Rugby Union: Exiles bubbling over

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The Independent Online
CONOR O'SHEA and Justin Bishop have an early opportunity to put their Dublin disappointment behind them when they line up on the replacements' bench for London Irish at home to Gloucester in Allied Dunbar Premiership One this afternoon.

Dick Best, the rugby director of the league's form team, said: "We keep waiting for the bubble to burst, but all we can do is keep performing to the best of our ability and then see how the other clubs respond."

Gloucester are unlikely to trouble the Exiles, having recorded an unconvincing Tetley's Bitter Cup win over Henley last weekend and struggled recently for league consistency.

In today's other Premiership One fixture, Wasps entertainBath at Loftus Road in a match between two sides which are only on the fringe of the title hunt.

The possibility of Bristol snaffling up London Scottish grew yesterday when the West Country side suffered a shock 36-31 home defeat to third- placed Rotherham in Premiership Two. The result meant that Bristol slipped to second in the table, two points behind Worcester who kept up their run of form with a 36-23 win at Rugby.

Only the division's winners are guaranteed promotion and Bristol have indicated that they will not pursue their interest in the Exiles unless they fail to secure the top spot. However, this might have been beyond them by now had Worcester not been penalised two points by the RFU for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the season.

The Rotherham flanker Ben Wade, with his 11th league touchdown of the season, was one of the visitors' four try scorers at the Memorial Ground while the Worcester wing Rob Myler ran in his eighth try of the campaign. Andy Currier, the former Great Britain rugby league centre, claimed his eighth as fourth-placed London Welsh squeezed past Moseley 26-24, but there was an upset for Waterloo as they went down 24-5 away to neighbours Fylde.

There was another unexpected outcome at Rectory Field where the bottom club Blackheath saw off the visitors Wakefield 28-20 with two of their four tries coming from their scrum-half John Clarke.