NOTTINGHAM guaranteed themselves the runners-up spot in
the Championship table with a close, nervy 28-26 win over Cornish
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
After a cagey start, a chip through from James Arlidge almost
brought a chance for Nottingham but Pirates managed to clear the
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
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
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
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
Referee: L Pearce Attendance: