Rugby Union: Wasps go back on top

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The Independent Online
Wasps took advantage of Leicester's Pilkington Cup furlough to return to the top of the Courage League table with a comfortable 48-23 victory at West Hartlepool yesterday.

The north London side piled on seven tries, including one from their latest recruit, the Ireland centre Rob Henderson. The England internationals Andy Gomarsall and Chris Sheasby were among the other try-scorers while Liam Botham ran in one of West's three touchdowns.

Gloucester set a club record with their seventh successive League One win - a 30-0 rout of the bottom side Orrell at Kingsholm. Mark Mapletoft, the country's leading scorer, swelled his tally by 20 points with two of the home side's four tries, two conversions and two penalties.

In League Two, Newcastle underlined their liking for Rugby where they triumphed 70-0. Against the club they hammered 156-5 earlier in the season, Rob Andrew's men helped themselves to 10 tries, including a hat-trick for John Bentley, two for Ireland's new hooker Ross Nesdale and one from the Western Samoan debutant Pat Lam.

Richmond remain top after struggling to a 37-27 home win over Moseley, Craig Quinnell claiming two of their five tries. A brace from Junior Paramore, another Samoan back-row forward, enabled Bedford to stay second by beating Wakefield 29-17 while a 29-0 success at Nottingham kept Coventry third.

Scott Gibbs gave Wales an injury scare for Saturday's international in Paris when he was forced to sit out Swansea's 38-12 home win over Dunvant because of a trapped shoulder nerve. The Lions centre insisted he would be fit to face France and the Welsh selectors were further cheered by Colin Charvis's hat-trick of tries for the league leaders. Dunvant's misery was completed when Mefin Davies was sent off for persistent offside.

Another Wales player on song was Neil Jenkins who clocked up 33 points on his own in second-placed Pontypridd's 68-8 win at Caerphilly. Bridgend are a distant third despite their 45-14 thrashing of Newbridge, Llanelli drew 18-18 at Newport and Ebbw Vale were surprise 16-15 winners at Neath.

Lansdowne head Ireland's Insurance Corporation League after a 19-13 win at St Mary's College, who drop from first to third. Shannon, champions for the last two seasons, are second on points difference following their 17-16 thriller against fourth-placed Garryowen. Two tries by Rowen Shepherd and one from his Scotland team-mate Bryan Redpath helped the champions Melrose to a 22-8 Tennents Championship win at Hawick which keeps them clear of Watsonians on points difference.

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