Orrell drowned in rusty Bath

Rugby Union: Orrell 13 Bath 56
Click to follow
The Independent Online
So that's entertainment. Professional rugby shuffled on to centre stage at Edge Hall Road and just about lived up to its surroundings. Given that Orrell's ground remains as cramped, scruffy and half-baked as ever, the two sides found themselves in their natural habitat.

True, there was plenty to admire in an adventurous last 20 minutes of thrust and counter-thrust, but the previous hour had amateurism stamped all over it. Bath will improve, and even at this early stage it would be a brave move to bet against them hanging on to at least one of the trophies in their silverware cabinet. With at least pounds 150,000 worth of rugby league talent still to be shoe-horned into the side, yesterday's misfire will not worry them unduly.

Even without the internationals Phil de Glanville and Jon Sleightholme - both gave best to shoulder injuries in advance of next weekend's renewal of hostilities with Leicester - they won at a canter. One or two big names looked as though they would rather have been on the beach, but they will be back in work mode at Welford Road.

The concern for Orrell is that they lost by more than 40 points to a side which shifted out of neutral only in the final quarter. The northerners fielded such a lightweight pack that their own league recruits - Frano Botica, David Lyon and the combative Nigel Heslop - were never likely to see much of the ball.

Strange to relate, Orrell were still in the game as the first half was drawing to a close. A solitary penalty from Jon Callard and a short-range try by Andy Nicol saw Bath a mere eight points up and looking unusually confused and leaden-footed. As so often, though, the champions scored with the last attack of the half, Jeremy Guscott making the running for a second Callard three-pointer.

It was enough to enable the former England full-back to find his range. He banged over three more penalties in the opening 12 minutes of the second period, and with Mike Catt adding an audacious 45-metre drop goal, Bath were suddenly out of sight at 30-3.

Cue the runners. Richard Webster, quite outstanding, announced his return to the union fold with a bullocking score on the hour, and Simon Geoghegan made it 11 tries from 11 league appearances four minutes later. The Irishman was injured in the process but the rookie replacement Mike Horne immediately scored with his first touch.

The final 12 minutes were frenzied to say the least. Orrell claimed consolation tries through Lua Tuigamala and Heslop but Bath, kings of the last word, responded in kind as Catt and Martin Haag took them past the 50-point mark.

Orrell: R Hitchmough; J Naylor, D Lyon, L Tuigamala, N Heslop; F Botica, S Cook; M Worsley (R Hanson, 16 min), A Moffat, S Turner, C Cusani, P O'Neill, A Bennett, A MacFarlane, J Huxley.

Bath: J Callard; S Geoghegan (M Horne, 65 min), J Guscott, M Perry, A Adebayo; M Catt, A Nicol; D Hilton, G Adams, V Ubogu, M Haag, N Redman, R Webster, E Peters, A Robinson.

Referee: S Piercy (Yorkshire).