Orrell 32 Wasps 29
Orrell have grown accustomed to turning corners to confound those critics who each September predict they will drop straight into the Second Division. The forecasts have been more vocal this autumn as retirements and injuries to key players signalled nothing more uplifting for Paul Johnson's team than a season-long grind in the relegation zone.
But, as Orrell have so often proved, no cause is beyond them until it has been irretrievably lost. On Saturday they welcomed Peter Williams back to Edge Hall Road, where he will take up his appointment as director of rugby in the New Year, some eight seasons after departing for Salford Rugby League Club. It was some homecoming.
For an hour, Orrell turned Wasps inside out with a lustrous display of precision handling and running of the persistence which earned Wasps so many admirers last term, and which has been produced by Orrell only rarely since Williams wore their No10 shirt.
However, by the final quarter of a wonderfully entertaining contest, the Orrell forwards, outsized and outweighed, were out on their feet. So as a short-term expedient, Orrell may now turn to Wade Dooley to bolster a lightweight pack which is badly in need of some bulk.
Dooley, 38 earlier this month, who won the last of his 55 caps 31 months ago, watched the match with Williams and expects this week to reach a decision about resuming his playing career. "Wade thinks he isn't fit enough," Phil Moss, their coach said, "though we can soon put that right. Wade could do a job for us, especially when we need to tighten things up where the smaller men and the youngsters are vulnerable."
Although Orrell were eventually outscored by five tries to four it was the accuracy of Simon Mason's goalkicking and the quality of their back play - which brought a hat-trick for the teenage left wing Graeme Smith - that were the foundations of the victory.
"After the hiatus at the club since Rob Andrew's move to Newcastle, we've had to throw the youngsters in at the deep end," Rob Smith, the Wasps coach, said. None did better than Andrew's replacement, Chris Braithwaite, or Peter Scrivener - who each got two tries - and the scrum-half Andy Gomarsall who claimed the other.
Orrell: Tries Smith 3, Healey; Conversions Mason 3; Penalties Mason 2. Wasps: Tries Scrivener 2, Braithwaite 2, Gomarsall; Conversions Ufton 2
Orrell: S Mason; L Tuigamala, I Wynn, P Johnson (capt), G Smith; P Hamer, A Healey; P Winstanley, A Moffatt, P Mitchell, S Griffiths, C Cooper, J Huxley (A Bennett, 74), S Bibby, P Manley.
Wasps: J Ufton; P Hopley, D Hopley, N Greenstock, S Roiser; C Braithwaite, A. Gomarsall; D Molloy, K Dunn, I Dunston, M Greenwood, R Kinsey, L Dallaglio (capt), P Scrivener, M White.
Referee: B Campsall (Halifax).