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  1. Nick Powell

Poll shows increased Labour lead in Wales

Labour has reached 40% support in Wales for the first time in recent polls Credit: YouGov/ITV/Cardiff University Jan 24-27, Sample: 1,189

The first Welsh opinion poll of the General Election campaign shows that Labour has slightly improved its position, reaching 40% for the first time in nearly a year. YouGov's latest Welsh Barometer Poll for ITV Cymru Wales and Cardiff University still puts the party well below the 50% plus it was polling before UKIP support started to climb two years ago. But it's 4% higher than the 2010 General Election result.

If opinion doesn't shift further during the election campaign, that should be enough to deliver Labour a couple of extra seats on May 7. The Conservatives on 25% are just 1% down on the result five years ago and Plaid Cymru's 11% shows no change on 2010. Those figures put both parties on course for no overall change in the number of Welsh seats they hold.

The inequalities built into the electoral system mean that the Liberal Democrats, down 15% on 5% can still hope to hold on to at least one seat but UKIP, up 12% to 14% are not on course to break through in any Welsh constituencies. The Greens are similarly disadvantaged, despite being neck and neck with the Liberal Democrats in this poll.

Big wins for Ospreys and Newport as Scarlets fall to defeat

It was a mixed day for Welsh regions in the PRO12 yesterday, with Newport Gwent Dragons and Ospreys picking up big wins, but Scarlets going down 26-15 at home to Edinburgh.

Tom Prydie put in a man of the match performance for Newport. Credit: PA

The Dragons moved ahead of south Wales rivals Cardiff into ninth place in the table courtesy of a 32-17 bonus-point victory against fellow strugglers Treviso yesterday.

Newport were worthy winners in northern Italy and gained maximum points thanks to a late brace of tries from Tom Prydie, after earlier touchdowns from Jonathan Evans and Hallam Amos.

Prydie capped off a man-of-the-match display with three conversions and two penalties for a match haul of 22 points.

Sam Davies contributed 16 points with the boot for Ospreys. Credit: PA

Meanwhile at the Liberty Stadium Number eight Dan Baker crossed for two tries as the Ospreys cruised back into the top four with a 53-22 bonus-point victory over bottom team Zebre.

In all Ospreys scored seven tries through Baker (two), Josh Matavesi, Scott Baldwin, Rhys Webb, a penalty try and Hanno Dirksen, while Sam Davies contributed 16 points with the boot.

The Zebre tries came from Dion Berryman, Giulio Toniolatti and Alberto Chillon, with Gonzalo Garcia supplying a penalty and Mirco Bergamasco kicking two conversions.

The Ospreys' 12th victory leaves the region in fourth place, four points ahead of Leinster in fifth.

Gareth Davies was sent off in a disappointing day for Scarlets. Credit: PA

Elsewhere Scarlets replacement scrum-half Gareth Davies was sent off as Edinburgh earned a 26-15 victory at Parc y Scarlets.

Davies, who came on in Wales' Six Nations win in Italy last weekend, saw red from referee John Lacey on 60 minutes for a head butt on Andries Strauss, an incident which was reviewed by TV match official Derek Bevan.

Edinburgh's victory came thanks to tries for Phil Burleigh and Dave Denton with man of the match Sam Hidalgo-Clyne kicking 16 points. All of Scarlets' points came from Steve Shingler's five first-half penalties.

It was Edinburgh's first win over the Scarlets for three years - a run of 13 matches - and moved them above the Welsh region to seventh in the overall standings.

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