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FULL TIME: Nottingham cement second with win over Pirates

By ANDI STARR

NOTTINGHAM guaranteed themselves the runners-up spot in the Championship table with a close, nervy 28-26 win over Cornish Pirates.

An absorbing game saw them put themselves in a strong position, thanks to a brace of tries from Alex Lewington, only to gift the visitors three tries with wayward passes.

But they showed plenty of character to get themselves back in front in the late stages and hang on for a deserved win.

The surprise - and welcome - return of Rhys Crane on the wing was tempered by the loss of skipper Brent Wilson with a back problem.

After a cagey start, a chip through from James Arlidge almost brought a chance for Nottingham but Pirates managed to clear the danger.

From the restart a couple of breaks down the left promised a score but a forward pass wasted a good opportunity.

But then Pirates wasted a golden chance of their own when they comfortably stole an attempted chip and found themselves with a two on one down the middle on the edge of the home 22. But a knock on let the Green and Whites off the hook.

The visitors regained possession to keep the pressure on, only to lose their own lineout ball.

Nottingham made them pay as they quickly ran back upfield, Tim Streather leading the charge and sending a well-timed pass out to Crane to open the scoring. Arlidge made it 7-nil with the conversion.

Pirates hit back within five minutes though as they intercepted on halfway and kicked deep towards the home line, winger Matt Evans just winning the race to get a touch down.

With Aaron Penberthy off target with the conversion Nottingham led 7-5.

Almost from the restart though the Green and Whites extended their lead as Andy Savage got away down the right to send Lewington in, Arlidge converting for a 14-5 lead.

A second from Lewington, who somehow managed to wriggle through three would-be tacklers, in the final minute of normal time should have put Nottingham firmly in control at the break, with Arlidge making it 21-5 with the conversion. But deep in injury time another interception allowed second row Darren Berry to race away before offloading to skipper Gavin Cattle for a try which Penberthy converted making it 21-12 at half time.

Five minutes into the second half a second from Evans, converted by replacement Kieran Hallett, brought the visitors back to within two points.

But as the Green and Whites pressed for the bonus point try, another stray pass gifted the visitors a score as Hallett chased a long kick to touch down, adding the conversion to put his side 26-21 up before they had another try ruled out by the TMO.

Nottingham kept their nerve though and controlled the late stages as Pirates had back row man Phil Burgess yellow carded following a series of penalties in the visitors 22 , Tom Calladine eventually forcing his way over for the decisive score alongside the posts, with Arlidge adding the conversion.

The closing stages were tense at times but sensible play from Nottingham earned them the win, and a play-off semi-final against whoever finishes third.

Nottingham: Savage (sub: Jackson 41mins), Lewington, Streather (sub: Joe Cobden 58mins), Munro, Crane, Arlidge, Romans (sub: Barnham 58mins); Harris, Duffey (sub: Malton 58mins), Holford (sub: Bower 75mins), Montagu (sub: Price 75mins), Rouse, Cooper, Calladine, Shaw (sub: Eggleshaw 72mins).

Nottingham Rugby 28 (Lewington 2, Crane, Calladine Tries; Arlidge 4 Conv) Cornish Pirates 26 (Evans 2, Cattle, Hallett Try; Hallett 2, Penburthy Conv)

Referee: L Pearce Attendance: 1,469

2013-04-14T17:30:00

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