Cup of joy

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THE REDDINGS may not be Murrayfield, but England's half-backs, Matt Dawson and Paul Grayson, warmed up impressively for the Calcutta Cup match yesterday with try-scoring displays for Northampton at Moseley.

The scrum-half Dawson helped himself to two of the Courage League Two leaders' eight tries in their 46-16 victory while the fly-half Grayson claimed one touchdown and three conversions. Martin Bayfield, controversially dropped from England's second row for the Scotland game, also scored a try for the visitors along with Nick Beal (2), Harvey Thorneycroft and Matt Allen.

Neil Jenkins, still in the international wilderness after being ousted as Wales's fly-half by Arwel Thomas, collected 21 points, including a hat-trick of tries, as last season's beaten finalists Pontypridd reached the Swalec Cup quarter-finals with a 41-13 sixth-round defeat of Maesteg.

Late tries from the Welsh internationals Robert Howley and Gareth Thomas sparked a spirited Bridgend revival at Stradey Park, but the Heineken League leaders Llanelli, for whom the Wales full-back Justin Thomas played out of position at fly-half, just held on to win 18-15.

Neath recorded the highest score of the round with a 64-17 demolition of Fourth Division Whitland which included nine tries while Gareth Rees kicked Newport to a comfortable 25-5 victory at Llandovery with five penalties and a drop goal. Fourth Division Rumney gave Newbridge a fright before an extra-time penalty from fly-half Jason Strange condemned them to a 13-10 defeat at the Welfare Ground.

The Cardiff lock Derwyn Jones has rejected an offer to join Saracens, believed to be worth pounds 150,000 over three years. "It would have unsettled my game," he said .

Simon Geoghegan's hamstring injury, which forced the Bath wing to miss last weekend's defeat by France, looks unlikely to clear up in time for Ireland's game with Wales in Dublin on Saturday.