Leicester. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
BEAUTIFULLY constructed, the dry-stone walls around the northern stronghold appear solid enough to deter most intruders. Orrell's Edge Hall Road ground, though, was wide open to the elements and proved just as vulnerable when the invading force from Leicester mounted a push behind the wind at the start of the second half.
One kick and two bounds later and the Tigers were not only back in the hunt but on their way to Twickenham in May to defend their Pilkington Cup title in the showdown that neutral observers had craved. Dean Richards, meanwhile, revealed a greater appetite for success.
Given the choice twixt cup and league titles and the Leicester captain would be only too happy to deny and emulate Bath. 'I'd like both of them actually,' he said on Saturday. 'It's not being greedy. It's being realistic and I think Bath would feel exactly the same.' More than that, you can bank on it.
Then again, the killer instinct in English rugby has obviously spread rapidly from the west. No sooner had the cup semi-final been settled here than the victors were already preparing mentally for next Saturday's league march on the Rec. Nor are there any doubts of a physical nature surrounding the next steps in as demanding a season as the game has seen.
'Just the usual bumps and bruises,' Richards confirmed after some typically fierce forward
exchanges. He might have mentioned a headache, too. Orrell's frustration at their deepening line- out crisis and at seeing their nine- point interval lead wiped out in the space of 20 minutes finally appeared too much for Charles Cusani.
It was Darren Garforth's head that was on the receiving end from Cusani in the 72nd minute just after a fourth Jez Harris penalty had given Leicester a six-point cushion. It was the lock's first sending-off and he felt hard done by.
Tony Spreadbury, the referee, saw things differently. 'Boot to head, easy option, sending off,' he said.
Dewi Morris, who aims to captain Orrell next season and who had given everything to the cause, was slightly more expansive. 'It had't been a nasty game,' the England scrum-half said. 'I'm not standing up for Charlie. Mr Spreadbury had no other choice.'
Poor Morris. Orrell had hit the wall again at their fourth attempt to break out of the last four. 'We played as well as we could, but unfortunately it was all in the flip of a coin and a certain Mr Richards dictated things in the second half.' He was right on both accounts, not least on the loss of the toss as the wind whistled in.
'Rumour has it,' Richards said, 'that Orrell always like to play away from the clubhouse in the second half and considering it was only the third time I've won the toss all season I think denying them that was one of the most
important decisions of the day.'
Perhaps it was, Orrell heading in their favoured direction and pulling clear through tries from Ian Wynn and Gerry Ainscough.
Crucially, though, a marvellous tackle by Wayne Kilford on Morris prevented another breach and come the turnaround the tie was turned on its head, Stuart Potter returning the compliment by charging down an Ainscough clearance for the first of his two tries and Rory Underwood roaring in from 40 yards.
Orrell: Tries Ainscough, Wynn; Conversion Ainscough; Penalties Ainscough, Langford. Leicester: Tries Potter 2, R Underwood; Conversions Harris 2; Penalties Harris 4.
Orrell: S Taberner (capt); J Naylor, I Wynn, S Langford, P Johnson; G Ainscough, D Morris; M Hynes, G French, D Southern, C Cusani, C Cooper, P Manley, D Cleary, S Bibby.
Leicester: W Kilford; S Hackney, S Potter, L Boyle, R Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells, D Richards (capt), W Drake- Lee.
Referee: A Spreadbury (Bristol).Reuse content