For a 10-minute spell in the second quarter of the match they did enjoy the briefest of revivals which was, as events turned out, more the result of Leicester's slackness than Orrell's superiority. For the remainder of the game they were a poor second in wit, invention and ball control.
The sad fact is that Orrell's sole purpose at this late stage in the season is to act as cannon fodder for the championship contenders whose need to amass points supersedes any chivalrous notion of mercy. Leicester were pitiless in their quest to score and after their uncharacteristic snooze in the first half finished with six tries, a number of which were delightful to behold. None, however, bettered Steve Hackney's try after 12 minutes when Bill Drake-Lee, profiting from one of Orrell's countless errors in transmission, broke out of defence. He found support from West, Jelley and Miller in the forwards before the backs, with bewildering sleight of hand, shipped the ball to Hackney for the try.
Seven minutes earlier Niall Malone had scored after Rob Liley broke clean through and Leicester's third try of the half was scored by Rory Underwood who took a long pass from Neil Back 40 yards out and within a couple of paces had hit top gear to outstrip Orrell's cover defence. It was quite like old times. Indeed, had Underwood held on to a couple of John Liley's passes which had drifted fractionally off line he would have finished as the hero of the day.
Liley is reputedly one of those Leicester players who have been placed on the transfer list and it is possible with the wealth of talent now at Leicester's disposal that he will finish his first-class career elsewhere. Yet he still displays some subtle touches of genuine class, not least in his transference of the ball to colleagues better placed than he is. It was from one of those touches that Hackney got his try but there was no more enjoyable moment than Liley's break towards the right touchline and his overhead pass from a seemingly impossible position for Malone's second try. And as a scorer of points he remains an invaluable asset, yesterday converting three of Leicester's tries.
It will not unduly concern Leicester that they were unable to maintain their momentum in the middle quarter of the match. Even with a game in hand they have superior points difference to the League leaders, Wasps, and their mid-term lapse yesterday is unlikely to prove too costly although there is no doubt that it briefly unsettled them. Quite simply, their defence went to sleep. To his evident surprise, Michael Worsley, Orrell's nimble prop, was given unimpeded passage to the Leicester line before he was grounded by John Liley. But Steve Cook, following up briskly, grabbed the ball, whipped round the blind side and scored a try which Matthew McCarthy converted.
McCarthy, a frail figure, nevertheless has the kick of a mule and with the wind favouring Orrell in the second half he kept an increasingly indisciplined Leicester side penned inside their 22 for long periods. Orrell also received noble service from Peter Anglesea in the loose and Paul Rees at the line- out. But at the end of this wretched season they have precious little to offer save for spirited resistance in the face of overwhelmingly superior opposition.
Malone scored his second try 14 minutes from the end and, to tumultuous applause, Leicester brought on the newly appointed Lions captain Martin Johnson, together with Graham Rowntree and Dean Richards. And, with Austin Healey replacing Underwood, Leicester once again raised the pace of their game to add to Orrell's misery. Craig Joiner squeezed in at the corner for Leicester's sixth try before John Liley's extravagant recklessness inside his own 22 provided Orrell's scrummage with a rare opportunity to exert their influence and the referee Stewart Piercy with the opportunity to award the almost obligatory penalty try when Leicester's back row deliberately came round offside. McCarthy converted but by this time everyone was past caring.
Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney (P. Delaney, 73), N Malone, C Joiner, R Underwood (A Healey, 71); R Liley, A Kardooni; D Jelley, D West, D Garforth (G Rowntree, 66), N Fletcher (M Johnson, 66), M Poole, B Drake-Lee, E Miller (D Richards, 66), N Back (capt).
Orrell: D Lyon (capt) (R Hitchmough, 73); J Naylor, P Hamer, L Tuigamala, N Heslop; M McCarthy, S Cook (R Saverimutto, 73); M Worsley, N Hitchen (A Moffatt, 42), S Turner, P Rees, C Brierley, A Bennett (J Huxley, 68), P Anglesea, R Higgs.
Referee: S Piercy (Yorkshire).