Rugby Union: Davison dashes Irish hopes

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The Independent Online
Thierry Lacroix converted a try by the lock forward Bill Davison in the fifth minute of injury time to earn Harlequins a home victory over relegation-threatened London Irish in the Allied Dunbar Premiership Division One yesterday. The Exiles' brave defence finally buckled when Davison barged over to level the scores and the French stand-off then nervously added the decisive two points.

London Irish led for most of the match and outscored Quins by three tries to two with their Irish international full-back Conor O'Shea crossing twice in the first half. But the visitors were ultimately undone by the formidable right boot of Lacroix, who also kicked four penalties and one other conversion.

Quins opened the scoring after just two minutes when their 20-year-old tight-head Ricky Nebbitt, standing in for the resting England prop Jason Leonard, marked his first game of the season with a well-taken try. But London Irish, second from bottom in the First Division table, took charge shortly afterwards through O'Shea's double. Their second-half try came from Justin Bishop while their other wing, Ireland's Niall Woods, provided the rest of their points by kicking three conversions and a penalty.

Bedford's inexorable march in the Second Division continued as they opened up an eight-point lead over the chasing pack with their 12th win out of 12 matches, a 67-7 romp away to the bottom club Fylde. The back- row forward Jason Forster claimed three of Bedford's nine tries and left wing Ben Whetstone bagged a brace. Meanwhile, Rotherham and Moseley swapped places in mid-table after the Yorkshire side ground out a 25-23 win at the Reddings.

London Welsh v Rosslyn Park is the sort of traditional fixture which lit up the Christmas fixture list in the days of amateurism and it provided excellent fare yesterday as the Exiles held on to their one-point lead in Jewson League One with a 23-22 win at Old Deer Park. But Worcester kept up the pressure on them with an equally narrow victory, 15-14 at Leeds.

Arwel Thomas kicked eight penalties as Swansea maintained their two-point lead at the top of the Welsh National Premier Division with an exciting 24-24 home draw against second-placed Pontypridd. Neil Jenkins, who is thwarting Thomas's Wales fly-half ambitions, was the champions' main source of points with three penalties, a drop goal and a conversion while Ponty's tries came from recently-capped Kevin Morgan and Gareth Wyatt.

Ebbw Vale trail fourth-placed Llanelli on points difference following a 33-26 victory at Bridgend in which they scored five tries to their opponents' two. Vale's touchdowns came from Alun Harries, Jonathan Hanker, David Llewellyn, Kenny Wood-ard and Byron Hayward, who added four conversions. Adrian Durston and Sam Greenaway scored Bridgend's tries, both converted by Gareth Cull who also landed four penalties.

Neath went above Bridgend into sixth place with a thrilling 23-22 home win over the bottom club Newport. The visitors ran in three tries - from Matthew Robinson, Martyn Llewellyn and Shaun Connor, who also supplied two conversions and a penalty - while Neath managed just two - via Geraint Evans and a penalty try. The difference between the sides, though, was the place-kicking of Neath's fly-half Chris John, who was on target with two conversions and three penalties.