Rugby Union Round-up: Dodds key to South's victory

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IN Scotland the champions, South, made a successful start to what this season is an abbreviated McEwan's district championship by defeating North & Midlands 37-13. South's success stemmed from a stream of quality possession at the line-out by Doddie Weir and Carl Hogg and the pace of their loose forwards to breakdown points where North struggled to win any decent ball.

Behind the scrum the South backs handled efficiently but what made the difference to their attack was the pace of Michael Dodds whose timely intrusions helped Chris Dalgleish to two tries on his debut for South. Dodds also claimed a try for himself at the beginning of the second half. South's other two touchdowns came from Graham Shiel and John Amos; North's points came from a try by their hooker, Martin Scott, and a conversion and two penalties by Bryan Easson. In the other district match, Glasgow defeated Edinburgh 21-6.

The Heineken Welsh League's First Division was the only top-level league in action today. Swansea took on Bridgend at the Brewery Field without Scott Gibbs and Robert Jones, who were playing for the World XV in Naas Botha's testimonial match in South Africa. But their absence was more than covered by a sparkling performance from the stand-off Aled Williams, who scored all Swansea's points in their 20-16 victory. Pointless Pontypool desperately needed to beat Aberavon to lift themselves out of the relegation zone and they did just that, sneaking home 16-11, courtesy of three Mark Ring penalties. Match of the day in the Welsh Division Two saw third-placed South Wales Police attempting to arrest the development of the unbeaten leaders, Treorchy. But the police squad failed to make the most of home advantage and Treorchy won 34-18.

In the Courage League all the action was concentrated in the lower divisions. In their Third Division fixture against Bedford, Rosslyn Park gave League debuts to two commentators' nightmares: Ole Aiyegbus at centre and Richard Horrocks-Taylor at flanker. There was no joy for the new boys, however, as Bedford triumphed 17-12. Redruth took on Blackheath without their captain and full-back, Kevin Thomas, who has a broken ankle and will be out for the rest of the season. The Cornish club clearly missed their lost leader, and eventually went down 16-7. Blackheath's try-scorers were Mike Friday, the scrum-half who was at Wasps last season, and Stuart Burns, who recently finished at Cambridge. Burns also kicked two penalties. Fylde defeated Richmond for the first time in the league.

Naas Botha's famous boot failed him at the crucial moment when he hooked a 60-metre penalty that could have won his farewell match for his Northern Transvaal Invitation XV in Pretoria. The last-minute kick sailed just wide, allowing a World XV captained by Gavin Hastings, of Scotland - making his first visit to South Africa - to win 26-24.