Gloucester gloom

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The Independent Online
GLOUCESTER'S depressing season took a further turn for the worse at Sale yesterday despite a dramatic second-half fightback.

Now, as a result of their ninth defeat in 10 Courage Championship games, the former West Country giants look odds-on to be relegated from League One.

Inside 20 minutes at Heywood Road, they trailed 15-0 through tries by Rob Liley and stand-in wing David Rees. But after half-time, Gloucester recovered with tries from No 8 Peter Miles and Dave Sims, who was one of three players to be shown a yellow card. The other points came via the boots of Liley (two penalties and a conversion) and Paul Turner (drop goal) for Sale, and Gloucester's Tim Smith (penalty).

Sale's scrum-half Chris Saverimutto gave the match a miss after being named in Ireland's team to play Fiji at Lansdowne Road next Saturday. The 23-year-old surveyor, who qualifies as Irish through his grandparents, is one of two new caps - the other is the Dungannon forward Jeremy Davidson. Harlequins' full-back Jim Staples succeeds Terry Kingston as captain.

In League Two, Northampton pushed their points total to 526 in 10 games by beating London Irish 52-24, the Scotland centre Gregor Townsend running in three of their eight tries.

London Scottish stay second after their second 16-16 draw of the season, against Waterloo. Sam Howard, the Blackheath fly-half, had a full house - two tries, two conversions, a penalty and a drop goal - as his side beat Nottingham 25-16, but Newcastle lost again, 8-9 at home to Moseley, and look doomed unless Sir John Hall's lawyers can get them off the hook. In League Three, Richmond's lead is down to two points following their first defeat of the campaign, 13-12 away to their nearest rivals Coventry.

Melrose are the new Tennents Championship leaders in Scotland after their 18-15 victory at Edinburgh Academicals.

Ireland (v Fiji, Dublin, Nov 18): J Staples (Harlequins, capt); R Wallace (Garryowen), M Field (Malone), J Bell (Northampton), S Geoghegan (Bath); P Burke (Cork Constitution), C Saverimutto (Sale); N Popplewell (Newcastle), T Kingston (Dolphin), P Wallace (Blackrock College), G Fulcher (Cork Constitution), N Francis (Old Belvedere), J Davidson (Dungannon), D Corkery (Terenure College), P Johns (Dungannon).