Carling puts boot in

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Harlequins and Bristol overtook the champions, Bath, at the top of Courage League One yesterday with resounding victories over northern opponents.

Quins won 41-21 at West Hartlepool and clocked up six tries - two each for Paul Challinor and Dan Luger and one apiece for Peter Mensah and Nick Walshe - while Will Carling confirmed his kicking skills with four conversions and a penalty.

Bristol beat Orrell 38-10 at the Memorial Ground as their captain Paul Hull nudged the England selectors with two tries. Their other touchdown came from Ben Breeze while the Irish international fly-half Paul Burke was on target with all three conversions and four penalties

Rob Andrew guided Newcastle to a 30-13 victory in their opening League Two game at home to Waterloo. The former England fly-half ran in one of his side's four tries and kicked 10 points. British Lions Nick Popplewell and Gary Armstrong were also among the tries.

Richmond, another big-spending club, let slip a 10-point lead in the final 10 minutes to draw 16-16 at Coventry for whom the former Leicester fly-half Jez Harris slotted a late penalty. Chris Braithwaite, the former Wasps fly-half, kicked 19 points as Blackheath beat Rotherham 44-5 and the London Scottish player-coach John Steele scored 23 in the 43-7 defeat of Rugby.

Scott Gibbs, the former British Lions centre, supplied one of Swansea's 10 tries as they extended their lead at the top of the Welsh first division to four points by winning 57-3 at Caerphilly. Dunvant are in second place after their third successive victory, 36-24 at Newbridge. Neil Jenkins kicked 24 points as Pontypridd won 54-32 away to Newport and previously unbeaten Bridgend lost 18-16 at home to Ebbw Vale. The only home win in the top flight was Neath's 46-19 success over Treorchy.

In Scotland, the Tennents league champions Melrose, who opened their title defence last weekend by obliterating Stirling County 107-10, could only beat Watsonians 27-26 yesterday.

Ten members of the Ireland side who lost to England at Twickenham last March are included in an Irish XV to play Munster in a trial match at Thomond Park, Limerick, today. The programme of matches continues a week today when the Irish take on Leinster in Dublin.

l The United States will tour Wales early in 1997 and play an international in Cardiff on 11 January. Their other fixtures will be against Wales A on 1 January, Neath (4 January) and Pontypridd (7 January).