Rugby Union: Langford rallies insecure Orrell

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Orrell. . . . . . 13

London Scottish. .10

THESE DAYS a meeting of the coaching staff at Edge Hall Road resembles a war cabinet. Long after the end of a narrow escape at the hands of newly promoted London Scottish, who, but for a touch more self-belief would have won, the beleaguered Orrell first-team coach, Billy Lyon, and Simon Langford - drawing deeply on a soothing cigarette - were still pacing the car park.

However, no blame for the Lancastrian's anxieties could be apportioned to Langford. The big centre had the strength and presence of mind to bind in the core of the Scots' cover, freeing Steven Taberner who created just enough space to enable Phil Halsall to squeeze in at the corner. Even at 13-0 Orrell looked insecure. But for Langford, the Scots would have felt justified in reaching for the bagpipes.

Orrell's chairman of rugby, Des Seabrook, said afterwards, 'I feel like a new man.' What Seabrook meant by this remark of profound relief was that he could do with some new men. To be more specific, the quick return of his injured and unavailable big men.

This was the shortest Orrell pack fielded since their junior days. Shorn of three first-choice second row regulars, the home forwards could not have been more effectively dispossessed at the line-out by the bailiffs. In 52 touchline restarts, Orrell won clean ball just 11 times; only six of them on their own throw.

Given the overwhelming superiority of Damian Cronin, Derek White and the improving Rob Scott in this crucial area of play, the Scottish coach, Alastair McHarg, was disappointed that his team let the game slip away, despite having by far the better of the second period. 'We should have won,' McHarg said, 'but our distribution was poor and we allowed Orrell to apply pressure when we should have been doing so.'

Without saying as much, McHarg was indicting his half- backs, Dave Millard and Richard Cramb. With so much possession, both were unnecessarily profligate. Millard unwisely chose to take on the Orrell back row six times - five too many. Cramb's option-taking varied between the myopic and purblind.

Given these excesses Scottish hardly deserved to win, notwithstanding doubts that Halsall had hit the corner flag in the act of scoring and Mike Fielden should have been penalised for an illegal tackle on Mark Appleson, which led to Neil Ashurst's try.

Confidence schooling will be high on the agenda for Scottish as they prepare for Bristol on Saturday. At Orrell, the cabinet room lights will burn all week.

Orrell: Tries Ashurst, Halsall; Penalty Ainscough. London Scottish: Try Mair; Conversion Appleson; Penalty Appleson.

Orrell: S Taberner (capt); N Heslop, S Langford, M Fielden, P Halsall; G Ainscough, D Morris; M Hynes, N Hitchen, M Ridehalgh, S Gallagher, S Bibby, S Hayter, N Ashurst, P Manley.

London Scottish: M Appleson; N Grecian, M Sly, R Eriksson, L Renwick; R Cramb (capt), D Millard; D Denham, L Mair, P Burnell, R Scott, D Cronin, N Provan, I Macleod (A Withers- Green, 30), D White.

Referee: N Lasaga (France).