Underwood back in the running

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The Independent Online
The England wing Tony Underwood came safely through his first game since the World Cup but ended up on the losing side on his debut for his new club, Newcastle, who were beaten 20-19 by First Division West Hartlepool yesterday.

The former Leicester player looked sharp on his comeback following a summer knee operation, but Newcastle's hopes of causing an upset in the Pilkington Cup next Saturday when they face Harlequins were dented when their No 8 Dean Ryan, another recruit this season, limped off after 10 minutes with a calf injury. He had an operation on the same calf five weeks ago.

There is also a doubt over the fitness of the captain, Ross Wilkinson, who damaged ribs.

The game saw a direct competition between two Scottish scrum-halves - Newcastle's Gary Armstrong, who formed a formidable half-back pairing with Rob Andrew, just shading a lively contest with Derrick Patterson.

Newcastle were heading for victory until Patterson ran two quick penalties late on, leading to a try and a match-winning conversion.