The elements, lady luck and a strong home side conspired to send Orrell to their third defeat of the season at high-flying local rivals Aspull.
By Tracy Monckton
ASPULL 33 ORRELL 6
The elements, lady luck and a strong home side conspired to send Orrell to their third defeat of the season at high-flying local rivals Aspull..
The hosts eventually ended with a four-try bonus-point victory, but for long periods it was closer than the 33-6 win suggests, with two late tries moving the score from 21-6. With conditions very much preventing top of the ground play, this was a grind of a game from start to finish.
Spearheaded by 13-point fly half Liam Reeve and eventual hat-trick hero Liam West, Aspull raced into a 15-0 advantage.
Starting amid heavy rain, Aspull made the most of their early position with Reeve kicking the first of three penalties to nudge the hosts ahead.
Their first try belied the difficult conditions with play being swept down the left before an inside pass by McDonald found fullback Rhodri Carlton-Jones and he finished at pace. It was too far out for former Waterloo man Reeve to convert. The fly-half was on song however and pushed his side forward with a varied kicking game before landing a conversion from the other side of the field after former Sedgley Park number eight Liam West hulked his way over the line from the base of a rolling maul.
Orrell then applied some pressure and James Ratcliffe booted a penalty to put them on the board. The pack was held up over the line on one occasion shortly after and with the likes of brothers Dan and Max Huxley working hard along with Josh Grant, Orrell came forward again. A limited backline couldn't make the most of possession however and they had to be content with a second Ratcliffe penalty before half-time. At 15-6 they were still in the game.
The interval brought a whole range of issues and Orrell were forced into a major reshuffle with injuries forcing the withdrawal of second-row forwards Jack Johnson and Jack Granby and influential number eight Wilbur Harris. The late arrival of Dante Morley-Samuels who was stuck in traffic returning from work in the Midlands perked things up a bit, but the hosts were patient.
Aspull chipped away at their visitors, winning a couple of penalties which Reeve duly dispatched to make it 21-6 with fifteen second-half minutes played although Orrell fought back, particularly after Hughie Bloor was yellow-carded for the hosts.
The visitors enjoyed a welter of possession midway through the half but sadly couldn't convert them into scoring opportunities with Chris Wynn hauled down on one side of the field and Morley-Samuels stopped on the other. Orrell also had a pack try disallowed for obstruction before two late tries broke their hearts. Both saw West use some great agility and speed to finish, allowing the hosts to celebrate a 33-6 success.