"When we got to within two points I thought we were in with a chance of winning," said Orrell's Director of Rugby Sammy Southern after he had seen his National Two side bow out of the Powergen Cup, losing to Premiership outfit Leeds Tykes by 22-31 at Edge Hall Road on Saturday.
Yet few casual visitors in the 1,300 crowd, if such a breed ever exists in this rugby corner of Lancashire, would have thought that this was a contest between sides two divisions apart as Orrell countered Leeds' power up-front with some delightful and incisive running in the backs.
Not that long ago the Edge Hall Road pack, anchored by Southern himself was possibly the most feared in the upper echelons of the game. That might not be the case now as the club had fallen on hard times until the injection of cash from the mighty Whelan empire at the beginning of this season. The backs are in fair nick, but the forwards will need strengthening for future battles.
With Great Britain and Wigan rugby league centre Gary Connolly in the side after returning from holiday in Mexico only 24 hours earlier, Orrell got off to a terrible start. A loose kick to touch went out on the full and from the line-out Leeds centre Graham Mackay powered through to set up the opening try for Shaun Woof. Braam van Straaten added the extras and the Premiership side were 7-0 up after just 45 seconds.
Orrell shrugged off the set-back and through breaks from the Richard Welding, Andy Craig and super support play from openside Mark Lloyd, Leeds were put under pressure in their own 22. A penalty from Welding and a drop goal from John Broxson was just reward for this early effort and set the pattern of play for the rest of the afternoon.
Yet Leeds always seemed to be able to fashion another score every time Orrell came close and with Jon Benson's dive over the line being held up, Orrell had committed enough defenders to allow Woof to sneak in unopposed on the blindside.
With Van Straaten sent ot the sin-bin for killing the ball, to be joined shortly after by Orrell's Chas Cusani, Welding made it 9-14 at the break and added another just after to bring his side within two points of the lead.
Again Leeds' forward power told as Eddie Jones glided in from the back of a maul and although Orrell came back with a try from Craig, winning the chase for Connolly's angled kick through, a try by Cameron Mather and a final penalty from Van Straaten to neutralise a late effort from Welding saw the visitors through.
Orrell: Try Craig; Conversion Welding, Penalties Welding 4, Drop goal Broxson. Leeds: Tries Woof 2, Jones, Mather, Conversions Van Straaten 4, Penalty Van Straaten.
Orrell: R Welding; W Davies, A Craig, G Connolly, N Kerfoot; J Broxson, P Newton; A Livesey, A Moffat, T Lea'aetoa, C Bentley, C Cusani, A Bennett, M Lloyd, A Monighan.
Leeds: J Benson; D Scarborough, S Woof, G Mackay (T Davies, h-t), C Emmerson; B van Straaten, C Kendra; M Shelley, M Holt, K Fullman (J Wring, 62), E Jones, T Palmer, C Hogg, C Mather, I Clarke.
Referee: G Ashton-Jones (Hampshire).Reuse content