Referee lands in pool of turmoil

Rugby round-up
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The referee Ed Morrison was at the centre of a rumpus yesterday when he reversed his decision to allow a last-minute, match- winning try to West Hartlepool in their 18-16 Anglo-Welsh Cup defeat by the visitors Ebbw Vale.

The England panellist originally awarded a touchdown to the home centre Jamie Connolly, but changed his mind after consulting a touch-judge and instead gave Ebbw Vale a penalty. West Hartlepool, who two minutes earlier had another try disallowed for a forward pass, forced their way back into contention after losing two props, Paul Whitelock and Virgil Hartland, and back-row forward Dave Mitchell through injury in the first half.

In the other Anglo-Welsh Cup clash, Gloucester scored 12 tries as they inflicted a 76-0 mauling on Newbridge at Kingsholm. The fly-half Mark Mapletoft claimed a hat-trick and also kicked eight conversions for a personal tally of 31 points while Chris Catling, Alastair Saverimutto and Mike Lloyd each bagged two tries.

Only two Welsh sides emerged victorious from the day's 11 Anglo-Welsh Division Two games. Llandovery won 16-15 at Rugby and UWIC (Cardiff Institute) upset Nottingham 43-24. Aberavon fought back well to hold Wakefield 27-27, but Richmond thrashed Pontypool 71-14 with the wing Jim Fallon running in three of their 11 tries. The former rugby league centre Mike Pechey also scored a hat-trick, out of 10 tries, as fellow big spenders Bedford beat Abertillery 64-14.

Kendal qualified for a fifth-round Pilkington Cup tie away to Coventry with a hard-fought 18-12 victory at Exeter. Mike Healey and Jason Slater scored the visitors' tries while Richard John and Mark Woodman replied for Exeter. The difference between the sides was the place-kicking, with Jason Hudson landing two penalties and a conversion compared with only one conversion from Andy Green.

Gloucestershire opened their defence of the County Championship by shading Kent 21-20 at Maidstone while Warwickshire, last season's runners-up and the winners in 1995, saw off Notts, Lincs & Derby 27-22 at Newark.

The champions Neath were made to fight for their 39-32 win over the Welsh First Division newcomers Caerphilly. They trailed 13-0 early on and 25- 22 at the break before running in three second-half tries, though a late touchdown from the Caerphilly centre Steve Law deprived them of a bonus point. Neath, who introduced the former Great Britain rugby league forward Richie Eyres during the match, suffered a further setback when their captain and tight-head prop John Davies, who had scored one of their six tries, was forced off with an injury to his left shoulder.

Tries by two former rugby league players, the flanker Rowland Phillips and scrum-half Kevin Ellis, helped struggling Treorchy to overcome Dunvant 25-19 and give their new coach Lyn Jones his first win at the helm.

Swansea ran in eight tries as they won their home "friendly" with Saracens 48-32, but there was no joy for Cambridge University just 10 days before the Varsity Match when they were hammered 87-5 at Leicester.

The champions Melrose remained two points clear at the top of the Scottish Tennents Championship Premier League First Division with a 69-7, 11-try home win over Jed-Forest, but the Second Division match between Dundee HSFP and Biggar was postponed as a mark of respect to two Biggar players, Dougie Crone and Derek Watson, who died in a car accident early yesterday.