Rugby Union: Irish left on edge

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LONDON IRISH succumbed to their ninth defeat of the season in the relegation battle with Orrell at Edge Hall Road. Orrell's forwards dominated the game, and the only bright spot for the Irish was the strength of Sam Domoni, their Fijian second row, who made an impact in the line-out.

Steve Taberner, Ian Wynn and Steve Bibby scored Orrell's tries, and their England Under-21 prospect James Naylor was impressive in his mastery of the Irish international Simon Geoghegan. Michael Corcoran kicked London Irish's sole penalty, but it will be scant consolation as relegation looms.

Northampton's top scorer Paul Grayson ensured his side's 22-19 victory over Bristol. He kicked five penalties out of six and converted centre John Fletcher's 33rd-minute try - but was wayward with three drop-goal attempts. Saints' full- back, Ian Hunter, proved his fitness to the England selectors, his hamstring holding up for the 80 minutes, but his form was suspect: he had an indifferent game, knocking on three times and throwing out some wild passes as he tried to launch counter-attacks from the deep.

Sale seem to have it in for Otley just at the moment. They dumped them out of the cup 58-7, and in yesterday's Second Division contest they were even more emphatic, winning 88-9, with five tries from Simon Verbickas.

In the only top-level game in Wales Newbridge met Dunvant, two sides travelling in opposite directions in the First Division. Newbridge continue to improve, and they had the better of the game at The Welfare ground to win 16-0.