Hickie on a high for Leinster

Defending champions Leinster brought the curtain down on their Celtic League campaign with a 39-18 win over Bridgend at Brewery Field.

Bridgend led 15-10 at the interval thanks to two tries from the British Lions wing Dafydd James, who has been controversially omitted from the Wales squad for next month's internationals. In the second half, Leinster cut loose, with Denis Hickie running in two tries and Brian O'Driscoll and Malcolm O'Kelly claiming one apiece to add to Shane Horgan's first-half touchdown.

Also in Pool B, Newport chalked up their first victory of the season at the ninth attempt when they saw off Borders 24-8 at Rodney Parade. Borders led through a Kevin Utterson penalty and Nicky Walker try, but Newport eventually imposed themselves when Hal Luscombe and the former England back-row forward Steve Ojomoh went over. Jason Strange kicked four penalties for the hosts.

In Pool A, Arwel Thomas kicked 18 points as Swansea returned to winning ways with a 33-20 success over Ebbw Vale. The All Whites had conceded 160 points in their previous three matches.

Christian Califano and Franck Tournaire, erstwhile front-row colleagues with France and Toulouse, and Austin Healey and Andy Goode, former fly-half rivals with champions Leicester, are set to face each other in the Zurich Premiership at Vicarage Road this afternoon.

The Tigers' captain, Martin Johnson, will be anxious to avoid trouble. After the sides met two years ago he was banned for five weeks for breaking Duncan McRae's ribs, and last year he collected a three-week ban for punching Robbie Russell.

With Paul Burke and David Slemen both injured, the England centre Will Greenwood starts at fly-half for the first time today in Harlequins' visit to the bottom club, Bristol.

Northampton welcome back the England hooker Steve Thompson from a one-match suspension and the Scotland centre John Leslie from the birth of his second child for their visit to London Irish.

The England full-back Jason Robinson returns for Sale's visit to Newcastle but his team-mates Charlie Hodgson and Alex Sanderson will be missing with knee and shoulder problems respectively.

Worcester opened up a four-point lead in National League One with a 74-8 mauling of Moseley. Tom Richardson, deputising at scrum-half for the suspended Werner Swanepoel, helped himself to a hat-trick of tries. Dan Ward-Smith went one better with four touchdowns in Plymouth Albion's 39-36 win at Rugby, while another high-scoring thriller, in which third-placed Birmingham/Solihull visited fourth-placed Exeter, finished 35-35. Rotherham can pull level with Worcester today if they beat visitors Wakefield.

South Africa coach Rudolf Straueli has included eight new faces in his 26-man squad for next month's tour of France, Scotland and England. He has rewarded the Blue Bulls for winning the Currie Cup by naming three of their forwards – flanker Pedrie Wanneburg, lock Bakkies Botha and prop Wessel Roux. Also called up are flanker Pierre Uys, prop Deon Carstens, lock Marco Wentzel, utility back Friedrich Lombaard and centre Jean de Villiers.

South Africa tour party: Backs: W Greeff, B Russell, B Paulse, D Hall, F Lombaard, M Joubert, B James, J de Villiers, R Fleck, A Pretorius, J Conradie, N de Kock. Forwards: C Krige (capt), P Wannenburg, P Uys, J van Niekerk, J Labuschagne, V Matfield, B Botha, M Wentzel, J Dalton, L van Biljon, W Meyer, L Sephaka, D Carstens, W Roux.


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