Rugby Round-up: Hapless Exiles near final exile

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LUCK finally deserted the Irish yesterday. With Gloucester going down 19-3 at Northampton, London Irish must have fancied a stay of execution in League One when winless Newcastle Gosforth paid a visit. The Exiles' exile was effectively sealed, however, by a 19-17 reversal: their last two fixtures are against Leicester and Bath.

Mathematical improbability prevented other issues from being settled, though some are now beyond dispute. Sale are primed to join West Hartlepool in League One following their 28-19 win at Wakefield while Coventry were virtually assured promotion to League Two via a 22-3 victory over lowly Havant.

In Ireland, Garryowen wrapped up the Insurance Corporation League with a 9-3 win over Blackrock College while the upset of the day occurred in Wales, where Dunvant turned a 10-0 half-time deficit against Neath into a 10-10 draw, which more or less handed the Heineken title to Swansea. Treorchy secured promotion from Division Two by blanking Glamorgan Wanderers 13-0.

Spare a thought for Cross Keys, the only club among the top four divisions in England and Wales without a point and owners, moreover, of the leakiest defence. Even if it did take their points against tally to 671, losing 21-11 at home to the Swalec Cup semi-finalists Llanelli was something of a triumph in the circumstances.

For a spicier flavour of the bump and grind, mind, the hottest ticket was the Super-10 competition, the provincial championship of the southern hemisphere. There were two one-sided affairs in Pool A, Queensland seeing off Eastern Province 41-10 in Port Elizabeth while the holders Transvaal demolished Otago 44-19 in Johannesburg, scoring six tries en route to their second win and seventh in a row since the inception of the series last year. In Pool B, Auckland opened their campaign at Eden Park with a 27-10 win over the Ranfurly Shield holders Waikato. Having previously lost to New South Wales, the dismissal of their New Zealand Maori lock Tiwini Hemi for fighting was hardly the wake-up call Waikato had in mind.