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RUGBY UNION Moseley miss out on chance to make most of weak Saints; Northampton 36 Moseley 19.

Moseley gave themselves a formidable uphill battle in this year's Cheltenham & Gloucester Cup at Franklin Gardens last night as they failed to cash in against an understrength Northampton side.

The joint Allied Dunbar league leaders, with five men away on international duty, were forced to put out a second string line up after being further weakened by injury.

But Moseley, still reeling from last week's 58-18 defeat at Bristol, never really looked like ending up getting anything other than another comprehensive beating.

Just four minutes had gone when home stand-off Andy Blyth dummied his way in at the right corner, only to miss with his conversion attempt.

And although Moseley responded with a few menacing bursts of their own, one particularly penetrating break falling frustrating just short in the left corner, all they had to show for their efforts was a penalty miss by winger Steffan Jones, returning aft er missing last Sunday's miserable Memorial Ground experience with the flu.

The Northampton lead was doubled on 24 minutes when No8 Grant Seely forced his way over, Blyth again missing with the kick.

And when Harvey Thorneycroft was stopped short of the Moseley line illegally to cap a string of persistent offences, Northampton benefited to the tune of a harshly awarded penalty try, Blyth this time taking full advantage from in front of the posts.

Trailing 17-0 at the break, it was made to look even worse for Moseley when lock Jason Chandler and former England wing Jon Sleightholme both scored within 12 minutes of the restart, Martin Tucker improving the fourth Northampton try.

But Moseley were given a lifeline when the Saints were adjudged to have sinned and second row John Phillips was red-carded for obstructing the referee, not helped, it has to be said, by a stray elbow to the disadvantage of Moseley sub Richard White.

With an extra man advantage for the final halour, Moseley responded rapidly by crossing for two tries in the space of six minutes.

First hooker Richard Protherough, within ten minutes of coming back on for Simon Hubbleday, scored in the corner.

And although Jon Smart missed with the kick he soon landed his second attempt from wide out on the right after White had forced his way over.

Home fulack Richard Jackson looked to have ended the brief Moseley revival when he got on the end of a neat move two minutes from time, Blyth's boot for once doing the business.

But at least Moseley had the final word, late sub Martin Roberts crossing in injury time, Smart's conversion making the scoreline look even more heartwarming as his conversion dropped in off the post.

If nothing else, Moseley's three late tries were reward for the spirit they showed, even in the face of their current adversity.

The second leg will be played at The Reddings a week tomorrow.

NORTHAMPTON: Jackson; Thorneycroft, Tucker (Jones, 64), Allen, Sleightholme; Blyth, Malone; Volland (Todd, 40), Johnson (Walter, 64), Stewart, Phillips, Chandler, S Hepher, Seely (Foale 64), Allan.

MOSELEY: Binns; Simpson, Martin, Ayeb, Jones; Smart, Chudleigh (Bemond, 67); Long (Fortey, 67) , Protherough (Hubbleday, 45), Mackinnon, Hall (White, 40), Healy, Mellors (Adams, 35), Short, Drake-Lee.

Exeter power play too much for Worcester

Worcester 17

Exeter 31

By PAUL WESTMACOTT

--

Worcester lost to a committed Exeter side in the first leg of the Cheltenham & Gloucester Cup at Sixways last night.

It was a lacklustre performance by the Golden Blues who had beaten Exeter in the league quite easily earlier in the season.

Worcester director of rugby, Les Cusworth, said: "We made ten changes from our usual league side but that's no excuse we still like to win games. We will need to play a lot better when we go to the second leg next week.

"It's not lost but the Exeter forwards were superb."

Exeter scored five tries to Worcester's two and led 26-3 at halime.

Worcester gave former Cheltenham fulack Mike Crisp his debut, but Exeter made the perfect start after eight minutes when centre Murray Craig made the break to send second row Rob Baxter clear to score under the post.

Brian Easson added the conversion.

Worcester came back with a Richard Le Bas penalty after 14 minutes, their only score in the half.

The big Exeter forwards completely dominated the home defence and flank forward Gary Willis and two tries from No8 Bob Armstrong stunned the large Sixways crowd.

Worcester scored tries from No 8 Jim Jenner and scrum half Ben Harvey but again Exeter came back and finished the stronger of the two sides with Armstrong scoring his third try to put the West Country men in the driving seat for the second leg.

WORCESTER: Crisp, Myler, Morgan, Le-Bas, Baxter, Malone, Harvey, Broady (Bull 49), Beddow, Lyman, Denhardt, Bailey, Orgee, Richardson, Jenner.

EXETER: Rose, Woodman, Webber, Craig, Hargreaves, Eassom, Pellow, Sluman (Kershaw 65) Ryan, Alvis, Baxter, Cross, Willis, Hutchinson, Armstrong.

Referee: Geoff Warren (Bristol Society and RFU).
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 28, 1998
Words:821
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