London Scottish. . . .10
ARE Orrell always destined to stand in other sides' shadows? Second in the championship, they also usually yield pride of place in Wigan to their more glamorous Rugby League rivals from the other side of town.
The indications are that nothing much will change this season. Yesterday's victory over London Scottish may have been a first step forward in this season's championship campaign, but it was a faltering one, hardly the confident stride needed to win the league.
In truth, the clash was a struggle between also-rans. The newly promoted Exiles justified their place in the top division, but without promising any great threat to its longer-standing tenants. Orrell were workmanlike but hardly swashbuckling, offering honest toil rather than flair.
Dewi Morris, the home and England scrum-half, did his level best to inject some urgency with his continual darting runs. He was crucial to both home tries: first, he hoisted a pin-point kick from the base of the scrum. It landed bang on the Scottish line for the flanker Neil Ashurst to crash on to; for the second, Morris was caught in full flight but released the ball with an overlap there to be exploited - London Scottish ran out of tacklers before Orrell ran out of space.
These two tries provided just enough of a cushion to protect the home side from fierce Scottish retaliation in the second half. The centre Mark Sly played to his name, selling dummies like they were on special offer in a bargain basement sale. The hooker Logan Mair was on hand to trundle over after openings had been made.
With only a try between the sides, at least an element of excitement then remained - there was the odd race for the ball over the line, the occasional mad scramble down the wing.
It may have been just early-season nerves, but both sides continually opted for the less adventurous path - rather than running, good possession was often squandered, thumped away with ill-judged kicks. Neither side chose the quick, accurate, passing between forwards and backs which the most successful sides will surely need to master. The fluidity that the new laws are meant to impart simply didn't occur.
It wasn't the fault of the French referee. Despite the current British penchant for always blaming the wicked foreigner, M. Lasaga had largely a happy game. What he lacked in English verbal skill, he made up for with characteristic Gallic gestures.
Indeed, the chat was left to the scrum-half Dewi Morris. On this evidence, he and the side he leads will need more than talk to make the final, immense step to the top this season.
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, N Ashurst, S Hayter, P Manley.
London Scottish: M Appleson; N Grecian, M Sly, R Eriksson, L Renwick; R Cramb (cap), D Millard; D Denham, L Mair, P Burnell, R Scott, D Cronin, N Provan, I Macleod (D Signorini, 30 min), D White.
Referee: N Lasaga (French RFU).
Scores: Ashurst (try 10 min) 5-0, Ainscough (pen 20 min) 8-0, Halsall (try 39 min) 13-0, Mair/Appleson (try/cons 42 mins) 13-7, Appleson (pen 67 mins) 13-10.Reuse content