Rugby Union: North count their bruises

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Wales A. . . . . .24

North of England. .8

NORTH OF ENGLAND have to be credited for their decision to honour this fixture at Pontypool last night when they have to play London in their divisional championship at Newcastle on Saturday.

North's only casualties of a bruising defeat were the flanker Charlie Vyvyan, whose position in any case would have been filled by Tim Rodber, and the stand-off Paul Grayson.

Wales A were easily rolled back to set up a try for Simon Mitchell, the North hooker, after three minutes. But for no explicable reason the Welsh came alive, inspired by North problems in a scrum on their own line. The scrum-half David Scully could not collect the ball immediately and, after he was collared by Hemi Taylor, the ball went loose for the Cardiff flanker to score a try which Aled Williams converted.

Six minutes from half-time Matthew Back broke adventurously from inside his own half. He had good support from Simon Hill, who brushed off two tackles to set up Mike Hall for the try.

Both teams found handling a problem, but Wales at least were willing to run the ball. Yet it was the North who scored. In this case it was fourth time lucky for Grayson. He had missed two penalty kicks and a conversion but he managed a sweetly-struck penalty to make the score 12-8.

Wales hit back in the 62nd minute. A controlled pass from Robert Howley enabled Williams a rare opportunity to show his ability on the break and he put Nigel Davies over. Williams converted.

Within six minutes Scott Quinnell plunged over near the corner for the final try.

WALES A: M Back (Pontypridd); S Hill (Cardiff), M Hall (Cardiff, capt), N Davies (Llanelli), W Proctor (Llanelli); A Williams (Swansea), R Howley (Bridgend); R Evans (Llanelli), R McBryde (Swansea), L Mustoe (Cardiff), G D Llewellyn (Neath), D Jones (Cardiff), H Taylor (Cardiff), M Perego (Llanelli), S Quinnell (Llanelli).

NORTH: J Mallinder (Sale); J Sleightholme (Wakefield), K Simms (Liverpool St Helens, capt), M Fielden (Northampton), S Bromley (Rugby); P Grayson (Northampton), D Scully (Wakefield); M Hynes (Orrell), S Mitchell (West Hartlepool), S McMain (Sheffield), J Dixon (West Hartlepool), D Baldwin (Sale), C Vyvyan (Wharfedale), N Ashurst (Orrell), A MacFarlane (Sale). Replacements: C Cusani (Orrell) for Vyvyan, 23; Ainscough (Orrell) for Grayson, 80.

Referee: K McCartney (Scotland).