Davies' day

Rugby round-up
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The Independent Online
JONATHAN DAVIES scored his first Heineken League points as Cardiff scrambled to a hard-fought 16-13 victory over Ebbw Vale yesterday. The former Wales fly-half kicked three penalties and converted a late winning try by Gareth Jones.

Llanelli struggled to win 10-6 at Newbridge where the Welsh full-back Justin Thomas kicked a penalty and converted a try by Matthew Wintle. Neath moved up to third place with eight tries in a 45-8 success at Bridgend and Newport avenged their 78-6 defeat in October by beating Swansea 27- 16. Treorchy prevailed 17-16 in the basement battle at Aberavon where they had never previously won.

Newcastle continued their climb up the Courage League Two table with a 24-6 victory at Bedford, who had suspended six first-team players following an incident at a Scottish hotel on a recent club tour. Tony Underwood and Gary Armstrong scored their first league tries for Newcastle while the player-manager Rob Andrew kicked three penalties and a conversion.

London Irish and London Scottish maintained their challenge for the second promotion spot. The Irish moved to within two points of leaders Northampton with a 29-26 win at Moseley in which Michael Corcoran kicked 19 points, but the third-placed Scots kept up the pressure by beating Nottingham 19-12.

Warwickshire, the holders, reached the final of the CIS Insurance County Championship with a convincing 36-16 victory over Lancashire at Preston, winning the try count by four to one.

Alan Davies, 51, the former Wales coach, is to take charge of team affairs at Bristol next season in succession to Brian Hanlon, who will return to his native New Zealand after two and a half years at the club.

Nick Popplewell's hamstring strain prevented the Newcastle prop from playing a full part in Ireland's squad session at Lansdowne Road yesterday, but the team manager Pat Whelan expects him to train this morning.