Chapman cheers Quins: Rugby Union

Orrell 20 Harlequins 56
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On the question of whether they would survive in the First Division, Orrell have been so low in the opinion polls all season that this fixture was expected, with some justification, to be their Wirral South. After all, in the corresponding match at the Stoop last October they had all but lost their deposit, 89-16. The Monster Raving Loonies might have done better than that.

Obviously Quins were not too worried about their prospects. They rested Will Carling on the grounds that somebody has to be fit to turn up at the Arms Park on Saturday. And with a preposterous eight more games to play in only 34 days in the hope of improving on their fourth place in the League, they will have to be just as wary of injuries on their own account.

With Orrell rock bottom in the League, the Harlequins' victory by eight tries to two did little to alter the course of the season for either of them. But at least if Orrell are relegated, which looks a near certainty, yesterday they showed a tenacity which will make them awkward customers in the Second Division.

It took Harlequins less than a minute to score the opening try. Playing down the hill, they kept up the pressure they had built from the kick- off with a chip by Peter Mensah into the left corner. Jim Naylor on the Orrell right wing tried to snatch the ball, but only nudged it on for Dominic Chapman to drop on to for the try. Chapman, 21 the day before, and playing his first League game for the Quins, must have thought how shamefully people had exaggerated the difficulty of playing rugby at the top.

Not that there was to be much of that for the next 20 minutes while Mathew McCarthy, with his solid, reliable boot, and the elegant Thierry Lacroix ratcheted the score along with two penalty goals apiece. But out of the slowly smouldering play eventually came two virtuoso tries from the Harlequins which seemed to settle the game in their favour. The first was produced by an elusive, shadowy run along the right touchline by their scrum-half Huw Harries who, having made the breach, flicked the ball on to his wing Daren O'Leary to take the honours.

Two minutes later Peter Mensah, defending his line, charged down an Orrell kick and again fed Chapman, who this time had to run a full 80 metres to put down for his second try. Lacroix converted twice and Harlequins were a comfy 25-6 ahead.

Orrell, though, are not the side that the Quins met in the autumn, and before the interval McCarthy made a fine weaving run from 20 metres to score near the posts. His conversion meant that he had scored all 13 of Orrell's first-half points, leaving his side in with a muffled shout.

Even that was strangled three minutes into the second half when Lacroix ran through and converted a try from a tapped penalty. And the shout was mute when, in another three minutes, Chapman ran through for his third try, and his second from over 70 metres.

Next Mensah, who had been so effective as Chapman's minder, went through for a try on his own account. And though Steve Taberner scored near the Quins posts, discouragingly for Orrell, Bill Davison, the Quins number eight, almost immediately barged over at the other end to match him and even in the final minute, O'Leary got clear to score his second try. It was not the rout of their last meeting but in the end it came to the same thing.

Orrell: S Taberner; J Naylor, D Lyon (capt), L Tuigamala, R Hitchmough; M McCarthy, P Newton; J Cundick, N Hitchen, S Turner, C Cusani, P Rees, P Anglesea (T Wood, 65), J Huxbury (A Bennett, 40), R Higgs (R Rawlinson, 59).

Harlequins: S Pilgrim; D O'Leary, P Mensah, J Keyter, D Chapman; T Lacroix, H. Harries, J. Leonard (capt), T. Billups, L Benezech, G Llewellyn, A Snow, R Jenkins (G Allison, 62), B Davison, L Cabannes.

Referee: A Rowden (Reading)