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Darlington expect no mercy from mighty Quins
January 4, 2000

Darlington chairman John Parkinson admits his club's fairytale Tetley's Bitter Cup run is set to hit the buffers after the northern part-timers were paired with city slickers Harlequins in the last 16.

The Mowden Park director of rugby, who hailed the club's 23-11 fourth-round victory over Rosslyn Park as "the greatest day in the club's history" , was in resigned mood after the fifth-round draw handed them a trip to the capital.

"We've got some people down there who will have a look at them but it's a really tough one, there is such a gulf between the Premiership and the rest," he said.

"There is a sense of inevitability but we'll go and enjoy the occasion. We were hoping for a home draw but at this stage of the competition you are not going to get a soft option. It's been tremendous to get as far as we have."

Five divisions separate Quins from the North Two club, who are made up entirely of part-time players but who still managed to put out higher-ranked opposition in Sandal, Sedgley Park and Rosslyn Park in their gallant run so far.

Ten-times Cup winners Bath and struggling Bedford were the Premiership casualties from yesterday's fourth round ties and four more top-flight sides will go out before the quarter-finals.

Among four all-Premiership One ties, holders Wasps will meet Newcastle in a repeat of last year's final, while reigning league champions Leicester, who like Wasps received a bye into the fifth round, take on London Irish at The Stoop.

Thankfully it is a home draw and I suppose we would have had to play Leicester at some time so the next round might be as good a time as any," said London Irish director of rugby Dick Best.

Five of the eight ties, to be played on the weekend of January 29-30, will be in the capital, with Saracens drawing Northampton in another cracker.

Gloucester, the current Allied Dunbar Premiership leaders, were rewarded for their 13-6 win over Bath with another home tie, this time against Second Division Orrell, who went through after outscoring Rugby two tries to one in a 13-13 draw.

Manchester, in the last 16 for the first time in the club's history, have been handed a glorious chance to reach the quarter-finals with a home tie against Birmingham/Solihull.

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