Rugby Union: Happy ending for Irish

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London Irish suffered an early scare before securing their place in the fifth round of the Tetley's Bitter Cup yesterday at the expense of Manchester, a side three leagues below them.

The Allied Dunbar Division One team, who fielded eight caps, sealed victory with two tries early in the second half after the Jewson League Two North club had taken the lead on 26 minutes with a try by the left-wing Matt Hoskin. But the Exiles ran out comfortable winners with five tries - from Niall Hogan, Conor O'Shea, Ciaran Bird, Niall Woods and David Humphreys.

Tim Stimpson marked a rare outing for Newcastle with two tries in the Premiership leaders' 34-10 home win over Exeter. Richard Metcalfe, Va'aiga Tuigamala, Tony Underwood and Peter Walton also went over.

Fylde, bottom of Division Two, scored four tries as they saw off visitors Rosslyn Park 20-5 while Rotherham continued their recent run of form with a 26-3 success at Bracknell.

Andy Keast, the Harlequins' coach, is still pondering his side's 40- 38 home defeat by Bristol on New Year's Eve as he prepares for today's tie with Wasps at Loftus Road. "I hope the humiliation the players endured will act as an incentive. They must prove to me they're worth their contracts otherwise they can go elsewhere." Today's other ties - at Blackheath, where Saracens are the visitors, and Worcester, who entertain Bristol - are subject to pitch inspections this morning. In any case, Bristol's Ireland centre Kevin Maggs is out with a dislocated finger.

One game laid low by yesterday's storms was Cardiff's Welsh Premier Division meeting with champions Pontypridd. Cardiff, who are in dispute with the Welsh Rugby Union, were refusing to kick off at 6pm so that the game could be screened live on the Welsh TV channel S4C.

Ballymena went top of the AIB Irish League by winning 25-5 at Terenure, but Shannon, champions since 1995, could overhaul them today if they beat visitors Young Munster.