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I think you'll find you have gearchange cables not rods! I'm not sure exactly which gearbox is used in the 2.2 petrol, but, in the 2.2 diesel a larger gearbox is used than in the other diesels. (the clutch input shaft has 21 splines instead of 18) If this gearbox is used there is a small linkage assembly on the top of the gearbox which is attached to the selector on the gearbox with a single nut and bolt. This can work loose allowing the gears to feel loose. Tightening the bolt cures it. I know this is not very clearly explained (sorry) and if you have a normal BE4 gearbox it does'nt apply.
 
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The EW12 uses the ML gearbox - the BEs can't cope with the torque the EW made at higher RPMs.

Interesting aside - the only reasons the 206 GTi was never a 2.2, was because too many sheet metal changes were required to take the ML box, and the BE units pug tried with the 2.2 block were failing.
 
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