Rugby Union: Pini cleans up at Bristol

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The Independent Online
Matt Pini left Bristol stranded at the foot of Allied Dunbar Premiership Division One after kicking the 78th-minute penalty which condemned them to a 13-12 home defeat by mid-table Richmond. The 28-year-old Australian full-back stepped up to land the crucial points after the replacement wing Jason Wright had scored the London side's two tries. Bristol's points, four penalties, all came from the boot of Paul Burke, but the Irish fly- half missed three other straightforward place kicks in the first half which should have put the home side out of sight.

Tony Underwood, the England and Lions wing, returns for the league leaders Newcastle at home to Gloucester today for the first time in three months since suffering a cruciate knee- ligament injury. John Bentley replaces Jim Naylor on the other wing while Va'aiga Tuigamala and Nick Popplewell face late fitness tests. Gloucester are already without the injured Philippe Saint-Andre and Dave Sims. England's Mike Catt is still ruled out after concussion and misses Bath's visit to unbeaten Saracens who will give debuts to the South African full-back Gavin Johnson and the Argentine prop Roberto Grau.

Bedford maintained their 100 per cent record in Division Two by winning 28-14 at Waterloo, their 10th successive league victory of the season. Frank Warren's team are now four points clear of London Scottish, who beat Rotherham 35-29, with a game in hand. Three teams - Waterloo, West Hartlepool, who disposed of Exeter 34-14, and Coventry - are two points behind the Exiles. Coventry, beaten 28-27 at Blackheath two months ago, gained their revenge in similar fashion, shading the return fixture at Coundon Road 24-22. Fylde and Wakefield continue to prop up the table after defeats by Orrell, ending a run of losses, and Moseley respectively.

In Jewson National League One, London Welsh remain one point ahead following a 32-17 success at Harrogate while second-placed Worcester swept aside visitors Reading 47-19.

Cumbria continued their defence of the Tetley's Bitter County Championship with a 66-26 demolition of Durham at Hartlepool Rovers. Stirling County remain ahead in Scotland's Tennents League after grinding to an 11-6 win at West of Scotland. But they are being chased hard by the champions Melrose, who got the better of Heriot's FP 31-22.

Pontypridd moved to within two points of leaders Swansea at the top of the Welsh Premier Division with a seven-try, 46-10 thrashing of Bridgend while Llanelli, whose Welsh international wing Wayne Proctor ran in two tries, stayed fourth with a hard-fought 32-24 success away to the bottom club Newport. Ebbw Vale consolidated fifth position and deepened second- from-bottom Neath's gloom with a 31-11 home win.

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