CREWE and Nantwich moved up to second in the South Lancs and Cheshire League Division Two table on Saturday.
Orrell, the amateur offshoot of the fully professional National League club, provided lively opposition but Crewe hung on for a narrow win.
The number of penalties Crewe conceded will be a major concern and, after losing scrum-half David Cox to injury in the first couple of minutes, it wasn't until the second half that the home side began to show the form achieved earlier in the season.
Crewe scored what proved to be the only try of the game early on.
After winning good lineout ball, the forwards drove over the Orrell try line with player-coach Matthew Farr at the bottom of a pile of players to claim the score. Two penalty goals by Orrell and one from the boot of Farr saw the game poised at 8-6 in Crewe's favour at the turnaround.
Crewe dominated in the second period and literally came within inches of scoring two or three tries, but brave tackling from the visitors kept them out.
Farr kicked a penalty for Crewe with Orrell replying in kind, but the home side held on to their two-point cushion to climb the table ahead of Saturday's trip to leaders Hoylake.
The seconds defeated Leigh 22-12 with two tries form Jon Cock-burn and one apiece from Elliot Sproston and Stuart Banks, with Andy Parker landing one conversion.
Crewe's thirds entertain Moore this Saturday (2.30pm).