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Crane starts as Haag rings the changes for Pirates battle

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 (1.15pm kick-off).

Crane London Scottish

CRANE TRAIN: Winger Rhys Crane in back on track and into the starting XV to face Cornish Pirates on Sunday. PIC: Steve Galloway.

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.

Streather 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"

Nottingham Rugby team to face Cornish Pirates at Meadow Lane on Sunday, April 14 (1.15pm kick-off): 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.

Replacements from: 16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Tom Price 19 Tom Calladine 20 Finlay Barnham 21 Joe Cobden 22 David Jackson.


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