Rugby Union: Cardiff counting the cost

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CARDIFF SECURED yet another victory in the Anglo-Welsh series with a 38-15 home success over London Scottish, but in the process they lost the Wales scrum-half Rob Howley with bruised ribs and their second-row forward John Tait with a worrying neck injury.

Cardiff insisted that Tait needed X-rays as a precaution after he had complained of hearing a click in his neck when he was tackled just short of the London Scottish line, and he was detained overnight in hospital under observation.

These and other injuries, including one to the outstanding back-row forward Dan Baugh, ruined the match as a spectacle. Even so, Cardiff were too strong for a brave, often resourceful Exiles' team, running in six tries, two of which came from Liam Botham. In addition, the pace and skill of Cardiff's other flyer, Craig Morgan, must have impressed the Wales coach, Graham Henry, who is short of suitable wings to play against South Africa next month.

London Scottish battled to quell the tide and scored breakaway tries through Luke Goodwin and Stephen Cook. Both came against the run of play and in reality the Scots only avoided a rout because of Cardiff's glut of injuries rather than their own defensive qualities.

There was a similar result in the other Anglo-Welsh match at Sunbury where Swansea beat London Irish 38-20. The place kicking of the visitors' fly-half Lee Davies, who landed four penalties and three conversions, proved decisive while Matthew Robinson supplied two of their four touchdowns.

Pool C of the European Cup remains wide open following Edinburgh Reivers' 43-16 win away to Ebbw Vale. A try from the lock Chay Billen and four successful kicks by Byron Hayward were all Vale had to show for another poor European performance. Both Alan Tait and Jamie Mayer helped themselves to a couple of tries while Cameron Mather and Bryan Redpath also went over. The boot of Craig Chalmers provided the other 13 points.

With Ulster beating Toulouse on Friday night in Belfast, three teams could still win the group - only Vale with four defeats from four outings are definitely out of it.

Munster kept alive their hopes in Pool B, though only just, drawing 18- 18 at Neath, but Leinster's hopes in Pool A were dashed by a 56-31 thrashing from the tournament favourites Stade Francais in Paris. In Pool A of the European Shield, Narbonne made it four wins out of four as they out-fought Connacht 38-26 in Galway, scoring six tries to their opponents' three. In the same group, Newport claimed their first win in four attempts with a 27-18 home success over Rovigo.

Bristol maintained their 100 per cent record in Allied Dunbar Premiership Two by edging a tight contest 16-13 at Leeds, whose points all came from their Tongan full-back Sateki Tuipulotu. Worcester are still second despite an unconvincing 17-8 victory at Fylde and Jon Fabian ran in four of Exeter's seven tries in their unexpected 41-14 hammering of Waterloo.

The second round of the Tetley's Bitter Cup threw up few surprises. The former finalists Rosslyn Park skated through a potentially tricky tie at Bridgwater 49-15 while Henley ran up the day's biggest score with a 100-19 home win over Havant.