Rugby Union: Hastings battles through

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Edinburgh . . . .20

Scottish Exiles. .19

GAVIN HASTINGS celebrated his first match since being appointed Scotland's captain with a vital second-half try in leading Edinburgh to victory over the Exiles at Meggetland yesterday. Edinburgh now go forward to a showdown with the South at Melrose on Saturday which will decide the Inter-District title.

Exile frustration came close to spilling over in a match which saw the international referee, Ken McCartney, retire with a hamstring injury at half time when the visitors were leading 6-3.

It seemed then that the Exiles were beginning to exert control through their heavier pack in which Alan Sharp, the Bristol and former England B prop, did his prospects of a cap in the forthcoming Five Nations' Championship no harm. The emergence, though, of Lorne Crerar as a replacement referee coincided with a marked change in fortunes.

Edinburgh were most indebted to the flanker Scott Aitken and the No 8 Stuart Reid, who repeatedly broke up drives from the Exiles, and it was only in the tight that the visitors held a distinct edge.

Two penalties by the full-back Mark Appleson to one from the stand-off Ally Donaldson gave the Exiles a half-time lead. But Appleson failed to find touch soon after the break and John Kerr led a counter-attack which ended with Scott Hastings going over.

A feature of Edinburgh's play was how Donaldson repeatedly brought Gavin Hastings into the action and the full-back forced his way through for a try after 53 minutes. However, a defensive lapse by Hastings let Brian Gilchrist in for a try, Appleson converting and adding a penalty.

Edinburgh: Tries S Hastings, G Hastings; Penalties Donaldson 2; Conversions Donaldson 2. Scottish Exiles: Try Gilchrist; Conversion Sly; Penalties Appleson 4.

EDINBURGH: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); J Kerr (Haddington), S Hastings (Watsonians), D Wyllie (Stewart's/Melville FP), C Glasgow (Heriot's FP); A Donaldson (Currie), D Patterson; D Wilson (both Edinburgh Acads), B Brown, P Wright (both Boroughmuir), M Rudkin (Watsonians), A Macdonald (Heriot's FP), S Aitken (Watsonians), S Reid (Boroughmuir), J Robertson (Heriot's FP). Replacement: B Hay-Smith (Edinburgh Acads) for Glasgow, 10.

SCOTTISH EXILES: M Appleson; L Renwick, F Harrold, M Sly (all London Scottish), D Caskie (Gloucester); R Cramb (capt), D Millard (both London Scottish); A Sharp (Bristol), B Gilchrist, P Burnell, D Cronin (all London Scottish), A Reed (Bath), I Smith (Gloucester), D McIntosh (Pontypridd), I Morrison (London Scottish). Replacement: J Hamilton (Leicester) for Renwick, 70.

Referee: K McCartney (Hawick). Replacement: L Crerar (Glasgow High/Kelvinside), 40.