Orrell find Central Park is no place like home

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The Independent Online
Orrell 11 Bath 44

All Orrell could manage after the second episode of the experiment to stage games at Central Park was an assortment of stiffish upper lips and weak smiles once it became clear that the venture has fallen flat on its face.

One man grinning from ear to ear was the former Orrell scrum-half, Brian Ashton, now the Bath coach. "It was to our benefit playing here," he said. "Orrell robbed themselves of home advantage. We've invariably struggled against them when we've come up to Edgehall Road."

Although Orrell were hardly a power in the land last season, in the corresponding match Bath scrambled a 6-6 draw. At home to Leicester the Lancastrians only went down 6-0.

In the space of a month against England's top two, Orrell have scored just 21 points while conceding 82 and alienated many of their supporters in the process. By no stretch of the imagination can the Central Park trial be deemed a success.

If Orrell's prime reason to move the three miles into the town centre and play at Wigan Rugby League's ground was to attract bigger crowds and up the revenue potential the plan flopped badly. Against Leicester 3,600 attended. On Saturday, a paltry 2,650 paid. Orrell could reasonably have expected at least another 1,000 on their own patch.

Not that any of this intruded upon Bath's well-focused minds. They needed to improve their points-difference superiority over Leicester just in case the Tigers, with a game in hand, get a hatful against a weakened Gloucester at Welford Road on Wednesday.

At times Bath did so quite brilliantly. With tries from Phil de Glanville, Andy Nicol and two apiece for Martin Haag and Jon Sleightholme, they have extended their advantage to 85.

Orrell: Try Wynn; Penalties Healey, Mason. Bath: Tries Haag 2, Sleightholme 2, De Glanville, Nicol; Conversions Callard 4; Penalties Callard 2.

Orrell: S Mason (S Taberner, 30); I Wynn, P Johnson (capt), L Tuigamala, G Smith; A Peacock, A Healey; P Winstanley, M Scott (A Moffatt, 72), R Rawlinson, C Cusani, P O'Neill, J Huxley, P Manley (P Anglesea, 63), T Woods.

Bath: J Callard; J Sleightholme, P de Glanville, (capt; A Webber, 47), A Adebayo, A Lumsden; M Catt, A Nicol; K Yates, G Dawe, J Mallett, M Haag, N Redman, S Ojomoh, A Robinson, E Peters.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).