to the starting line-up for the first time since January ahead of Saturday’s crunch test against London Scottish.
The prop is one of six changes from the side that saw off Plymouth Albion in the last RFU Championship outing.
George Watkins and Fautua Otto are named in the backline, as Jack Tovey and Ben Mosses (shoulder) miss out. Ruki Tipuna captains in the side in the absence of Iain Grieve, who is included on the bench after missing the B&I Cup defeat with a virus.
Director of Rugby Andy Robinson opts for a fresh front row, as Traynor, Johnston and Hobson all come in, while Redford Pennycook switches to blindside flanker.
Bristol revert to a four forwards and three backs split on the replacements bench, with the hugely experienced Roy Winters included in the 22-man squad.
Jon Goodridge; George Watkins, Fautua Otto, Luke Eves, Ryan Edwards
Adrian Jarvis, Ruki Tipuna (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Jason Hobson
Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Redford Pennycook, James Merriman, Marco Mama.
Rhys Lawrence, Bruce Douglas, Roy Winters, Iain Grieve, James Grindal, Tristan Roberts, Jack Tovey.
Hall Signs For Bristol
Newcastle Falcons prop James Hall has completed a move to Bristol Rugby for the 2013-14 season.
The 26-year-old front-rower joined the Falcons from Coventry in the summer of 2010 and has made 50 appearances for the North East club.
Hall’s Falcons debut came against Montpellier at the Stade-Yves-du-Manoir in the Amlin Challenge Cup during the 2010-11 campaign, and the former Waterloo and England Students player featured heavily in the club’s run to the LV= Cup final that season.
“I have enjoyed my time with Newcastle Falcons, but I feel the time is right for me to move on to a new challenge,” said Hall.
“I was delighted to make my 50th appearance against Nottingham at the weekend, and I now want to finish the season as strongly as I can,” he added.
Albion will be hoping for a bumper crowd on Saturday when league leaders Newcastle Falcons visit Brickfields for their final home match of the 2012/13 season
Not only is it a chance for Albion supporters to see their team attempt to become the first side to beat Dean Richards’ outfit this term, but it will also be an opportunity for them to say farewell to a number of club stalwarts who are moving on, including head coach Nat Saumi.
Saumi is to return to Fiji this summer after 10 years at Albion and 17 in West Country rugby.
“I have enjoyed my time here and have made a lot of friends,” said Saumi.“ I just want to thank all the supporters and sponsors for all my years with Plymouth.
“Hopefully, the boys turn up and they give the supporters a good game of rugby to mark our last home match of the season.”
Albion, who pushed Newcastle hard at Kingston Park in November, make three changes to their team that lost to Bristol in their last outing a fortnight ago.
Paul Bailey, who is to retire at the end of the season, is handed the chance to make his final appearance at Brickfields on the wing.
Also coming into the starting line-up are forwards Luke Cowan-Dickie and Rupeni Nasiga. England Under-20 star Cowan-Dickie will start at hooker in place of the injured Jon Vickers, who will be missing his first league game of the season.
Nasiga comes into the second-row with Canadian Sean-Michael Stephen reverting to his favourite back-row slot.
James Phillips and Alex Brown could make their league debuts for Albion after being named among the replacements.
15 Rhodri McAtee 14 Paul Bailey 13 Toby Howley-Berridge 12 Bevon Armitage
11 Tom Bowen 10 Declan Cusack 9 Ruairi Cushion (capt)
1 Ben Rogers 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie 3 Lloyd Fairbrother 4 Brett Beukeboom
5 Rupeni Nasiga 6 Sean-Michael Stephen 7 Sam Matavesi 8 Aaron Carpenter
16 Paul Roberts 17 Lewis Warner 18 Herbie Stupple 19 James Phillips
20 Jamie Salter 21 Alex Brown 22 Sam Hocking
Newcastle Falcons have made five changes for this Saturday’s trip to Plymouth Albion
Italian international Carlo del Fava is the most notable inclusion with the lock-forward returning to the pack after a lengthy spell in the treatment room with a hand injury.
Meanwhile hot-prospect Scott Wilson replaces James Hall at tight-head prop, while skipper Will Welch and Ollie Stedman form a new back-row combination.
