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.Reuse content