A bumper crowd full of stars of yesteryear were in attendance at St John Rigby as Orrell edged Wigan in a high-scoring thriller in South Lancashire/Cheshire League Two.
With Aspull in the same division, the first of six borough derbies was a tantalising opener to the new term, and the glorious sunshine contributed to an afternoon of scintillating rugby.
The big draw before the game was the inclusion of ex-Great Britain RL star Sean Long in the Orrell line-up, and he didn’t disappoint the home faithful, opening the scoring three minutes in with a penalty in front of the sticks.
Five minutes later, Orrell drove Wigan off the ball at a ruck and moved the ball out to the right, with Tom Craig racing down the touchline before sending Gary Nicholson over.
Long converted for 10-0, but Wigan quickly pulled back three points through the boot of Adam Dwyer.
However, lack of discipline from Wigan allowed Long to boot over three penalties in quick succession to open up a 19-3 advantage.
Lee Roby’s unconverted try just before half-time kept Wigan in touch at 19-8, and a further touchdown from Tom Wilson – improved by Dwyer – reduced the arrears to only four points.
Orrell managed to steady the ship and, from a line-out close to the Wigan line, Andy Stott raced over to score, although Long was unable to convert – his only miss of the day.
Long made amends by adding another penalty to make it 27-15 heading into the final quarter, before a loose Wigan pass was picked up by Tom Craig, who out-ran the defence to score Orrell’s third try.
Roby’s second try again closed the gap to 34-22, although Craig’s second try – and Orrell’s fourth – killed off any hope of a Wigan comeback.
The visitors did have the final say, though, with Sammy Makinson’s quick feet allowing him to squeeze over in the corner to secure Wigan a bonus point of their own.