Rugby Union / Pilkington Cup Quarter-Finals: Hamer keeps Orrell in hunt: Late try eliminates Gloucester

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PERSEVERANCE pays and Orrell, who had drawn a very short straw indeed in this all-First Division tie, seized their moment and advanced to only a fourth semi-final appearance in the cup when Paul Hamer stunned the faithful yesterday. Given a kick to chase, the wing hurled into the corner and got his fingers to the ball with 15 minutes to go. Goodbye Gloucester.

It was the third meeting between the pair at this stage of the competition with the honours hitherto even. Gloucester, though, had the psychological edge following their league win at Edge Hall Road early last December.

Muddy pitch apart, though, the initial problem for the visitors centred on the line-out, where anyone matched alongside Richard West appeared to be standing in a trench. West is 6ft 8in, 17st and at 22 is already a considerable handful. What on earth they feed them on nowadays, heaven knows, but Gloucester would have been only too happy to contribute to the tab after the lock's opening two-handed takes.

Indeed, once Gloucester had won the first five line-outs, Orrell had to switch to plan B. This entailed a certain amount of skulduggery and a lot of pouring through the lines. The man to suffer was the unfortunate scrum-half, Bruce Fenley, and, worse still, Gloucester's source of possession began to dry up.

Not before Tim Smith had put his side ahead, however, with a penalty in the fourth minute. As West soared for another line- out ball, Orrell revealed their frustration and from 40 yards out on the left Smith made no mistake. Gloucester would have wished that he had continued in similar vein.

But Smith missed out three times on adding to his penalty count as Orrell continued to mess Gloucester around whenever the ball was hoofed into touch. Nor was all the action of the apologetic kind, Clive Cooper and Andy Deacon wrestling in the mud, Martin Hynes spoken to for throwing a punch and Charles Cusani and Dave Sims later exchanging blows.

This was the unsavoury business of the day in what was developing into a good old-fashioned forward slog. But then no one expected much else from these two and in these conditions.

Gloucester, meanwhile, kept their noses in front up to the interval but Orrell, who had seen Gerry Ainscough fail with two penalty attempts, called up Simon Langford 12 minutes into the second half and the centre's left foot proved a great leveller.

Better still, Orrell broke the deadlock 12 minutes later when Ainscough, after some toing and froing, kicked to the left corner, the ball squirting away from Ben Maslen and Hamer homing in for the winning try, which Langford converted.

Poor Gloucester could not believe their luck and their cup run finished on a succession of tap penalty moves which Orrell comfortably snuffed out.

Gloucester: Penalty T Smith. Orrell: Try Hamer; Conversion Langford; Penalty Langford.

Gloucester: T Smith; P Holford, D Caskie, B Maslen, M Nicholson; D Cummins, B Fenley; P Jones, D Kearsey, A Deacon, S Devereux, R West, P Glanville, D Sims, I Smith (capt).

Orrell: S Taberner (capt); J Naylor, I Winne, S Langford, P Hamer; G Ainscough, D Morris; M Hynes, G French, S Southern, C Cusani, C Cooper, P Manley, D Cleary (C Brierley, 66), S Bibby.

Referee: C Harrison (Leyton Buzzard).