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Time to make history

NOTTINGHAM head coach Martin Haag insists victory would be the only fitting way to mark what he considers one of the greatest moments in the club's history.

The Green and Whites kick-off their home and away RFU Championship play-off semi-final at Goldington Road against Bedford on Saturday 4 May (3pm).

Haag has encouraged his players to embrace the excitement of the occasion, but not at the expense of losing sight of their lofty ambitions.

"It is probably one of the biggest games in the club's history, and for this group of players it is an important match on the journey," Haag said.

"The important thing is that we use the emotions that go with being in the semi-final, but that we are also tactically spot-on with what we are doing and that we remain nice and calm.

"This is, after all, just another game and we can't lose focus of that.

"We are going to Bedford to win the game - that is simply what we have to do.

"It is going to be a big challenge. It is very important that we come away on top on Saturday and return to Meadow Lane with that advantage.

"We had it in the bag last time we were down there, but they showed character and skill with the way they went beyond 80 minutes to get the winning try in the final seconds..

"It was the same at Meadow Lane, I thought we controlled the match for large periods and they came back at us and put us under pressure. "

Haag makes eight changes to the starting side that travelled to Leeds on the final day of the league season.

Captain Brent Wilson, recently re-signed No. 8 Alex Shaw, lock Nic Rouse and props Matt Parr and Michael Holford all return to the pack.

The half-back combination of Sean Romans and James Arlidge will again orchestrate proceedings while Sale Sharks-bound centre Andy Forsyth slots in alongside Nottingham's Young Player of the Year Joe Munro at outside centre.

Both backs Tim Streather and Andrew Savage have failed to fully recover from injuries picked up against the Cornish Pirates at Meadow Lane last month.

Jack Cobden is poised to make his 100th appearance for the club as he takes his place on the replacements bench.

Nottingham Rugby team to face Bedford Blues at Goldington Road on Saturday 4 May (3pm kick-off): 15 David Jackson 14 Alex Lewington 13 Andy Forsyth 12 Joe Munro 11 Rhys Crane 10 James Arlidge 9 Sean Romans; 1 Matt Parr 2 Joe Duffey 3 Michael Holford 4 Dan Montagu 5 Nic Rouse 6 Rupert Cooper 7 Brent Wilson 8 Alex Shaw.

Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Tom Price 19 Tom Calladine 20 Harrison Lee-Everton 21 Rory Lynn 22 Jack Cobden


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