In the backline Alex Tait gets his chance to impress from the start, replacing Ryan Shortland who grabbed himself a brace of tries in last week’s 72-17 British and Irish Cup quarter-final triumph.
Tom Catterick switches to the wing with fellow ex-Barnard Castle pupil Tait pulling on the No.15 jersey.
The Falcons defeated the Devon club 31-15 when the two sides met in the reverse fixture back in November, with Mark Wilson, Luke Fielden and Jamie Helleur all touching down to seal the win.
With qualification for the end of season play-offs now guaranteed by virtue of a superior points difference and a 20 game unbeaten run to boot, Dean Richards’ men will be champing at the bit to continue this colossal trend.
Reflecting on his side’s previous encounter with Albion, defence coach Graham Steadman told Falcons TV: “I was disappointed with the first 20 minutes of that game, and I’ve touched on that in the presentation this morning on what Plymouth can pose.
“We were guilty of not turning up for the first quarter of the match, but we have moved on from that and there is a stronger mind-set within the group now.
“We are the meanest defence in the whole of Europe, not just in England so we are certainly doing things well.
“The most pleasing thing for me as a defence coach is that the boys have bought into what I’m trying to do, and the players are really working hard for each other.”
15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Jamie Helleur
11 Tom Catterick, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Warren Fury
1 Grant Shiells, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Scott MacLeod
5 Carlo del Fava, 6 Ollie Stedman, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 All Hogg
16 Rob Vickers, 17 James Hall, 18 James Goode, 19 Richard Mayhew
20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 James Fitzpatrick
Sara Raine, Plymouth Herald:- The Pressure Is All On Bristol, Says Nat Saumi
THERE is likely to be plenty of emotion at Brickfields tomorrow when Plymouth Albion play their final home match of the season.
Head coach Nat Saumi is leaving the club after 10 years. "I just hope the boys turn up and they give the supporters a good game of rugby to mark our last home match of the season," said Saumi, who will fly home to Fiji at the end of May.
"I have enjoyed my time here and have made a lot of friends. I just want to thank all the supporters and sponsors for all my years with Plymouth."
Albion agree terms with Beukeboom and Howley
Plymouth Albion have agreed terms for existing players, Canadian international lock Brett Beukeboom and centre Toby Howley-Berridge for next season.
Both players have made a big impression at Brickfields this season have signed one year extensions to their contracts.
Speaking about the resigning of 23 year old Beukeboom, Albion’s CEO Debbie Fisher said, “We are delighted that Brett is staying with us for next season. Brett is an international player who has really developed well this season playing Championship rugby.
“Next season Brett will also be studying at Plymouth University where he will hopefully complete a degree course he started in Canada. Plymouth Albion will always support players who are preparing for their future.”
Commenting on 23 year old Howley-Berridge who joined Albion last summer Fisher said, “Toby has enjoyed his first season at Albion and he has come on hugely to be come a regular starter for the club."
Rotherham Titans go into their penultimate RFU Championship fixture on Saturday against Moseley, looking to end the season with a flurry of victories.
Ahead of the clash Titans have made four changes to the side that beat Cornish Pirates 41-28 in a thrilling contest at Clifton Lane just 2 days ago.
In the Titans back line Lee Blackett returns to skipper the side at inside centre, whilst Charlie Mulchrone comes back in at scrum half. In the pack Marshall Gadd gets the nod for a start at loose head prop and Latu Makaafi who has overcome an eye injury will start at blind side flanker.
The overall head to head between the sides sees Rotherham hold a healthy 19-8 advantage. The reverse fixture earlier in the season at Billesley Common was Alex Codling’s first game in charge at Rotherham. That day Titans managed to edge a tight encounter 16-20 and another tight, competitive clash is expected at Clifton Lane tomorrow
Ahead of the match Alex Codling said, “We know Clifton Lane is a tough place for visiting sides to come and we need to make sure we hammer home that advantage. We need to show more desperation for the win than they do and that will help hugely in us getting over the line. We want to finish the season off on a positive note for the supporters.”
15 Ed Styles, 14 Mike Doneghan, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Lee Blackett (Capt.)
11 Curtis Wilson, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone
1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Neale Patrick
5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Joe Ellyatt, 8 Laurence Pearce.
