Glasgow Reds ....... 35

Dunvant ............... 27

CONSIDERING that Dunvant had, just a few weeks ago, conceded more than 100 points to league leaders Cardiff, this was an abysmal performance by the Reds in perfect conditions for the style of rugby they aspire to.

Yet, as the better coaches tend to, Richie Dixon was, publicly at least, determined to accentuate the positive and he was right to take consolation from finally having won a match that they had little right to.

''We've played really well sometimes this season and lost matches,'' he pointed out. ''This time, the players dug themselves into a hole but then dug themselves out again. To be honest, I felt the game should have been over after 20 to 25 minutes.

''However, this is symptomatic of our season - the players build things up well and then spoil it by over-embellishing at the end.

''There are things we have to hammer home. When you have people on the rack, you have to make them suffer.''

Dixon also gave substantial credit to Dunvant and the way they stuck to their task when it looked as if the game might have run away from them.

Having played and trained in poor conditions, Dunvant director of rugby Mark Perdue admitted that his side had been ill-equipped for such a glorious day on a firm pitch.

However, their big men hung in there and nearly earned a win which could have all but guaranteed that they avoid relegation.

Perdue and his men were particularly unhappy with referee Iain Ramage's award of the try which put the game beyond them when it looked very much as if Gordon Bulloch had dropped the ball in attempting to force his way over.

''I would say that it was a

questionable decision,'' said Perdue, choosing his words more carefully than captain Nicky Lloyd, who had loudly raised doubts over Ramage's objectivity as he returned to half way.

Perhaps of greatest concern to Dixon, though, should be that his side are still seen as such a soft touch in this Celtic League that Dunvant had targeted this trip as a game to win in their run-in.

''We definitely thought we could win here because we should have won at Dunvant and it was a very similar business this time,'' said Perdue.

He felt that silly mistakes had cost his side dear, when they first opted to run a kickable penalty towards the end, then conceded one at the other end which allowed Reds captain Rowen Shepherd to kick his men in front.

Since they have so much at stake in their dogfight with Caerphilly at the bottom, it was certainly harsh.

However, they really should not have been in the position they found themselves in, leading with only five minutes to go.

The Reds had dominated the early part of the game, but it was typical that they had only two penalties to show for that, whereas Dunvant scored a penalty of their own with their only trip to the opposition twenty-two in the first quarter.

The handling in midfield having been the biggest problem, it took a forward to show them how the direct approach can be rewarded when Gareth Flockhart powered on to a short pass from Jon Stuart and surged through untouched.

After Mark Thomas reduced the deficit with his second

penalty, Stuart was again instrumental in making a break as he came in on an excellent angle, the ever lively Donny Macfadyen offering support before putting Alan Bulloch through.

Fourteen points clear, the Reds looked to be cruising, yet they lost their concentration as Dunvant won a succession of close- range penalties before Lloyd managed to dive and scramble his way over the line.

Flockhart having caught the eye in the right way in the first half, there was cruel irony in the way the second began when, covering for full-back Tommy Hayes, he got his wires crossed with scrum-half Graeme Beveridge, threw a pass to no-one, and gifted a try to James Baker.

The Reds were lucky to stay on terms when Thomas became the first kicker to miss a strike at goal and it was the Welsh side who continued to apply the pressure to the extent that the Reds first try of the second period was very much against the run of play.

James Craig, who looked lively on the few occasions he was given the chance to run, stretched the defence on the Reds right and, when play was then switched swiftly left, Hayes, a half-time replacement for Glenn Metcalfe, made the overlapping run and had the pace to get in at the left corner.

Once again, though, the Reds immediately created problems for themselves as Baker was allowed to cruise through with astonishing ease for his second try moments later and Thomas' conversion gave Dunvant the lead for the first time.

With Irving struggling to impose himself, Dixon effectively made a triple switch, bringing Ian Jardine on, moving Shepherd to full back, and Hayes to stand-off, and immediately there was greater authority.

It took until the penalty awards at either end in 75 minutes before they got in front again, however, before the older Bulloch made things safe with that dis-puted try which left the Welsh with justification to feel hard done by.

Metfcalfe, meanwhile, was taken off as a precaution, according to his coach, having turned an ankle, with Dave Hilton, a second- half replacement for Alan Watt, also requiring treatment afterwards for a knock to a knee.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds - G Metcalfe (T Hayes 40); J Craig, J Stuart, R Shepherd, A Bulloch; B Irving (I Jardine 68), G Beveridge; A Watt (D Hilton 63-80), G Bulloch, G McIlwham, J White, D Burns, G Flockhart (R Reid 75), D Macfadyen, J Petrie.

Dunvant - G Davies; D Evans (A Killa 63), J Baker, W Lloyd, A Rees; M Thomas,

N Lloyd; F Faletau (B Grace 61), C Hawkins, A Howell (R Llewellyn 76), L Williams, E Katalau, N Thomas, C Thomas, K Tuipulotu (A Thomas 72).

Referee - I Ramage (Berwick).

Scoring sequence (Reds first): 3-0, 3-3,

6-3, 13-3, 13-6, 20-6, 20-13 (half-time); 20-20, 25-20, 25-27, 28-27, 35-27.

Scorers: Reds: tries - Flockhart (28), A Bulloch (36), T Hayes (59) G Bulloch (80); cons - Irving (28, 36, 80); pens - Irving (2, 14), Shepherd (75).

Dunvant: tries - Lloyd (39), Baker (45, 62); cons - M Thomas (39, 45, 62); pens - M Thomas (14, 31).