Round-up : Beim boosts Sale's boom

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The Independent Online
The Pilkington Cup finalists Sale returned in style to their twin ambition of qualifying for next season's European Cup with an impressive 43-22 Courage League One victory yesterday at West Hartlepool.

Tom Beim, fourth-placed Sale's talented young wing, ran in a hat-trick of tries and there were also touchdowns for his fellow wing David Rees, player-coach John Mitchell, former England scrum-half Dewi Morris and fly-half Simon Mannix, who also landed four conversions. Steve John replied with two tries for West while his namesake, Chris, kicked four penalties. With Bristol winning, West must now aim to finish above Orrell and London Irish to avoid automatic relegation.

The Exiles' thrilling 20-19 win over Harlequins at Sunbury did West no favours, though. With Dominic Chapman scoring an early try and Thierry Lacroix in prime kicking form, it looked like being a comfortable outing for Quins on the rebound from last weekend's Cup semi-final eclipse by Sale. But the Irish completed their comeback when Conor O'Shea's final- minute try was converted by David Humphreys, who also kicked two penalties and a conversion to an earlier try by No 8 Barry Walsh. Worryingly for the Lions, the Exiles' lock Jeremy Davidson injured his groin, but he expects to be fit within two weeks.

Richmond maintained their four-point lead over Bedford in League Two despite struggling to beat Blackheath 29-24. Ben Clarke, no doubt smarting over his Lions omission, scored one of Richmond's four tries. Third-placed Coventry kept up their momentum with a hard-fought 21-15 success over Rotherham, but Nottingham are relegated after losing 33-13 to Waterloo.

Pontypridd still lead Wales's First Division after thrashing Treorchy 57-8 and ensuring that Swansea, for whom Leigh Davies claimed four tries, made no inroads despite hammering Ebbw Vale 59-12. Llanelli shaded Dunvant 29-24 but Bridgend's European ambitions were dented 31-26 at Newport.

Queensland ended a five-match losing streak in the Super 12 by beating Otago 37-24 in Brisbane. The Australians joined Otago and New South Wales, who face Northern Transvaal in Sydney this morning, on six points at the foot of the table.