Rugby Union: Hull passes 600 mark

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The Independent Online
LUKE NABARO, the scorer of seven tries in his opening two league games for Bristol, clocked up three more yesterday as the Allied Dunbar Premiership Two leaders saw off Rugby 49-13 at the Memorial Ground.

The 22-year-old, Fiji-born Hong Kong international wing, who has almost singlehandedly revived Bristol's promotion hopes during the past month, was joined on the scoresheet by the scrum-half Gareth Baber, who went over twice, and Al Charron, Mark Gabey and Paul Hull who each crossed once. Hull, the former England full-back, also kicked three conversions and a penalty to take his career total in Bristol first-team outings beyond 600 points.

Even though Worcester stumbled to an unexpected 18-16 defeat away to West Midland rivals Moseley to fall four points behind the leaders, Bristol can scarcely afford to ease up as they only have their noses in front on points difference and still have four games to play. Their main challengers are Rotherham, who were equally impressive yesterday as they ran in seven tries to sweep aside lowly Fylde 43-16. Two of their touchdowns came from the No 8 Ben Wade and the wing Dean Lax, their 15th and 13th league tries of the season respectively. The title race might appear to be a straight two-horse race between Bristol and Rotherham, but Worcester can still play an important role as they have to meet both pace-setters.

Henley were celebrating last night after becoming Jewson National League One champions with a 39-8 eclipse of Liverpool St Helens. Their only rivals, Manchester, handed them the title when they surrendered 31-26 at home to Newbury.

Swansea suffered their first home defeat of 1999 when London Scottish won an Anglo-Welsh friendly 27-12 despite the sending off of their Scotland full-back Derrick Lee for a high tackle on Alex Lawson. Victory, which came courtesy of 24 points from the boot of their South African fly-half Jannie de Beer, was sweet revenge for the Exiles who had been trounced 76-5 by Swansea last November. In fairness, though, it should be noted that the Welsh club fielded just two members of their side which beat Ebbw Vale in a recent Swalec Cup quarter-final.

Vale recovered from that setback with a 24-13 victory at Caerphilly in the Welsh Premier Division. Neath dented Pontypridd's title ambitions with a 53-31 triumph at the Gnoll, but Newport secured their future in the top flight with a 33-0 thrashing of struggling Bridgend.

The New South Wales coach Matt Williams called for the introduction of video referees after his side had a fair try disallowed en route to a 21-20 defeat by Auckland in the Super 12 in Sydney. Otago took the all- New Zealand battle against Waikato in Rotorua 27-16 while Wellington made it a hat-trick of Kiwi wins by 34-18 over Coastal Sharks in East London. But the Sharks restored Springbok pride with a 35-14 success over Queensland in Cape Town.

New Zealand have the chance of further glory today in the world junior championship final against Wales in Llanelli. But the home coach, John Bevan, warned: "To win the tournament would give Welsh rugby another timely boost."