Bedford v Nottingham - RFU Championship play-off semi-final match preview

Last Updated: 03/05/13 2:08pm

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Bedford Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer is determined to see his side clinch a first appearance in the RFU Championship final when they face Nottingham.

The Blues, who face Nottingham at Goldington Road in Saturday's first leg, have appeared in three successive semi-finals but ended up losing to the eventual champions - Exeter, Worcester and London Welsh - on each occasion.

However Rayer, who has made just one change on the bench following the loss to Newcastle last time out with Ben Gulliver replacing Tom Armes, wants his side to take the next step.

"This will be our fourth appearance in the Championship semi-finals and everyone is determined to stake a claim for a final spot," he said.

"We know how important home advantage is in games like this so we have to make it count this weekend and I hope that our fans will turn out in force to help us along."


Nottingham head coach Martin Haag has hailed the clash as "one of the biggest games in the club's history".

The Green and Whites finished the regular campaign in second and at targeting a long-awaited return to the top flight.

"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."

Haag had made eight changes to the starting line-up that lost to Leeds last time out.

Brent Wilson, Alex Shaw, Nic Rouse, Matt Parr, Michael Holford, Sean Romans, James Arlidge and Andy Forsyth all start.

Bedford: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 James Stephenson, 13 Brendan Burke, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 James Short, 10 Myles Dorrian, 9 Luke Baldwin, 1 Darren Fearn, 2 Neil Cochrane, 3 Dan Seal, 4 Mike Howard, 5 Paul Tupai, 6 Gregor Gillanders, 7 Darren Fox (c), 8 Nick Fenton-Wells.
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Phil Boulton, 18 Ben Gulliver, 19 Don Barrell, 20 Darryl Veenendaal, 21 Jake Sharp 22 Ollie Dodge

Nottingham: 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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