Burke kicks Sale in teeth

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The Independent Online
Bristol, Saracens and Leicester all joined the mid-table logjam of six clubs on six points with hard-fought Courage League One victories yesterday.

The most dramatic finish came at Sale, another of the six-pointers, where Bristol's Irish fly-half Paul Burke kicked a late penalty to seal a 33- 31 victory. Bristol ran in four tries in the first 16 minutes - two by the Tongan wing Dave Tiueti and the others from Burke, who finished with 18 points, and Mark Regan. But Sale hit back with a hat-trick of tries inside five minutes, Andy Morris and Neil Ryan sparking the recovery before a superb 80-metre solo effort by Jim Mallinder.

Saracens made amends for last weekend's defeat at West Hartlepool with a 37-23 success at London Irish. Ironically, two of their five tries were scored by the Ireland internationals Paddy Johns and Richard Wallace.

Leicester beat Gloucester 32-14 at Welford Road - the visitors' fifth successive defeat. Early tries from Steve Hackney and Richard Cockerill were matched by three Mark Mapletoft penalties and an Earl Anderson touchdown. But Gloucester had a blank second half while Leicester's scoring was rounded- off by a Rory Underwood special from 70 metres after an interception.

London Scottish took advantage of the Richmond-Newcastle draw to go top in League Two with a 26-12 win at Nottingham.

Four players were sent-off by Keith Beaumont during Clifton's 23-16 League Three win over Liverpool St Helens. They were the Liverpool trio of Kevin Davies, Colin King and John Grigg, and Clifton's Lee Ashford.

Arwel Thomas played a starring role as Swansea returned to the top of the Welsh First Division with an 85-21 rout of Treorchy. The Wales fly- half clocked up 28 points and scored two of Swansea's 13 tries. Neath, the champions, had another miserable day, losing 43-26 to Dunvant with their former captain, Paul Thorburn, making a try-scoring return to The Gnoll. Newbridge, who recently parted company with their five-man coaching team, went down 44-10 to Newport and Llanelli, embarrassed by Paul Jones' positive drug test, ended a week to forget with a 29-6 defeat at Pontypridd.

Mark Jones, the former Neath and Wales No 8, is the latest rugby league exile to return to the union fold. Jones, 31, who won 15 caps before switching codes six years ago, has joined Ebbw Vale from Warrington.

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