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Rugby Union: Reds sow the seeds of Euro glory.. for next run at cup; Glasgow Caley 47 Edinburgh Reivers 10.

RAMPANT Reds turned on the style at Hughenden last night to take a giant leap towards claiming the tag of Scotland's top seeds in next season's Heineken Cup.

Not only did the home troops go one-up in the European Tri-Series with a 6-1 try-count but they also earned four vital points in their bid to climb the Celtic League.

To complete the Reivers' night of woe and create new worries for Scotland chiefs, flanker Martin Leslie and centre Chris Paterson were taken off injured.

Both now face a race to be fit in time for the Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome two weeks today.

Caley had the contest won by the interval after a first half full of brilliant handling which earned three touchdowns.

It was clear from the start that they were in the mood to keep the ball moving at every opportunity and they broke the deadlock in the third minute with a simple Tommy Hayes penalty when the Reivers crept offside in their own danger zone.

The opening try came almost immediately. Edinburgh full-back Stuart Lang's loose clearance was scooped up by Roly Reid, who launched the first phase of a potent attack.

The pacy South African born flanker was involved again along with Glenn Metcalfe to pave the way for skipper Andy Nicol to cruise over without a defender anywhere near him.

Caley deservedly and decisively increased their advantage in the 14th minute, thanks to an impressive burst of accelaration by winger Shaun Longstaff - who now looks certain to be in the Scotland line-up against Italy in the Six Nations opener in a fortnight.

He latched onto a short pass from Ian Jardine in the wake of a quickly taken tapped penalty and scooted through a half-gap to reach the line from 10 metres, giving Hayes another simple kick for the extra points.

Reivers hit back strongly to enjoy their first spell of pressure at the other end but all they had to show for their efforts was a 35-metre penalty by Duncan Hodge.

And the rest of the half belonged to stand-off Hayes, who looked sharper and hungrier than he had all season.

He slotted another penalty - then sprinted home from 40 metres for a marvellous solo try following the initial tap- penalty surge by hooker Gordon Bulloch.

Hayes landed the conversion from an awkward angle - then left the Reivers totally deflated by claiming his penalty hat-trick with a mighty strike from fully 50 metres.

Edinburgh suffered another double blow just after the restart as Hodge narrowly missed a long-range penalty chance to claw back three crucial points, and World Cup man Paterson was forced off with a knee problem and replaced by Marcus Di Rollo.

It took the Reds some time to get back into their earlier rhythm but after fine runs from Alan Bulloch and Longstaff the Reivers were on the back foot again.

And from another short penalty just five metres from the target it was substitute flanker Marty Waite who burrowed through for try No.4.

Young flanker Donnie MacFadyen's 20 metre charge deep into enemy territory then provided the platform for the next touchdown.

He was blocked a few paces short but a mammoth pass from Hayes enabled Waite to send Glenn Metcalfe skidding over. Hayes slotted the conversion from wide on the right.

The game's first major bust-up broke out two minutes later, with ref Jim Fleming sentencing rival props Gordon McIlwham and Barry Stewart to the sin-bin.

As Leslie left the fray with a shoulder injury, lock Andy Lucking galloped in for Reivers' consolation try, converted by Hodge - but it was too late to halt the tide.

And Gordon Bulloch hurtled onto a pass from front-row mate Dave Hilton to give Hayes the chance to round-off the rout with another accurate kick.

Despite the margin of his side's victory, Reds coach Richie Dixon wasn't 100 per cent satisfied.

He said: "In many ways, of course I am pleased - but there were more points for the taking out there.

"We lost the ball too frequently in contact and there is still a great deal we can improve on."

He added: "We are staying true to the type of rugby we have been trying to develop.

"When we play with pace and keep the intensity up we can be a pretty good side."

Reivers chief Ian Rankin admitted: "We were beaten by a much better and hungrier team on the night.

"I thought Caley played some fantastic stuff - especially David Hilton, who enjoyed himself out there.

"I was also impressed with Donnie MacFadyen, along with Glenn Metcalfe and Shaun Longstaff for their support running. I was on the other side of the same scoreline in the same game last year - and I know which experience I preferred."

GLASGOW CALEDONIANS: Metcalfe, McInroy, A Bulloch, Jardine, Longstaff, Hayes, Nicol, Hilton, G Bulloch, McIlwham, Campbell, White, Reid, McFadyen, Petrie. Replacements: Irving, Stark, Beveridge, Waite, Burns, Scott.

EDINBURGH REIVERS: Lang, Milligan, Paterson, Utterson, Sharman, Hodge, Fairley, Stewart, Scott, Proudfoot, Lucking, Fullarton, Mather, Leslie, Hogg. Replacements: Di Rollo, Lee, Burns, Hayter, Dall, McNulty, McKelvey
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Boyd, Kevin
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 22, 2000
Words:851
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