Orrell prepare for the unthinkable


Edge Hall Road, which as a cul-de-sac is quite literally a road to nowhere, is not readily reckoned a pathway to professionalism. But if Orrell have their way, it will be an exit route on a four-mile journey to Wigan and a professional love-in with the greatest rugby league club.

In other words, professionalism, which might have been thought a threat to modest clubs such as Orrell, is instead an opportunity, and after their 38-13 trouncing of Saracens at roughly the same time as Wigan were beating St Helens, the rugby union club can decently presume themselves to be a potential asset to their neighbours.

For Phil Moss, the old England B flanker, who coaches Orrell in conjunction with the England selector Mike Slemen, the move cannot come quickly enough. And if for now the only arrangement is for the Leicester match to take place at Central Park on 30 March, the intention - on Orrell's part, at any rate - is to make this their new home next season.

"A lot of die-hards here will disagree, but my personal view is that the sooner we get down to Central Park the better," he said. "As far as I am concerned, we have to work hand in hand with Wigan rugby league. We are on a professional footing and there are more talented rugby players within 10 square miles than possibly anywhere in the world. We have to tap in to that source."

Orrell may even end up using some of Wigan's players as well as their facilities - which may be heresy to some, including some at Edge Hall Road, but is simply their way of coping with the new dispensation. Saracens, by accepting a pounds 2.5m injection of cash from a property developer and signing the Australian outside-half Michael Lynagh, are employing different means, but to achieve the same end.

Whether Lynagh will be a First or Second Division player hangs in the balance. By losing so heavily in Lancashire in the only rearranged First Division fixture to be spared a further pre-international postponement, Saracens remained only four points ahead of penultimately-placed Gloucester, where they must play the final, fraught match of the season.

Though one can probably discount Gloucester's game in hand, since it is against Bath, their advantage over Saracens in points difference is now up to a substantial 65. Mark Evans, the Sarries' coach, considers 12 points, or another two wins, will suffice to stay up. But the next league games, in Saracens' case at Bristol, are not until 10 February and that makes these anxious times.

Not so for Orrell, who quite apart from the Wigan connection, have now reached Evans' 12-point target and, the middle of the First Division being tightly-packed, could yet qualify for next season's European competition - for which Edge Hall Road, like Sarries' Bramley Road, would be embarrassingly inadequate.

So, one has to say, would their team or, to be more specific, their forwards. It is one of the astonishments of recent times that Orrell, who were runners- up on points difference in the league in 1992 and cup semi finalists in 1991 with a pack of mastadons, are bereft of big ball-winners and so have metamorphosed their game into one of movement and pace to exploit the invariably limited possession that goes their way.

This was more or less how it transpired against Saracens, for whom the impressive England A captain Anthony Diprose dominated the line-out. Orrell, however, made a virtue out of various necessities, not least the enforced selection of reserve props which made no difference to, in fact may have enhanced, their scrummaging.

But with Saracens losing their captain Brian Davies with an ankle ligament injury, the critical comparison was in the loose where they missed their injured flankers, John Green and Richard Hill more than Orrell missed their props in the tight. So much so that Sarries turned over a plethora of ball to Orrell, whose voracious counter-attacking produced some exhilarating rugby once the dismal phoney war of the first half-hour had run its course. The rival hookers, Martin Scott and later Gregg Botterman received yellow cards for unfancy footwork.

Saracens' tries by Peter Harries and Harries' replacement, Kris Chesney, were the merest consolation. For Orrell, Simon Mason's 90-yard interception try on half time and Graeme Smith's second-half hat trick were the outward signs of an entirely laudable inner belief in the virtue of attacking rugby, even if Moss later admitted that his side's high ambition had a tendency to fail - notably in the thrashing by Sale a week earlier, as well as succeed.

The brilliant orchestrator was Austin Healey, a schoolboy scrum-half team-mate of Mason in Birkenhead, who became an adult wing and then reverted to fill the boots of the retired Dewi Morris. Better opponents would not give him such space but he is so swift over five or 10 yards, so sure of himself in taking the gap and so improved in his basic scrum-half functions that he is an England prospect already to savour.

Beyond the spritely Healey, Orrell have a superb opportunist in the teenaged Smith, a passer of the ball in the John Dawes mould in Ian Wynn and a full-back of burgeoning capability in Mason, who contributed 23 points. He has to be the only player to have left Newcastle of late.

This trio are local lads but Mason has opted for Ireland, and land of three of his grandparents, and the other two for Scotland. All may well go all the way for their adopted countries and though Slemen has sought to change Mason's mind before he makes his Ireland A debut this Friday, Orrell have long complained that their best players are pushed down the English pecking order. Healey is a different case: he is English all right, but if Leicester have their way he may not be at Edge Hall Road - or Central Park - for too much longer.

Orrell: Tries Smith 3, Mason; Conversions Mason 3; Penalties Mason 4. Saracens: Tries Harries, Chesney; Penalty Tunningley.

Orrell: S Mason; D Luger, I Wynn, L Tuigamala, G Smith; P Hamer, A Healey; J Russell, M Scott, P Mitchell, C Cusani, C Cooper, J Huxley, P Anglesey, P Manly (capt, S Bibby 52).

Saracens: A Tunningley; M Gregory, J Buckton, S Ravenscroft, P Harries (K Chesney 49); A Lee, B Davies (capt, P Friel, 21); R Andrews, G Botterman, G Holmes, M Langley, C Yandell, D Phillips, A Diprose, A Phillips.

Referee: B Campsall (Halifax)

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album