Edinburgh Eagles ..... 48

Portobello Playboys . 20

Edinburgh Eagles made up for the disappointment of defeat in the first-ever rugby league Scottish grand final when they deservedly defeated Portobello Playboys in the second at Hughenden yesterday afternoon.

''That was what we aimed to do at the start of the season,'' said their most experienced player, hooker and captain Kevin Rudd, who 10 years ago saw a potential career with Castleford thwarted by injury.

The Eagles now qualify for the first round of the Silk Cut Challenge Cup and with it the national spotlight.

''It's amateur teams at that stage,'' said Rudd. ''I've played in the Challenge Cup in the past and there's no reason why we can't aim for the third round when the professionals come in.''

Portobello had inflicted the Eagles' single defeat of the season when they won the very first match of the league stage.

Yesterday, Portobello managed to live with Edinburgh for the opening 30 minutes, but their defensive weaknesses were exposed in the run-up to the break, with the Eagles opening the points gap from 14-8 to 30-8 in 10 minutes.

However, the Playboys belied their name by showing character and continuing to make a match of it.

''We were handicapped by injuries, which cut the size of the squad during the match on a hot day,'' commented Portobello player-coach David Hardy. ''But there's no doubt the Eagles deserved their win.

Having produced a beautiful pick-up to keep the Eagles first attack flowing, Neil Mathews opened the scoring in five minutes. Six minutes later, Steve Bissett squeezed over to give Eagles an 8-0 lead.

Portobello had less possession but more guile and drew level with tries from Mike Montgomery, after an Eagles' handling error, and Chris Thomas, after the defence had been unlocked by a pass from Dave Hardy.

However, slack defence let Rudd over for the Eagles to edge ahead and the first half ended with two tries from Simon May and a single from Euan Craig, who hared in from 50 metres.

As the second half progressed, the Eagles gradually stretched away and, despite a brave Playboys recovery, were always a step ahead.

Fittingly, Rudd gave his side the last word in setting up the final try, which was scored by prop Martin Murray, with Daniel Oesthuizen putting over his fourth conversion.

Edinburgh Eagles: E Craig, A Dalglish, M Nesbitt, S Bissett, D Oesthuizen, N Mathews, B Clement, M Murray, K Rudd (capt), T McGee, C Brown, C O.Neill, S May, K-J Daniel, E Lorimer, G Boyd, D Stephen, W Drever.

Portobello Playboys: B Napier, L Parkes, C Thomas, C Wands, A Glass, D Hardy, R Vaughn, S McLennan, D Ward, R Walls, M Montgomery, C Sinclair, R Galloway, D Linton, D Roarty, J Currie, C Williamson, V Rickis, K Bulloch.

Referee: G Maxwell (RFL).

qNew Zealand showed once again why they are favourites to lift the World Cup when they beat South Africa 34-18 in Pretoria.

The Tri-Nation's defeat was the hosts' fourth successive Test loss and came in front of a capacity crowd.

Fly-half Andrew Mehrtens effectively won the game for the All Blacks, who led 20-11 at the break, by kicking seven penalties, punishing South Africa's frequent elementary errors.

The injury-riddled, but vastly improved Springboks, captained for the first time by Joost van der Westhuizen, were dealt another cruel blow when centre Andre Snyman fractured his ankle.

Although Van der Westhuizen increased his South African try-scoring record to 26, touching down early in the first half, the game belonged to the All Blacks, who produced their trademark counter-attacking flair.