Rugby Union: Morris masters the gale

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The Independent Online
Harlequins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Orrell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 WELCOME to the less-than- wonderful world of water rugby. A game which needs a fierce but utterly unpredictable gale, the players to be periodically drenched by sudden tropical- style downpours and a ball as slippery as a well-soaped eel.

All these conditions were on hand yesterday, producing a game closer to roulette than running rugby. In this lottery, Orrell prevailed through tenacity, particularly in the front row. And of course through their captain, Dewi Morris.

Morris typically snatched the single try that was characteristic of the game: Quins won a scrum near their own line, Rob Kitchin sent out the sort of clean pass which Jeff Alexander, the centre, would normally catch with his eyes closed, but somehow, however, it slipped from his grasp behind the line and Morris simply pounced.

Quins might have won if they had landed the kickable penalties that came their way, but they struck unlucky both with these and with the weather. As they switched ends so the wind, which had been billowing against them in the first half, dropped to nothing. But really it was a matter of tactics. Keith Richardson, the Quins coach, said afterwards: 'You play the game to play the weather. We should have kicked far more.'

One of Quins' problems this season has been that they have not had anyone to grab a game and shake it their way. Brian Moore has made a good fist of bucking up the pack, but in his absence Will Carling was anonymous both as a captain and player. When he left with a twisted ankle (which should not keep him out for long) there was little sense of loss.

Morris, in contrast, played the captain's role well, invariably whipping up the back at crucial moments, as when Quins were camped on his line and he cranked the pack up to win a try-saving maul.

It was not a game for kickers. Will Greenwood got a couple of penalties for Quins, but missed the kick which would have snatched back the lead near full-time. His opposite number, Simon Langford, landed the sole Orrell penalty.

Harlequins: W Greenwood; J Kayter (J Cassell, 63), W Carling (capt; R Glenister, 48), J Alexander, G Thompson; C Wright, R Kitchin; J Leonard, J Hamilton-Smith, N Collins, A Snow, B Davison, T Coker, C Sheasby, M Pepper.

Orrell: S Langford; J Naylor, I Wynn, P Johnson, A Healey; P Hamer, D Morris (capt); P Winstanley, T Redmond, J Cundick, C Cooper, C Brierley, P Manley, D Cleary, S Bibbey.

Referee: E Morrison (Gloucester).