Edinburgh Reivers ......... 21 Neath ......... 18

Edinburgh Reivers continued their bid to resurrect their season at Kelso's Poynder Park last night as they hung on to claim a second successive Celtic League win.

The victory, which took them above Scottish rivals Glasgow Caledonian Reds for a minimum of 16 hours, was hard earned against a side they had beaten twice in the Heineken European Cup earlier in the season, but lost to in their previous league meeting.

It was, though, a promising start for Bob Easson in his role as caretaker head coach, following the Reivers management reshuffle in midweek.

''We played some good rugby out there,'' he said afterwards.

''The continuity was better, we got through a lot more phases of play and we were more enterprising than we have been.

''The players were just encouraged to be bold.''

That was clearly an approach which particularly suited Scottish rugby's brightest young talent Chris Paterson, whose two early tries on only the third appearance of his career at full-back - the previous two have both been for Scotland - sent his side on their way.

''He took his first try beautifully and demonstrated the benefit of having electric pace available to you,'' observed Easson.

Paterson having being widely praised for his performance on his return to his preferred position at stand-off for Scotland A last week, the decision to switch him to the position where he was capped against Spain was certainly vindicated.

The player himself is known to have reservations about moving away from the play-making area, but Scotland backs coach John Rutherford believes that playing at full-back will help his overall development, and his performance in the first quarter in particular, certainly did no harm for his confidence.

Neath had enjoyed much the better of the opening exchanges with the wind at their backs before the Reivers finally fought their way into the Welsh side's 22.

Captain Carl Hogg, again leading by example as he had in the win over Dunvant, was out in the midfield to force his way through and create the half break which allowed Paterson, making a brilliantly angled run, to slice clean through and under the posts for the opening try, converted by Duncan Hodge.

Cerith Rees responded with two penalties as Neath continued to dominate territorially, but another excellent piece of work by Paterson, coming off the right wing to link with the man whose jersey he wants, Hodge, took Reivers deep into the Welsh half again.

The Reivers' pack, working more cohesively than they have for several weeks, maintained control, driving deep into the 22, before releasing the ball to Hodge who grubber kicked through, with Paterson winning the race to the touchdown.

Given the amount of time they spent in the Reivers half it would have been hard on Neath had they turned behind and they did claim the lead when scrum-half Patrick Hogan's chip over the Reivers' defensive line forced Marcus Di Rollo to turn, allowing Kevin James to get past him and reach the ball first as it crossed the try-line.

Thereafter, however, Di Rollo was particularly prominent, making a series of thrusts down the left touchline as Reivers safely negotiated their way to the interval with only a single point deficit.

The re-start was, then, the cue for former Watsonians half-back pair Graeme Burns and Hodge to exert their authority on proceedings and their intelligent kicking kept Neath pinned back.

The Welsh side's frustration began to come through in ill discipline, winger Kevin James the first offender, tackling Di Rollo early as he waited under a high ball and Hodge struck the penalty sweetly from wide on the left.

Hodge's next was an even better effort from 44 metres out on the right after Rees was sent to the sin bin for what appeared to be a deliberate obstruction on a supporting player as Paterson broke down the right wing.

Hodge, having found his range, provided the Scotland selectors with another gentle remindeer of the importance of reliable goal-kicking. A high tackle on Martin Leslie was another bad blunder by the visitors, so the stand-off again made perfect contact from close to the left touch-line.

Two scores behind and with their play-maker off the pitch, Neath looked out of it at that stage, but they battled on gamely and, shortly after Rees' return, some fine continuity play of their own produced a try which guaranteed a tense finish, replacement Delme Williams completing the move by breaking two tackles to go over on the left.

Reivers were, though, able to afford the luxury of a missed Hodge penalty in the closing stages as they held on, but they know that the schedule only gets more difficult from now on.

''The games just get harder from here, but therein lies the challenge,'' said Easson.

There was a minor scare for the national selectors as Hodge was taken to hospital after the match to have a cheekbone injury examined, but it was understood to be merely a precautionary check and not thought to be serious.

Edinburgh Reivers - C Paterson; K Milligan, J Hita, G Shiel, M Di Rollo; D Hodge, G Burns; A Jacobsen, S Scott, B Stewart; A Lucking, I Fullarton, M Leslie, G Dall, C Hogg.

Neath - M Singer; K James (D Williams 54min), T Tieuti (J Storey 67), T Davies, S Williams; C Rees, P Hogan (R Jones 77); D Jones, M Davies, A Millward, A Codling, S Martin (A Jackson 17), R Phillips, B Sinkinson, S Van Rensburg.

Referee - C Muir (Langholm).

Scoring sequence (Reivers first): 7-0, 7-3, 7-6, 12-6, 12-13 (half-time); 15-13, 18-13, 21-13, 21-18.

Scorers: Reivers: Tries - Paterson (8,17). Conversions - Hodge (8). Penalty - Hodge (52,57,66). Neath: Tries - James (21), D Williams (71). Conversions - Rees (21). Penalties - Rees (10,13).