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IRELAND'S hopes of a morale boosting win before next week's first test against South Africa were dashed when they were beaten 12-6 by Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.

The win was Province's first under new coach Alan Solomons.

The wet conditions heavily favoured Ireland and they had Province on the back foot for the first 10 minutes.

But Province drew first blood when flyhalf Louis Koen converted a 33rd minute penalty.

His opposite number David Humphreys, who came on for the injured Eric Elwood seven minutes into the match, levelled the score with a penalty early in the second half.

But Ireland's penchant for straying offside cost them as two further penalties by Koen left them trailing by six points with 17 minutes left.

Facing a final onslaught from Province, who struggled to find a way through the solid Irish defence, Humphreys kept his side in the game when he narrowed the gap to 9-6 with his second penalty.

But a fourth Koen penalty in the dying minutes sealed Ireland's fate.

Ireland - 15-Conor O'Shea, 14-Justin Bishop, 13-Kevin Maggs, 12-Mark McCall, 11-Denis Hickie, 10-Eric Elwood (David Humphreys 7), 9-Conor McGuinness, 8-Dion O'Cuinneagain, 7-Andrew Ward, 6-David Corkery (Victor Costello 56), 5-Malcolm O'Kelly, 4-Paddy Johns, 3-Paul Wallace, 2-Allen Clarke, 1-Justin Fitzpatrick (Peter Clohessy 70).

Italy have gone through to the qualifying round of next year's Rugby World Cup by beating Croatia 39-27 in Makarska.

Frano Botica, the former All Black who played rugby league for Wigan and Castleford, kicked a penalty for Croatia.

The draw for the next round involving England, Scotland and Ireland takes place next Friday at Cardiff International Arena.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Hyde, David
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 7, 1998
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