Pickaquoy infield – Saturday 14th September 2013
Final Score: Orkney 76, Ellon 20
With little in the way of a breeze, and perfect underfoot conditions on the infield pitch, Orkney, playing towards the Peedie Sea end in the first half, showed attacking intent from the start and were camped in the Ellon half for long periods of the first 40 minutes.
A bit of a midfield battle followed, but then a great hoisted kick from Bruce Ruthven caught Ellon on the hop and the scrum-half himself went over on the right from a scrum five metres out. James Linklater took his time to tee up the conversion attempt from wide on the touchline and was right on target to make it 14-0.
Orkney’s third try came minutes later, with Tom Croy on a powerful run up the left from just outside the Ellon 22, scoring the first of a hat-trick of tries. Linklater’s conversion attempt was just wide this time, but Orkney led 19-0 with 18 minutes gone.
The Ellon line was under threat again within five minutes, with a great interchange between Marcus Guthrie and Steven Groat seeing Guthrie stopped just short of the line and picking up an injury to his left leg for his troubles. Scott Rendall came on for him.
Undeterred by changes, Orkney broke again up the left through Tom Croy. He went over again to secure Orkney’s bonus point after 25 minutes. Linklater’s kick from the left touchline came back off the upright and underside of the bar.
After such a long period of pressure, Ellon finally made it into the Orkney half for a spell and had their first points on the board through a penalty from Jonothon Dobson.
However, a penalty against Ellon for handling on the deck was punished in full by Orkney as James Linklater broke through on the right and found Philip Ross outside him, sending him over the line and round towards the posts. It made the conversion more straightforward for Linklater and Orkney were 31-3 up.
There was no let-up in Orkney’s try fest though, Erland Drever going over this time after Orkney battled up the left, Linklater maximising the points for 38-3.
Orkney had punished Ellon in these minutes before half time and the visitors looked determined to make some impression before the turn around. They tried to get the ball out to their backs as they worked their way up to half way, but lost the ball to Orkney again and Tom Croy was in again to complete his first-half hat-trick, the kick from Linklater again securing the seven points and a 45-3 lead as the half ended.
Perhaps it was Ellon’s half-time team talk, or maybe Orkney switched off for the opening ten minutes of the second half – or a combination of the two. Either way, Ellon started much the brighter and had an early try from Andrew Parker, converted by Dobson, then in the 50th minute prop Ewen McIntyre was over at the posts for an unconverted try as Orkney struggled to defend against determined Ellon pack play.
Orkney got on the attack after the restart though, and James Linklater was unlucky to lose the ball as he broke on the left and was enveloped by Ellon defenders.
Danny Bain was next on the break for Orkney, finding Chris Guthrie in support. He tried to find Philip Ross out wide but Ellon were back to kill the move just outside their 22.
Orkney’s opening try of the second half started off as a slick enough running move from the backs, but almost ended in a comedy of errors. You would not normally bet against Philip Ross in a straight foot race, but his kick ahead didn’t bounce kindly for him and as he gathered to feed Scott Rendall it looked like the youngster might break through to the line himself. However, the move ended up being finished off by Chris Guthrie scrambling over in the left corner for an unconverted try to make it 50-15 with quarter of the match left.
And what a final 20 minutes. Orkney kept the pressure on in the Ellon 22 and the next score was created by vice captain Adam Baird, who broke away on the right and fed to Bruce Ruthven to go over and in towards the posts before touching down. James Linklater converted again to stretch the lead to 57-15.
It was the Orkney skipper who turned on the style next, with a brilliant break up the right and a neat interchange with James Linklater, before he got the ball back to go over for a great captain’s try. Linklater was true with the boot for a 64-15 with around ten minutes remaining.
Ellon were not all done though, and they had an unconverted try through left winger Stuart Cruickshank that had them calling for a fourth score to secure a bonus point.
It was not to be however, and the next score was another Orkney try, with James Linklater going over for an unconverted try and a 69-20 lead after 78 minutes.
Orkney finished off with a concerted attack on the Ellon line, Alan Brown and Tom Croy making inroads before Adam Baird took it on and went over next to the posts. James Linklater’s successful conversion was the last kick of the match, giving Orkney a 76-20 win to celebrate.
Man of the Match as selected by the sponsors, Davie and Fiona Flett of Papdale Stores, was Scott Rendall, who had played much of the match out of position. The players’ vote was a tight one between hat-trick try-scorer Tom Croy, and the eventual winner, captain Alan Brown.
Orkney have a second home game in a row this Saturday as they entertain Perthshire, and will be looking for revenge after the narrow 24-22 away defeat in the Scottish Cup Shield in August.