Rugby Union: Scots lifted by return of Leslie and Townsend

Glasgow Caledonians 3 Scotland XV 53
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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND COMPLETED their World Cup warm-up programme with a stylish defeat of Glasgow Caledonians at Hughenden yesterday. It was a dashing display by the Scots, who proved the work they have done on the training field over the past two weeks has paid dividends.

Particularly pleasing was the form of Gregor Townsend and John Leslie, the two key backs, playing their first games for the Scots since the Five Nations' Championship.

Scotland, making a brisker start than in their warm-up game last week against Edinburgh Reivers, soon showed their cohesion as Kenny Logan and Gordon Simpson, Budge Pountney and Martin Leslie combined to put the Reds' defence under pressure.

When the move was stopped, Glasgow conceded a penalty, allowing Scotland to work a move that ended with Stuart Grimes scoring the opening try. Then Townsend announced his return to action after an injury-enforced break with a solo try. Logan converted and minutes later the Scotland left wing added a penalty goal to put his side 15-0 ahead.

The Caledonians, however, were not prepared to capitulate and when the Scotland XV conceded a penalty in preventing a score, the stand-off, Tommy Hayes, kicked the goal for the Reds' only points of the first half.

Scotland's appetite for points was not sated and another score seemed inevitable as the national side continued to move the ball skilfully. It came from a simple move along the Scotland back line, Jamie Mayer angling his run perfectly to take John Leslie's pass for a try under the posts, leaving Logan with an easy conversion kick.

John Leslie again provided the scoring pass for Scotland's next try, the inside centre slipping the ball to Townsend despite a crunching tackle by Jason White for the Scotland stand-off to claim his second touchdown. Another try for Mayer showed that the Scotland centre has learned the art of directional running from the master of the skill, Alan Tait.

Logan again converted before adding the extra points to a try by the replacement full-back, Chris Paterson. Scotland finished with a flourish to claim two more tries by Logan and his replacement, Iain Fairley, both unconverted.

Glasgow Caledonians: Penalty Hayes. Scotland XV Tries J Mayer 2, Townsend 2, Fairley, Grimes, K Logan, Paterson; Conversions K Logan 5; Penalty K Logan.

Glasgow Caledonians: Irving; Craig, A Bulloch, Stuart, Kerr; Hayes, Stott; McIlwham, Scott, Anderson, Griffiths, Burns, White, Waite, Petrie.

SCOTLAND XV: Metcalfe (Glasgow Caledonians); Murray, Mayer (both Edinburgh Reivers), J Leslie (Sanix), Logan (Wasps); Townsend (Brive), Armstrong (Newcastle Falcons, capt); Smith, G Bulloch (both Glasgow Caledonians), Graham (Newcastle Falcons), Murray (Saracens), Grimes (Glasgow Caledonians), Leslie (Edinburgh Reivers), Simpson (Glasgow Caledonians), Pountney (Northampton).

n Gareth Edwards will chair a 12-man panel to decide the player of the tournament at next month's Rugby World Cup. The former Wales luminary and his colleagues, who include the likes of Joel Stransky, Rob Andrew, Zinzan Brooke, Michael Lynagh and Philippe Sella, will judge the top three players from each game. The individual with most votes after five weeks of action will be named player of the tournament, an honour won by New Zealand's Jonah Lomu in South Africa four years ago. The winner, who will receive a silver trophy and cash award, will be announced on 4 November in Cardiff.