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Rugby Union: Irish crushed by the dirt-trackers

IRELAND A failed to halt the march of the South African midweek team as they fell to a convincing 50-19 defeat at Ravenhill.

The touring Springboks once again proved much too strong for their opponents and scored eight tries in a match billed as an A international.

The Irish managed one from Darragh O'Mahoney which was converted by Simon Mason while Niall Woods added all the other points from four penalties.

Glasgow Caledonians, Edinburgh Reivers and a Combined Irish Provinces had already been beaten by the tourists, and last night's result was never in doubt.

Robbie Fleck, scrum-half Chad Alcock and the full-back Gaffie Du'Toit crossed over for the dirt-trackers as they built a 19-9 lead at the interval. Du'Toit collected his second try after the break as the visitors touched down five more times in the rout.

A club record crowd of 3,112 came to see a feast of Fijian attacking rugby at Leeds last night, but it was the home side who deservedly took the honours with a 27-10 victory.

The rugby league recruit, Wendell Sailor, stole the limelight with an eye-catching individual display but it was a committed team performance which provided the platform for victory.

After Fiji had produced some thrilling second half rugby, Sailor put Leeds back in control with a typical bulldozing run to score and Leeds' first dual-code player Adam Hughes then went over to end Fiji's spirited challenge.

Pat Howard and Fritz van Heerden return to the Leicester side following a six-week absence in tomorrow night's tour game against Fiji at Welford Road. The Australian centre Howard (broken jaw) and the South African lock van Heerden (toe injury) were both hurt during Leicester's defeat by London Irish on 20 October. The Tigers will hope that both players emerge unscathed before their tough trip to the league champions, Newcastle, in 11 days' time.

"It is a big return for both of them in what is a very big game," the Leicester manager, Dean Richards, said. "Fiji will want to finish their tour in style."

Portugal, crushed 85-11 by Scotland on Saturday, have changed half their side for the World Cup meeting with Spain at Murrayfield tonight.