16 Harry Hannan, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Ross Davies, 19, Ben Thomas
20 Alex Rieder, 21 Pale Nonu, 22 Jimmy Williams.
For the second consecutive match Moseley face Yorkshire opposition this weekend, although on this occasion it is away from their Birmingham base. The penultimate round of this year’s Championship matches sees Moseley keeping faith with the squad who, despite a thrilling second half come-back, lost narrowly to Leeds Carnegie a week ago.
These two sides met at Billesley Common in the autumn when Titans won by just four points, Moseley gaining a losing bonus point in the dying minutes of the match. The Birmingham side will be wanting to even the score at Clifton Lane. Since the Championship began the record between the two clubs gives the northerners a slight edge, although the outcome has often been unpredictable. With Moseley still in need of points to be mathematically sure of securing their league status this contest is certain to be hard-fought.
There is a close affinity between the clubs as several players on both sides (including Moseley Coach Kevin Maggs) have been at one time in the opposition squad. This is sure to add an intriguing spice to the occasion.
1.Danny Herriott; 2. Sam Wilkes; 3. Ben Evans; 4. Buster Lawrence
5. Mike Powell; 6. Neil Mason; 7. Oliver Robinson; 8. Sam Dickinson
9.Alex Day; 10. Glynn Hughes; 11 Bradley Hunt
12. Anthony Carter; 13. Greg King; 14. Simon Hunt; 15. Billy Robinson
16.Craig Voisey; 17. Ben Pienaar; 18. Adam Parkins; 19 Addison Lockley
20.Tom Stephenson; 21 Ryan Glynn; 22. Oliver Thomas
Brian Dick, Birmingham Mail:-
Fading Moseley will use whatever energy they can muster to propel them up to, and hopefully over, Rotherham this weekend in their last away fixture of an exhausting campaign.
After starting 2013 like men possessed, as Jersey, Plymouth, Doncaster and Bristol were all mowed down by the sheer force of Mose’s will, the Billesley Common outfit have slowed to a weary trudge in recent weeks.
Full Story www.birminghammail.co.uk
Curtis Wilson Signs For Rotherham
On loan winger Curtis Wilson has penned a deal to remain at Clifton Lane for the 2013-14 RFU Championship season.
Curtis arrived at Rotherham in February, on loan from fellow Championship side Leeds Carnegie and he’s impressed the club’s coaching staff immensely during his short time at the Lane.
Commenting on his decision to stay at Clifton Lane, Curtis said, “I know Lee (Blackett) from his time at Leeds and he called me up asking me to come down and give it a go here. Rotherham are a club that want me to be here, want to give me some games and are a club that believe in me, so why wouldn’t I want to be here. I’m just focusing at the moment in getting some game time and getting to know the boys.
“I’m really looking forward to next season and hopefully I’ll be able to show everybody what I can do. The facilities at Clifton Lane are different to Leeds, but the people in and around the club seem really nice and very welcoming.
The club has a community feel to it and it seems like all the players know most of the supporters and as a result it is a very comfortable environment to be working in.”
The 20 year old London born flyer came with a reputation of a speedster with good footwork; that much is evidently true, but the youngster who has represented Yorkshire U18s and North of England U18’s has more to his game as Titans Assistant Coach Lee Blackett explained, “I’m really pleased that Curtis has agreed to sign with us for next season. I know Curtis well from my time at Leeds and I know what he can bring to the squad.
“Even though he’s only played three games for us, I think he’s already showed what he can do. He’s a line-breaker and he was outstanding for us against Doncaster the other week. It was his line-break which led to our try which changed the game for us.
“Curtis is an out and out finisher and at this moment in time he’s probably the quickest guy in the squad. You can more or less guarantee he’ll be our top try scorer next year, as long as he keeps up his current training and continues to work hard.”
SKY Sports & BBC Radio Cornwall
Winger Rhys Crane returns from injury and slots straight into Nottingham Rugby's starting XV for Sunday's RFU Championship clash with the Cornish Pirates at Meadow Lane
The 27-year-old fractured his leg in the win over Bedford on January 27, and has shown remarkable signs of recovery since rejoining teammates at the clubs' Lady Bay training base last week.
Crane's inclusion is one of 13 changes to the side that was beaten in the British and Irish Cup quarter-final at Kingston Park last week.
Prop Jonny Harris and No.8 Alex Shaw are the only two players who retain their place in the side.
