Orrell outgunned

Orrell 27 Wasps 44
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Orrell, who pulled themselves up so successfully by their boot- laces in the Seventies, now look in danger of popping their clogs. This latest Division One defeat was their fifth in succession. And although they have had most of the big guns trained on them in the first part of the season, they show few signs of being bullet-proof against the poor bloody infantry they meet later.

It's a shame to see such a sturdily independent club as Orrell in this plight. They were the pioneers of self-help, heroic fund-raisers by raffle and fete, and one of the first to open up their club house profitably as a community centre. Their emergence coincided with the moment when competitive rugby began. Until then the clubs which were founding fathers of the game had made up their own fixture lists, and could exclude upstarts. But from now on clubs would rise by merit, and the leaders had no option but to play them.

It is ironic that the same market forces which took them to the top should now be dragging them down. Yesterday Frano Botica, whose winter contract Orrell had bought from Castleford, was named at stand-off in the programme. Instead, he was absent, still caught in a legal limbo between Orrell and Llanelli, the club he says he would prefer to play for. Orrell officials admitted that they didn't expect to see Botica in their side again, but said they weren't going to release him from a binding two-year contract until they were compensated for the loss of his signing fee and for their trouble.

This is a blow to Orrell who, for all their high spirits, lack a play- maker of Botica's class. Still, that lively optimism made a lot of trouble for Wasps as Orrell, playing with the slope and the wind, scored 10 points in the first 15 minutes. David Lyon, their most polished threequarter, scored a try as Va'aiga Tuigamala hesitated, and Martin Strett added a conversion and penalty.

But by the interval the Wasps' right-wing, Laurence Scrase, had gone over for two tries, the second set up by a superb dummy. Gareth Rees added one conversion and a penalty, and the same Tuigamala (who was playing opposite his brother Lua) produced a powerful run through the centre that proclaimed the future like a drum roll.

After that the deluge. WithWasps making more effective use of the wind to gain ground, and with Rees moving his sturdy frame up to centre to distribute the ball, first Shane Roiser and then Tuigamala were launched for two powerful tries, one on the right, the other on the left. The Wasps No 8, Chris Sheasby, ran through untouched for a try from a scrum on the Orrell 22-metre line, and Rees kicked another seven points.

What followed was an equally remarkable rally by Orrell, in which tries came from Nigel Heslop, Alan Bennett and Jim Naylor. But it was too late, and in the final moments Roiser went over for Wasps' final try and the last hoorah came from Rees's conversion.

Orrell: R Hitchmough; J Naylor, L Tuigamala, D Lyon (capt), N Heslop; M Strett, S Cook; I Wormsley, M Scott, S Turner, P Rees, P O'Neill, J Huxley (A. MacFarlane, 63), P Anglesea, A Bennett.

Wasps: G Rees; L Scrase, N Greenstock, V Tuigamala, S Roiser; A King, A Gomarsall; D Molloy, S Mitchell, M Griffiths, D Cronin, M Greenwood, M White, L Dallaglio (capt), C Sheasby.

Referee: T Spreadbury (Bristol).