Rugby Union: South survive spirited revival

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The Independent Online
South . . . . . . . .37

North & Midlands. . .13

THE DEFENDING champions South made a successful start to what this season is an abbreviated McEwan's district championship by consigning North & Midlands to next weekend's play-off match for third and fourth place.

But for all that South achieved a 5-1 try victory and ended the game with a sizeable points differential there could be no disguising their disappointment at relinquishing their grip on the game in the second half when they were outplayed by a North side that if not taking collective honours posted several notable individual performances.

Principal among North's impressive players was Rob Wainwright whose performance in the loose allied to industry in the tighter phases of the game will surely have advanced his case for selection at No 8 against New Zealand next month.

Both his two rivals, Doddie Weir, yesterday playing at lock, and Carl Hogg were eclipsed by Wainwright who along with Dave McIvor, the North and erstwhile Scotland flanker, did much to stimulate the North revival.

Whether South wilted in the second half is debatable: more likely it was a case of North who have a number of Second Division players in their side taking time to adjust to the required pace of district rugby.

All the same it was remarkable that South could experience such a turnaround of fortunes after dominating for the first 50 minutes.

South's first-half grip on the game which looked as though it might provide a cricket-score victory for the Borderers stemmed from a stream of quality possession at the line-out by Weir and Hogg and the pace of their loose forwards to break down 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, who looks the most likely player to succeed Gavin Hastings at full-back, also claimed a try for himself at the beginning of the second half. South's other two touchdowns came from Graham Shiel - tidy if not electric at stand-off, and John Amos whose clever support of a break by Brian Redpath, one of the candidates for the Scotland scrum-half position, allowed the Gala flanker to gallop to the line unopposed.

North, missing the inspiration of the scrum-half Andy Nicol, a late call-off, began their fightback with a try by their hooker Martin Scott. Bryan Easson, the North stand-off converted and added two penalties to give North at least some respectability on the scoreboard.

Scores: Dalgleish/Parker (try/con, 5 min, 7-0); Parker (pen, 8 min, 10-0), Amos (try, 17 min, 15-0); Parker (pen, 24 min, 18-0); Shiel/Parker (try/con, 40 min, 25-0); Dodds/Parker (try/con, 49 min, 32-0); Scott/Easson (try/con, 54 min, 32-7); Easson (pen, 59 min, 33-10); Easson (pen, 61 min, 32.13); Dalgleish (try, 80 min, 37-13).

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