Leicester discover that points are the only point

Leicester 22 Orrell 3
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The Independent Online
When John Liley converted the only try in the closing stages of a dire match, he ran back down the touchline exhorting the crowd to offer more vocal encouragement. It was a tribute to the most devoted following in club rugby that there was still a crowd left for him to wave at.

How long Leicester will continue to attract five-figure attendances with rugby of this artless nature is a moot point, although the Courage League in general has become so turgid that John Elliott, the Rugby Football Union's development officer, was not joking when he described this error-strewn mess as the best game he had seen all season.

Leicester's other worry is poaching. Rob Andrew is about to take his goals to Newcastle, and on the try front, the Underwood brothers - both sadly unavailable on Saturday - are now on Andrew's shopping list. Ian Smith, Leicester's coach, said: "Loyalty has always been this club's biggest asset, but if large sums of money start to get involved, we're going to have to do whatever it takes to keep our best players here."

One man Smith will not have to fret about is Dean Richards. His captain is a dyed in the fur Tigers' man, although Richards is serving a two-week suspension for giving a little bit too much for the cause. The irony of his second yellow-card offence was that the touchjudge who fingered the Hinckley PC was a retired police inspector.

Had Richards been available on Saturday, his talismanic presence might possibly have brought some urgency to a passionless performance. Leicester are still the biggest threat to Bath, but, as Smith said on Saturday: "The only satisfying thing about this game is that we scored more points than the opposition."

Leicester's progress off the field is mirrored by their recently acquired custom-built training ground, although maybe a return to their old public park across the road might rekindle the days when the likes of Cusworth and Woodward twinkle-toed their way through opposing defences. The old Rec provided toilet facilities to so many stray canines that even a prop forward learned how to sidestep.

The one player to offer occasional relief to long passages of set piece, maul, fumble, and stoppage was the Leicester full-back, John Liley, whose pace on the counter attack might have yielded more than the one try - which he set up for right winger, Steve Hackney, in the 70th minute - had the Underwoods been in harness.

Liley was successful with six kicks, but made a complete porridge of two sitters just after half time. Austin Healey tried to get Orrell's backs going, but it was a rarity when the crowd's decibel level competed with the referee's whistle.

Leicester: Try Hackney; Penalties Liley 5; Conversion Liley. Orrell: Penalty Mason.

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, S Potter, I Bates, A McAdam; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, C Johnson, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells (capt), C Tarbuck, N Back.

Orrell: S Mason; J Naylor, I Wynn, P Johnson (capt), G Smith; P Hamer (A Peacock, 58), A Healey; P Winstanley, A Moffatt, P Mitchell, S Bibby (H Parr, 76), C Cooper, J Huxley, P Manley, S Hayter.

Referee: J Pearson (Yarm).