Sunday 24th November 2013
Caithness 40, Orkney 15
Orkney’s U16 girls travelled across to Caithness on Sunday morning for their second ever competitive match. Having secured a hard-fought and narrow 33-31 win in their first match, at Pickaquoy on November 10, it was likely that Caithness would be out for revenge on home soil, and so it was in the first quarter.
Orkney regrouped with a scrum on half way won well for Aimee Kent to break up the right. Orkney were into the Caithness 22 but just as soon Caithness were back at them. Ara Schofield managed to halt things temporarily, but Caithness broke across the pitch and, despite a couple of decent tackle attempts, they were in again and 15-0 up.
Orkney had a free kick against them after the restart and Caithness were on the attack again, with a couple of decisive runs taking them in under the posts to lead by four tries to nil.
A short injury break followed as a Caithness player received attention. She was replaced just before the end of the first period, Orkney turning round needing perhaps a bit more belief in themselves to find a way back in.
As Caithness broke early in the second period Orkney got a couple of tackles in and then ushered the ball carrier into touch for a lineout. Orkney won the ball and strung passes nicely across the pitch until Claire Rendall was carrying it up the right, but then eased into touch.
The next scrum saw Orkney No8 Aimee Kent pick up and make a great break up the right. Hannah Peace had the ball then, but was bundled into touch. Orkney were looking brighter now though, with Ara Schofield just short of the line after a tremendous run up the left. Caithness came away with the ball from the scrum, but spilled it to give Orkney possession again in the 22 and Orkney cheers went up as Erina Brown looped round the Caithness defence and touched down for Orkney’s first try. This made it 20-5, with the conversion pushed just wide by Keira Johnston.
Another injury stop, and this time Aimee Kent and Shannon Drever had to come off for Orkney with leg injuries. Soon after this Orkney had a let-off as Caithness ran the ball dead when they thought they had scored again.
Orkney were tackling better now as Caithness probed inside the Orkney 22. A knock-on gave Orkney possession and Claire Rendall was away up the right, but tackled and Caithness broke across the field to score in the far corner to make it 25-5 at the end of the second period.
A nice bit of footwork from Erina Brown early in the third period saw her firstly break left inside her own 22 and then change direction to cut right to allow Orkney to string passes out right to make a diagonal run through the Caithness would-be tacklers. Erina got the ball to Hannah before it was dropped, but back the way and gathered by Orkney before being lost to Caithness.
However, the next move was a fine one from Orkney as Megan MacLeod carried the ball strongly up the left and deep into the Caithness half. She had support from Daria Byers, the ball then coming to Shannon McCaig and back to Megan, with finally Ann Groat going over for Orkney’s second try. This made it 25-10, with Orkney looking much more positive.
Caithness replied very quickly though, and had their sixth try to lead 30-10. ‘Tackles’ was the call from the touchline as Caithness threatened again. Orkney held them out long enough to force them to spill the ball though. As Orkney regained possession Erina Brown went on a lung-burster of a run from her own try line to score a fine individual try under the posts to make it 30-15, the conversion dropping just under the bar. There was no stopping Caithness though, as they broke from a scrum and went over again on the right to stretch the lead again to 35-15. Orkney kept their heads up as they came back for the restart and soon enough Hannah Peace was carrying the ball into the Caithness half and, although well tackled, she laid the ball back well to keep possession and momentum with Orkney as the third period ended.
Into the final quarter, and Megan MacLeod, Isla Leslie and Claire Rendall were all involved in a break for Orkney until a knock-on was called and Caithness had scrum put-in. Caithness were looking to break then, but then Claire Rendall followed up a great tackle by snaffling the loose ball as Orkney put up a spirited fight.
As Caithness regained possession and came up into the Orkney 22 again, Erina Brown, Megan MacLeod and Caitlin Foran strung passes together as they tried to run the ball out of the danger area. Caithness were having none of it though, and soon had the ball across the try line again for a 40-15 lead.
Orkney attacked again after the restart, Hannah Peace making a good run through the Caithness line and laying the ball back well again in the tackle. This was the pattern for much of the rest of the match, with Orkney now competing well and having more possession. Aimee Kent, back on for Sadie Balcombe, broke well from her own line up to the Orkney 22 to clear Caithness danger again, and Orkney contested a couple of scrums well to defend their lines.
Isla Leslie came away with the ball but was wrapped up by the tackler, Claire Rendall gathering. The next Orkney break came from Ara Schofield, again showing good pace up the left as Orkney continued to compete well in open play. As time ticked down, Caithness won a scrum but Orkney quickly won the ball back and the visitors were on the front foot as the match came to an end.
Coach Bruce Ruthven commented:
“The girls have shown great spirit and determination today despite a very tough game. We are asking the players to ensure that they develop and take something away from every training session or game and they have proved they are progressing well. Continued game time and commitment to training will enhance their game understanding and enjoyment of the game with undoubtedly better things to come in the near future, well done to both squads of girls for their efforts to date.”