Round-up : Warren in a hole

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The Independent Online
Frank Warren's dream that his seven-figure investment in Bedford will be rewarded with promotion to Courage League One this season looks a little remote after their 49-12 defeat at Newcastle yesterday.

The League Two pacesetters handed out a seven-try thrashing to fellow big spenders Bedford, whom they now lead by five points after eight matches. The former British Lions scrum-half Gary Armstrong maintained his record of scoring a try in each of Newcastle's league games with his 14th of the season. Other highlights included two spectacular 80-metre dashes for further Newcastle touchdowns by full-back Tim Stimpson and wing John Bentley.

Earlier, Bedford defied the Department of Education and Employment by including the Australian centre Mike Pechey in their line-up after the former Whitehaven and Widnes rugby league player had been refused a work permit. "We have taken the advice of senior legal counsel and we believe we are within our rights to play him as an amateur. We feel we have a very strong case and so does our counsel," said boxing promoter Warren, the club's paymaster.

Richmond, the Second Division's other major investors, stayed within a point of Newcastle after a 40-21 win at Blackheath in which the Ireland full-back, Simon Mason, supplied 22 points. Third-placed Coventry kept the pressure on the leading duo by winning 42-11 at Rother-ham with wings Andrew McAdam and Andrew Smallwood running in two tries apiece.

Leinster broke their duck at the third attempt in Pool B of the Heineken Cup with a 34-25 victory over Scottish Borders at Melrose, due largely to the 19 points scored by their fly-half Alan McGowan. In Pool C, an injury-time try from prop Leighton Gerrard lifted Neath to mid-table respectability with a 15-13 home success against Ulster.

Northampton continued to shine in the European Conference, maintaining their 100 per cent record with a 48-32 victory over visitors Dunvant. The hero for the Saints, winners in all four of their Pool C games, was the England fly-half Paul Grayson who contributed 28 points. Orrell restored some pride in the same group by beating Padova 42-25 at Edge Hall Road, but Bristol suffered their third defeat in four Pool B outings when they succumbed 27-14 at home to Castres. The Welsh clubs had mixed fortunes with wins for Newport (25-10 over Glasgow) and Ebbw Vale (28-20 over London Irish), defeats for Newbridge (46-12 by Clermont- Ferrand) and Treorchy (38-31 at Dinamo Bucharest), and a draw for Swansea (31-31 at home to Begles). But two props were sent off as violence flared yet again - Begles' Olivier Sourgens for a punch and Ebbw Vale's Mike Wilson for stamping.

Bernard Lapasset, the president of the French federation, has described South Africa as "bigheads" prior to their forthcoming tour of France. According to Parisien, a French daily newspaper, the Springbok management have requested specific recreational facilities at their hotels and two international lawyers to be available for each of their matches. They have also declined to attend gala banquets after the internationals in Bordeaux and Paris.

Natal, the defending champions, won the Currie Cup for the fourth time in seven years after beating Transvaal 33-15 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg yesterday. Andre Joubert, the Springbok full-back, scored two of Natal's three tries and the other touchdown came from Jeremy Thomson. Henry Honiball kicked four penalties and three conversions while Transvaal's points comprised five penalties from their full-back Gavin Lawless.