ORRELL, generally considered only to be making up a fourth for the Pilkington Cup semi-finals, played with such vigour and challenge, orchestrated by the dynamic Dewi Morris, that they took an early lead and kept it well into the first quarter-hour of the second half. Leicester, for all their strength and mechanical skills, could only wait until they got the better of the blustery gale when they changed ends.
When this happened, the momentum of the game altered, too. Leicester began to achieve what they had only fleetingly promised from their possession. The difference in basic quality between the teams began to tell, and Leicester went confidently into the lead. Sadly for Orrell, too, as they lost control, they became more desperate in their defence, and humiliatingly their experienced lock, Chas Cusani, was sent off for kicking an opponent.
They had done their best to exploit the rough conditions, which had made skills more uniform, but there was no doubt that Leicester had the greater spread of talents: the solidity of a scrum which Dean Richards held together in an iron grasp, the consistency of Jez Harris as a tactical and a placekicker, and the sheer finishing speed of Rory Underwood, who, when it mattered, left his markers standing.
What was announced as Orrell's new anthem - Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best', apparently played with a thorn needle on a wind-up gramophone - did not so much inspire the side as seem to drive them into some kind of retaliation. Although the Tigers, playing into the wind, still threatened to maul them into submission from the start, Orrell came back with two impromptu, early strikes, which gave them the tactical initiative for nearly an hour.
In the fifth minute, as Leicester tried to run out of defence, their centre Stuart Potter received a tackle along with his pass. The ball went loose and Ian Wynn, his opposite number, had only to pick up and make his way unmarked to the posts and set up Gerry Ainscough's conversion.
Ten minutes later, with no greater early warning than before, Orrell conjured up a threequarter move which Leicester would not have been ashamed to call their own in balmier days. Two men were missed out to relay the ball more speedily to the left, where Ainscough looked around to take the final pass outside his wing, Paul Johnson, and cross for a try in the corner.
Harris's first two penalties were Leicester's only score of the half, and since Simon Langford pulled three points back with a mighty kick from the right touchline, Orrell changed ends with a 15-6 lead. As from then, they also lost their fair wind, which changed their fortunes.
Leicester now had only to grind away, keep up the pressure and exploit whatever chances came along. The first fell to Potter, the early victim, now getting his own back, who charged down an Orrell relieving kick and dribbled through to the line for a try. The next went to Underwood, who careered through two tackles for a try which took him past 400 points for his club. And then Potter went through on the final wave of a prolonged Leicester attack for his second try. Harris added two more penalties to Ainscough's one, and although Cusani's dismissal was an embarrassment for Orrell, it did nothing to change a now predestined result.
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