Rugby Union: Pienaar points way for Saracens

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The Independent Online
Saracens ended their disappointing Courage League season with a thrilling second-half fightback yesterday to defeat the deposed champions Bath 36-29 after trailing 22-16 at the interval.

Saracens' tries came from Matt Singer, Richard Wallace, Andy Tunningley and their new player-coach Francois Pienaar while Michael Lynagh kicked 16 points. Federico Mendez, Eric Peters, Adedayo Adebayo and Kevin Yates crossed the line for Bath.

Saracens, playing possibly their last match at Enfield before moving to Watford, were also saying farewell to their 31-year-old Australian prop Tony Daly, who scored the only try of the 1991 World Cup final against England. Daly, who won 41 caps, has announced his retirement from rugby to help run the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

One piece of good news for Bath, who still finished runners-up in the table, was that Dan Lyle, their dynamic American back-row forward, has signed a four-year contract which will keep him at the club until 2001.

London Irish rested their entire first team and lost 48-27 at home to relegated Orrell. The visitors ran in six tries - two apiece for David Lyon and Alex Bennett - and one each from Rob Hitchmough and Jim Naylor. The Exiles, whose four tries came from Barry Walsh, Alistair Allen, Andrew Dougan and Tim Ewington, are more focused on their playoff games on Wednesday and Sunday against Coventry, who finished third in League Two despite losing 37-18 at Wakefield. Bristol, who entertain West Hartlepool today, are also likely to field their second XV in preparation for their playoff meetings with Bedford.

In the Welsh First Division, Neath look safe after trouncing second- placed Swansea 42-20, Ian Boobyer scoring a hat-trick of tries. Newport can also contemplate another season in the top flight after a 14-9 victory at Dunvant, who now look doomed. Fourth-placed Cardiff consolidated their position in next season's European Cup, with a 69-21, 11-try thrashing of relegated Caerphilly. Lee Jarvis helped himself to three tries.

Holders Auckland qualified for the Super 12 semi-finals by coming from 15-7 down at half-time to beat Otago 45-28 in Dunedin - their eighth victory in nine outings. They are nine points clear of Wellington, who beat New South Wales 19-3, and Australian Capital Territory. Natal lost 40-3 to Queensland, Gauteng (formerly Transvaal) went down 47-9 to Waikato and Northern Transvaal edged Canterbury 23-22.