Rugby Union: Luck of Young Irish

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The Independent Online
THIS YEAR is set to be one of final-day decisions in the three Celtic national leagues. Young Munster may sound like a cartoon character, but they're no joke to St Mary's College after clinching the Irish championship by winning 17-14 away to their Dublin rivals. And in Scotland Melrose and Gala continued their inexorable progress towards the denouement of the McEwan's League on 13 March, Melrose winning 19-16 at Jed-Forest to maintain their single-point advantage over Gala, who beat Currie 47-13.

Swansea must wait until Mayday for their clash with their rivals Cardiff, but moved back alongside them at the top of the Heineken League by coming from behind to beat Pontypool 38-30 in a contest of seven tries - as many as the entire English First Division mustered - Aled Williams scoring 23 points. West Glamorgan's other top-flight clash saw Aberavon virtually ensure survival by beating near neighbours Neath 13-12. No such comforts for Newbridge, whose slither towards Division Two continued with a 13-17 home defeat by the bottom club, South Wales Police.

Dunvant's long run of Second Division invincibility is over at the hands of Llanharan, their companions in promotion from the junior ranks two seasons ago. Three Morris drop goals were decisive in a 12-3 defeat that makes a second joint promotion possible, Narberth's 23-10 loss at home to Tenby United allowing Llanharan past them into second place.

No such problems for the pacemakers in the Courage Second Division. Paul Grayson kept Waterloo on top with four penalties at Moseley, but was taken to hospital with concussion five minutes from the end. Newcastle Gosforth kept up the pursuit in a match of few features, none redeeming, at Richmond. Second-half tries from Chandler and Robinson sealed their 21-9 win.

A mile away Harlequins were easing First Division relegation fears - Will Carling scored in their 16-0 win over Bristol. Tries from O'Leary and Crawley in the last 10 minutes kept Saracens' thin survival hopes alive, but may have ended West Hartlepool's with a 10-3 win. Below them both, Rugby made Northampton battle all the way before falling 13-7.