Rugby Union: Melville keeps his focus

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THE WASPS coach Nigel Melville will not be interested in the past or the future when his former England and club half-back partner, Rob Andrew, brings Newcastle to Loftus Road for a league match this afternoon. "Rob's departure all those years ago is history and next month's Tetley's Bitter Cup final is too far away even to start thinking about," said Melville. "There's no question of getting a psychological edge for the final. The solitary issue is the two points and a home win is crucial to us, especially after losing at home to Northampton last week."

Wasps, who hope to secure one of six English places in next season's European Cup, welcome back the England captain Lawrence Dallaglio after he was rested against Northampton, but the club's captain Mark Weedon and Test threequarters Kenny Logan and Rob Henderson are all out through injury.

Meanwhile, Richmond hope that a profitable four days in the North-east will hoist them into contention for a European Cup spot. They play West Hartlepool today and tackle Newcastle on Wednesday. "These games offer us the chance to make a significant upwards move," said the Richmond coach, John Kingston.

Bristol still lead the way in Premiership Two, but only just after scrambling to a 43-39 win in a 12-try thriller away to lowly Fylde. Luke Nabaro, the Hong Kong international wing who only made his Bristol debut a month ago, boosted his try tally to 12 in four league matches with two of his side's seven touchdowns. Rotherham trail Bristol even more narrowly on points difference with three games to play following their 35-24 success at Exeter in which their leading try scorers, the No 8 Ben Wade and wing Dean Lax, went over for their 16th and 14th respectively of the season.

Third-placed Worcester continue to rue the two points they were docked last year and look unlikely to overhaul the leading duo despite yesterday's 67-19 demolition of visitors Wakefield in which the wing Nick Baxter helped himself to three of their 11 tries. London Welsh, one place further down the table, triumphed even more emphatically when they thrashed the bottom club Blackheath 71-22 with the wing Lennie Woodard running in four tries. The division's leading scorer, Steve Gough, clocked up another 15 points as Coventry shaded Waterloo 25-24.

Garryowen, who were last champions in 1993-94, ended Shannon's run of four successive AIB Irish League titles when they won 29-13 at Young Munster to edge Cork Constitution, who beat Shannon 26-19, on points difference. In the final game in the Tennent's Velvet Premiership First Division, Scott Hastings, Scotland's most capped player, signed off with two tries for Watsonians. Alas, he finished on the losing side, by 35-21 at Currie.

Isitolo Maka, a replacement forward, scored a try two minutes from time as Otago Highlanders, the Super 12 leaders, beat second-placed Queensland 20-19 in Brisbane. Slade McFarland, another replacement, also barged over for a late try as Auckland Blues saw off the visiting Golden Cats from South Africa 24-11. The ACT Brumbies overcame a six-point deficit at half- time in Canberra to dent New South Wales' semi-final ambitions 27-16, but Coastal Sharks stayed on course for a place in the last four by beating Northern Bulls 29-0 in Durban.

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