Rugby Union: Crucial points by Lax

WORCESTER appear to hold the key to the outcome of Allied Dunbar Premiership Two despite the fact that yesterday's 26-17 defeat at Coventry has dashed their own title aspirations. The ambitious Midlands club have struggled in recent weeks to stay in touch with the division's two pacesetters, Bristol and Rotherham, but over the next two weekends they will take on both sides in matches which will almost certainly decide which club ascends to Premiership One next season.

The gap between Bristol and Rotherham, who each have 40 points with two games remaining (six points clear of third-placed Worcester), has been whittled down to a points difference of less than a try.

The thrilling finale to English rugby's second flight was set up when the leaders Bristol could beat Exeter only 36-17 at the Memorial Ground while Rotherham hammered their visitors Waterloo 44-3. Bristol rattled up six tries against their West Country rivals to establish a points difference of +389. Rotherham, though, went one try better to move to +385 with their wing Dean Lax helping himself to a hat-trick to become the division's leading scorer this season with 17 touchdowns.

Coventry's Adam Smallwood thwarted Worcester's lingering promotion hopes with a brace of tries which were backed up by 16 points from Steve Gough, the division's top points accumulator. In reply, Nick Baxter went over for Worcester, who entertain Rotherham next Saturday and travel to Bristol the following weekend.

Scott Gibbs, whose virtuoso try at Wembley sank England a fortnight ago, crossed again for Swansea in their 34-31 Anglo-Welsh Friendly win at home to London Irish. His Wales team-mate Gareth Thomas was one of Cardiff's try-scorers in their 34-15 victory over London Scottish.

In the Welsh Premier Division play-offs, Julian White was sent off for punching but Bridgend still edged past Caerphilly, who scored four tries, 31-25 with Gareth Cull kicking 26 points. Shane Williams ran in three tries as Neath cashed in on Neil Jenkins' absence due to injury to beat Pontypridd 33-21, and Newport enjoyed a 57-19 romp against Aberavon.

Andrew Mehrtens, the All Blacks' fly-half, went from villain to hero to villain again as Canterbury won 30-28 against Northern Bulls in Pretoria. After missing a late penalty with his side trailing 28-27, he landed an injury-time drop goal and then gestured obscenely to the crowd. Waikato shaded Golden Cats 44-42 in Pukekohe, but in another NZ-SA contest Auckland lost 12-6 at home to Coastal Sharks whose points were kicked by Henry Honiball.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam