Rugby Union: Burke gives Cardiff the edge

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SHANE WILLIAMS flashed over for a hat-trick of tries in the first 22 minutes of Neath's Welsh/ Scottish League Premier Division game against Cardiff at the Gnoll, but still ended on the losing side. The left wing is rated the fastest man in Welsh rugby since Nigel Walker, and his second try, from 60 metres out, brought the house down. But after trailing 17- 15 at the interval Cardiff clawed their way back with two second-half penalties from Paul Burke and just deserved to shade it 21-20.

Late tries from Richard Jones and Richard Rees allied to a 19-point haul for Arwel Thomas enabled Swansea, 18-11 down at the interval, to overtake Caerphilly in the last 20 minutes and win 34-18. Bridgend launched a spirited late fightback at Llanelli after trailing 29-3 only to lose 36-15. The prop Phil Booth claimed two of the Scarlets' four tries. Edinburgh Reivers were coasting 24-5 at half-time away to Dunvant, but they struggled thereafter before stumbling over the finishing line, 29-22.

Worcester sit on top of the Allied Dunbar Premiership Two table following a hard-fought 31-24 victory at Henley. Nathan Carter, Chris Raymond and Tony Windo all went over for the visitors, while Tony Yapp kicked their other 16 points. Russell Osman and Gavin Sharp touched down for Henley.

Leeds, also victorious in all three of their games, are second after a 15-11 success at Moseley with tries by Tim Fourie and Mike Shelley. The six clubs just two points behind the leading duo include Manchester, whose 29-14 defeat of Waterloo featured 19 points from the boot of Steve Swindells, London Welsh, for whom Nick Mardon scored two tries as they beat Wakefield 37-22, and Rotherham, 20-13 winners at home to Coventry.

The champions, Heriot's FP, are a lowly ninth in the BT Scotland Premiership First Division after losing 19-6 at Jed-Forest. Melrose lead the way after their 23-13 eclipse of Glasgow Hawks.

In their final pre-World Cup outing, South Africa warmed up for their title defence by thrashing South West Districts 60-10 in George. Stefan Terblanche ran in three of the Springboks' 10 tries while Breyton Paulse and Wayne Julies grabbed two each.

All three will hope to claim the prize of a year's supply of draught Guinness in cans on offer to every player who scores a try in the first two minutes of any World Cup match. The first to achieve the feat will also win pounds 10,000 for charity.