Our third league win of the season
By Tracy Monckton
Match day report Orrell 1XV vs Dukinfiekd 1XV
Looking to secure a third league win of the season Orrell started strongly in front of the home fans and then romped to an emphatic eight try victory over Dukinfield.
Josh Grant the young and imposing Orrell front rower opened the scoring on 6 minutes. The tight head picked up a loose pass and then powered his way over for a close range but impressive effort. Craig Thomas slotted the conversion easily for an early 7 – 0 lead.
The first quarter flew by, Orrells forwards led by example and the impressive front row combination of Kyle Herbert, Lloyd Davies and Josh Grant were matched by the pairing of Wilbur Harris and Jack Granby in the second row.
Against a much larger pack the Orrell enforcers dominated and set up good field position for the backs to try and exploit. Their speed and ability to move the ball through the hands was evident and it took only another six minutes for Harris to pick the ball up from the back of a ruck and whistle passed two defenders in trade mark fashion. The score came just to the right of the uprights and Thomas converted easily.
Leading 14 – 0 the home side were in full control and the backs still hadn’t
found their rhythm. Outside centre Tom Hallsall then finished a free flowing move to edge them into the contest, whilst also adding to his seasons tally and highlighting his ever increasing strike threat in the outside centre position. With the try out on the left edge, Thomas was left with a difficult conversion and put the kick wide.
Dukinfield regathered some composure and had a few fine passages of play themselves, with pick and go’s and slick interchanges between their back row and front row. Their approach worked the home sides middle channels highly effectively but Orrell stood fast during 10 minutes of relentless forwards play.
When Orrell did manage to get the ball back they broke fast, racing nearly the full length of the field only to be halted with some excellent cover tackles close to the Dukinfield try line.
Dan Huxley, the busy Orrell flanker then tagged onto to some more strong front row play and got his own five pointer. With Craig Thomas limping off the field with a calf strain, it was Ratcliffe that missed the conversion from the touchline but Orrell were 24 – 0 up and flying.
Some sloppy penalties and loose passes let Dukinfield gain field position and momentum, which resulted in a great kick and chase from the Oldham full back. A foot race between Chris Wynn and his opposite number followed. Wynn looked to have won the sprint and indeed protested that he had in fact grounded the ball first. The referee saw it differently and awarded Dukinfield their first try and points of the game. The conversion was missed for a score of 24 – 5.
Just before half time what would have been the try of the game was bombed, much to the disappointment of the Orrell coaching staff. The ball went through five of six pair of hands leaving Dan Huxley and Kieron Herbert to slice through the Oldham defence with a one two passing sequence. With the two of them racing towards the Dukinfield fullback, Huxley had Herbert in support and screaming for the ball but somehow Herbert dropped the most immaculate of passes, leaving a frustrated Huxley ruing the fact that he should have gone on his own.
Orrell wasted no time dwelling on the mistake though and after some more slick handling Jack Granby, who has started to play some outstanding rugby in recent weeks, raced over for a typical back row try full of pace and determination. Ratcliffe converted and Orrell were leading 31 points to 5 at the half time break.
After the restart it was a moment of magic that sent the home crowd ecstatic, as Kieron Herbert who had been busily trying to make amends for his earlier mistake and who has been outstanding in the unfamiliar inside centre position this season, dropped into scrum half (due to the sin binning of Adam Worley).
Sniffing an opportunity with tired bodies everywhere, Herbert picked up the ball at the base of a ruck and dashed 70 metres for the try of the afternoon. He rounded the full back at speed, reminiscent of his days as a St Helens academy flying wingman and touched down the under the sticks. The easy conversion for Ratcliffe was slotted over convincingly, thus pushing Orrell into a 38 points to 5 lead.
Matty Johnson who had replaced the injured Craig Thomas on the left wing earlier in the game, then got on the score sheet after some varied, fast and free flowing backs play. Chris Wynn, who is still learning the fullbacks role in only his second season provided the slick pass out the back of two edge runners....... Johnson finished over in the far left corner in true wingman's style. Reminiscent of a training ground move Wynne was seen jubilant and enjoying the fruits of his labour until long after the game on a move that had worked to perfection.
The conversion was missed but Johnson wasted no time after the restart and was almost immediately racing down the touch line again. For the third consecutive time Johnson tried to the beat the last man standing but this time he put boot to ball for a chip and regather. The Dukinfield full back then proceeded to flatten Johnson off the ball and quite rightly received his marching orders. A penalty try was given and a 50 – 5 lead gained.
At this stage it looked like Dukinfield were going to capitulate but to their credit they didn’t and Orrell were in for a rough ride with 20 minutes remaining. What followed wasn’t pretty but with two sin binning’s and some solid no-nonsense forwards play, Dukinfield pressed the home sides buttons and got on the score sheet for a seven pointer.
Orrell's young pack led by and barked at by the experienced Wilbur Harris, stood firm under constant pressure and harassment. The penalty count did start to creep up but cool heads prevailed and a line was crossed with regards to keeping their composure in difficult circumstances. Which will only benefit the team in the weeks and months to come.
Orrell know that travelling to Oldham on the 5th January in the return fixture is going to be a completely different ball game but will take heart from another win, a try scoring bonus point and some sturdy defence against an experienced and sizeable Dukinfield pack and backline.