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Nottingham prepared for Melrose "backlash"

BEN Johnston says there will be no underestimating a Melrose team scorned as Nottingham Rugby make the return British and Irish Cup trip to the Greenyards this weekend.

Parr action Melrose

The Green and Whites overcame the two-time defending Scottish Premiership champions 54-24 eight days ago to keep their interest in this year's competition alive.

Stand-in head coach Johnston, who has again been elevated to the top job by Martin Haag said the East Midlands club has worked tirelessly to build on their first win of the season in the cross-border competition.

Johnston said: "It has been a good couple of days. We looked at the video and will try to iron out a couple of creases in our game.

"Every game is more than a must win, they are all want to wins.

"It will be a lot tougher to play a team back to back but hopefully we have done enough over the week to correct the mistakes we were making.

"There is no room for complacency. If we think we scored 50 points last week and that we might have it easy, then we will have a hard time up there.

"A side that is well beaten one week never wants that to happen again, so there is that backlash to contend with. They know a bit more about what we do, just as we have looked at and analysed them.

"There are areas of their game we think we can exploit and they will look at us the same way, so it is going to be tougher.

"If we do what we do well we are going to be hard to handle for any side, as long as we stick by that, we will do well."

Nottingham have freshened things up ahead of the return match. Skipper Brent Wilson come into the back row in place of Rupert Cooper, a move which sees Tom Calladine move to the blind side. Ryan Bower replaces Michael in the front row while Nic Rouse returns at lock in place of Joe Cain.

In the backs, Finlay Barnham has been given the nod over Sean Romans at scrum half and Joe Cobden replaces last week's stand-in captain, Tim Streather in the centre.

David Jackson will continue at full back as he goes in search of his 100th try for the club. His try during last week's encounter has left him one short of his century but Johnston believes his number 15 will be fully focused on the result rather than any personal milestones.

"It would be nice for him to get there, and would have been good to see him score it in front of a home crowd last week. There is no focus on that and he won't be distracted by it. Whenever it happens it will be lovely, but until then it is about how well the team does."

Nottingham Rugby team to face Melrose at the Greenyards on Saturday, December 15 (1.45pm kick-off): 15 David Jackson 14 Alex Lewington 13 Joe Cobden 12 Andy Forsyth 11 Rhys Crane 10 Rory Lynn 9 Finlay Barnham 1 Matt Parr 2 Shaun Malton 3 Ryan Bower 4 Dan Montagu 5 Nic Rouse 6 Tom Calladine 7 Brent Wilson 8 Alex Shaw.

Replacements from: 16 Jimmy Stevens 17 Jonny Harris 18 Joe Cain 19 Rupert Cooper 20 Sean Romans 21 James Arlidge 22 Joe Munro.


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