Rugby Union round-up: Hull on high

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THE absence of a legion of internationals from yesterday's matches gave up-and-coming players a chance to bid for places on this summer's tour party to South Africa. The Bristol full-back Paul Hull seized the opportunity with two scintillating, long-range tries in a 30- 17 home victory over Orrell that virtually guarantees his side's survival in the First Division.

His first came on the stroke of half-time when he intercepted a long pass from the fly-half Gerry Ainscough on his own 22 and raced 80 metres to score under the posts. But he saved his best for the 55th minute. The wing David John gambled on a quick throw just inside the Bristol half and found Hull, who sped through the Orrell defence without a touch.

It looks like curtains for London Irish, who needed a win against Gloucester to keep alive their flickering hopes of avoiding relegation. The first half belonged to the exiles, as Michael Corcoran kicked them to a 9-0 half-time lead. But the Gloucester full-back Tim Smith was in a merciless mood, and his three penalties and two drop-goals in the second half took his side to a 15-12 victory that may condemn London Irish to the drop.

Wakefield and West Hartlepool always seems to provide a tight contest: they drew 13-13 in the league earlier in the season, and there was only a point in it in the Pilkington Cup. Yesterday West sneaked home

11-10, but the close scoreline belies a game of poor quality enlivened only by two tries. The scorers were West's Paul Evans, who was driven 25 metres in a rolling maul to touch down in the second half, and Wakefield's Diccon Edwards, whose spectacular first-half try set up a 7-0 half-time lead for his team.