Hooker Joe Duffey makes his first start since Nottingham's narrow loss to Newcastle last month and flanker Brent Wilson assumes the captaincy once again, slotting in alongside Rupert Cooper in the back-row.
Sean Romans and James Arlidge team up at half-back, while Dan Montagu and Nic Rouse are reunited in the second row.
Centres Tim Streather and Joe Munro reclaim their places while Alex Lewington starts on the right wing with Crane moving onto the left ahead of David Jackson who moves to the replacements bench.
Head coach Martin Haag, who has just penned a two-year contract extension with the East Midlands club that keeps him at Meadow Lane until the end of the 2014/15 season, said he would take advantage of the fully-fit squad at his disposal in the lead up to the Championship promotion play-offs.
"In these next two games we might see some changes, giving guys a chance to stake a claim for a place in the play-off games," Haag said.
Crane's return has intensified rivalry for places in the side."The freak that is Rhys Crane is back in the team, so it is good to have guys like that coming back into contention at the right time of season," Streather said.
"Competition for places is going to be fierce for the play-offs with everyone in great shape"
15 Andrew Savage 14 Alex Lewington 13 Tim Streather 12 Joe Munro
11 Rhys Crane 10 James Arlidge 9 Sean Romans
1 Jonny Harris 2 Joe Duffey 3 Michael Holford 4 Dan Montagu
5 Nic Rouse 6 Rupert Cooper 7 Brent Wilson (c) 8 Alex Shaw.
16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Tom Price 19 Tom Calladine
20 Finlay Barnham 21 Joe Cobden 22 David Jackson.
For the penultimate Championship game this season, the Pirates have made a number of changes from the side that succumbed to a 41-28 defeat against the Titans on Wednesday evening.
Skipper Gavin Cattle makes a return to the starting line-up at scrum-half, with Aaron Penberthy his half-back partner, and others called back to start are wing Matt Evans, centre Tom Riley, plus experienced back-rowers Laurie McGlone and Kyle Marriott, along with hooker Rob Elloway.
K. Moyle, B. Mercer, T. Riley, S. Hill
M. Evans, A. Penberthy, G. Cattle (capt),
L. McGlone, A. Cheesman, K. Marriott, D. Barry
D. Lyons, P. Joyce, R. Elloway, R. Storer.
P. Andrew, W. Tanner, J. Tyas, P. Burgess, T. Kessell, K. Hallett, A. Smith.
Nottingham Post:- Greens aiming to plunder the Pirates
Nottingham's head coach Martin Haag has a one-track mind at the moment.
All he can focus on, all he wants to talk about, is Sunday's game with Cornish Pirates at Meadow Lane.
"We are in good shape, but we need to keep the momentum going," he said.
"It is important to get to the play-offs. We are just focusing on Sunday at the moment, not six months down the line."
Full Story www.thisisnottingham.co.uk
Head coach Haag pens new Nottingham Rugby deal
Nottingham Rugby head coach Martin Haag has committed himself to the club for the next two seasons after agreeing a contract extension.
Haag, 44, has steered the Green and Whites to the RFU Championship promotion play-offs in his first season in charge at Meadow Lane. He also guided Nottingham to the last eight of the British and Irish Cup.
The former England and Bath lock was appointed in the summer, taking over from long-serving Director of Rugby Glenn Delaney.
Nottingham Rugby chief executive Simon Beatham is delighted that Haag has extended his stay until the end of the 2014/15 season.
“Martin has made an outstanding impression on Nottingham Rugby since arriving in July and we are thrilled that he has agreed to continue his excellent work,” Beatham said.
“We have reached the semi-finals for the first time ever this season and our campaign is far from over. It comes as a huge boost that Martin has signed a new deal leading up to one of the most exciting months in the clubs’ proud 137 year history.
"He leads a strong and talented coaching team that includes Ben Johnston and Neil Fowkes with great commitment and skill, and we are very confident he will continue to guide and inspire the development of the squad.
“In his first year at the club he has demonstrated a great ability to get the best out of his players and it is exiting for him to develop the squad and mould it for the future.”
Beatham also revealed that the club is close to finalising contract extensions for a number of players and confirming new recruits in preparation for next season.
“Over the coming days and weeks we have a number of exciting announcements about the squad,” Beatham said.