ORMSKIRK RUFC first XV made the short trip to Orrell for their first league game of the season full of hope that they could start the season as they mean to go on as they look to build on last season's third place finish.
The game started at a frantic pace.
After receiving the kick-off, Ormskirk put together some good phases of play, advancing down the pitch and setting the tone immediately for the following 80 minutes.
The visitors' scrum was dominant throughout, coach Donny Sutherland having the luxury of rotating props Val Gateley, Jonny Gorst, Ryan Purcell and Brad Drysdale, never affording the Orrell 8 any respite.
The first half provided young scrum-half Chris Bartolo plenty of opportunity to release his backs who consistently broke the broke Orrell's defensive line, mainly through the dangerous running of outside centre Luke Parker and winger Joe Hodson. Unfortunately for Ormskirk they didn't turn all their early pressure into points and Orrell began to enjoy periods of possession themselves. These frailties in attack certainly weren't on show in defence as the back-row of Martin Rothwell, Adam Ainscow and Glyn Roberts stifled most Orrell attacks before they started and the midfield defence of fly-half Gareth Prytherch and inside centre Andy Healey never looked like missing tackles on the home side's direct approach down the middle of the pitch.
It was on 25 minutes when Kirk finally broke the deadlock, after Hodson and his wing partner Tom Owens had both come close to scoring after flowing backs moves, the first try came via a far more direct route.
A line out 10 yards from Orrell's line saw new hooker Matt Tickle find his man in Purcell who rampaged over two would be tacklers to crash over for his first try of the season.
The conversion was missed but Kirk held their lead until half-time.
The second half saw the elements in favour of the men in green and they very rarely let the hard-working Orrell side out of their own territory. Unfortunately, as was the case in the first half, Kirk failed to turn possession and field position into points which kept the home side's hopes alive of getting back into the game.
This is exactly what happened on 55 minutes when, from an Ormskirk attacking scrum just inside Orrell's half, number 8 Roberts' intended pass to Bartolo was knocked forward by the Orrell blindside, unseen by the referee. Quite rightly playing to the whistle, Orrell broke down the pitch and good support play saw their left winger finish in the corner, 5-5 and game on.
From this point onwards Ormskirk continued to enjoy lots of possession ad their forwards continued to dominate and launched attack after attack, coming within inches of notching their second try on three separate occasions. They were also awarded three penalties within kicking range but Alex Lambie was having a rare off day with the boot and narrowly failed to convert any of these chances.
As the game seemed to be heading for a disappointing draw, Ormskirk finally got the second try that all their attacking ambition deserved.
Going wide from an off the top line out win, the ball was swiftly moved into the hands of Hodson who yet again proved his worth to Ormskirk, confidently beating two men to score in the corner, another match winning finish from the ever-improving youngster.
The conversion was missed but Ormskirk saw out the last few minutes without letting Orrell out of their own half to record a narrow victory.
In truth, Ormskirk could, maybe should, have recorded a more comfortable victory but through a combination of poor final decisions, bad luck at times and Orrell's impressive last ditch cover defending the winning margin was only five points.
As ever, winning the first league game of the season was the main target.