RBS Caledonia League Division 1
Pickaquoy infield – Saturday, November 2, 2013
Orkney 31, Gordonians 15
Orkney RFC maintained their 100% home record with a 31-15 victory over Gordonians to remain in third place in Caledonia League Division 1 at the half way stage.
The win, thanks to three first half tries and two in the second – the final three converted by James Linklater - means Orkney go into the second half of the season with 31 points, three behind the leaders Perthshire and second-placed Dunfermline. Orkney are five points ahead of Strathmore, who are the next visitors to Pickaquoy for a match that will kick-off at the early time of 11am on Saturday, November 16.
Orkney had the early pressure in the opening ten minutes and kept the play in the visitors’ half, but without being able to threaten the line. Gordonians, playing towards the Muddisdale end in the first half, kicked for a lineout up the right as they tried to move into the Orkney half, but a returned kick which was dropped by Gordonians gave Orkney space and another attacking chance. As the ball went loose from a scrum Scott Russell gathered from a kick and made good yards before the forwards took things on and went for the line in determined style, with Scott Rendall eventually going over for a 5-0 lead to Orkney after 15 minutes.
Graham Poke came off with an injured shoulder to be replaced by Raymond Moodie just ahead of a scrum deep inside the Orkney 22. Another followed as Gordonians built pressure, but Orkney got things clear through the boot of Bruce Ruthven up the right and then Chris Guthrie up the left. However, relief was momentary and Orkney had to maintain a defensive position as Gordonians ran back at them. When Orkney did get a break Scott Russell was unlucky not to get away up the right wing.
Gordonians kicked a penalty to touch from the halfway line for a lineout inside the Orkney 22 but Orkney turned over on the 22 and though Gordonians regained possession from the clearing kick it went straight out and the Orkney lineout ball was won on the Gordonians 10 metre line.
An Orkney lineout on the Gordonians 22 set up a great maul and the forwards worked up to five metres out from the line. However, when the ball came to the Orkney backs quick defensive reaction from Gordonians snatched it away and a scoring chance was lost.
However, Orkney’s next try was not long in coming and it was Al Watson who burst away from a scrum on the Gordonians 10 metre line to waltz through the visitors’ lines to score out on the left.
Some great handling led to Orkney’s third try soon after; up the right wing they came with Scott Russell getting away this time to carry into the 22 before play rapidly moved in towards the posts with Steven Groat grounding the ball. He had to wait a few seconds for the referee - who had taken a tumble as Orkney broke – to catch up and verify the score. James Linklater had a relatively straightforward kick to claim all seven points for this try, making it 17-0 as half time approached.
Time yet though for Gordonians to pull back a score, and they did so through relentless attack that eventually brought them five points right at the end of the first 40 minutes. The final kick of the half saw the conversion missed, so Orkney turned round 17-5 ahead.
Orkney started the second half brightly with Bruce Ruthven, Scott Rendall, Alan Brown and then Rendall again taking the ball to the visitors, and then a drive to just short of the Gordonians 22 on the left. Al Watson and Bruce Ruthven then combined up the right, but Ruthven was tap tackled. Chris Guthrie was next to break, getting the ball to Craig Slater, who was tackled a bit high as he headed for the line.
Orkney then appeared to have won a scrum against the head, only for Gordonians to recover and come away with it to kick clear for a lineout 10 metres from their line. Captain Alan Brown won it well and Orkney set up another attack, but a knock-on gave Gordonians the scrum and this time they made no mistake in winning it to clear.
Jamie Firth replaced Scott Russell after 55 minutes. Gordonians were trying to run the ball out of their half, but Orkney held firm and Craig Slater was taking no prisoners as he bundled their last man into touch on the Gordonians 10 metre line.
Orkney were needing to refocus though as they made errors that broke up their own attacks, and at times didn’t look like the team in the lead.
However, a decision against Orkney in the scrum saw the players – and spectators – fired up and as Orkney built their next attack a determined effort from the forwards brought them to the line and this time it was Sean Cursiter who went over from the base of the ruck for Orkney’s first points of the second half, on the 60-minute mark. James Linklater’s kick from wide on the touchline crept over this time to make it 24-5 to Orkney.
A break up the right for Orkney was cut off in its prime, but then they were up the left with eventual man of the match Craig Slater high-tackled to give them a penalty. They drove again towards the line and this time Al Watson found the gap for his second try of the afternoon. James Linklater made it 31-5 with his conversion and Orkney looked good going into the final 15 minutes.
They had to hang on in this hard-fought contest though, as Gordonians came into an attacking spell, aided by a number of penalties in their favour. Orkney had some dour defending to do right on their line. It looked like they might hold out but the ball came back to one of the Gordonians centres and he crashed over at the posts. The kicker somehow managed to hit the upright from infront of the posts so it was 31-10 going into the final few minutes.
Orkney put themselves on the back foot again though, with Scott Rendall left isolated after a communication breakdown with Alan Brown. Gordonians capitalised on the error, and had another try for their efforts and opportunism to make it 31-15.
The visitors’ tails were now well and truly up, and Orkney needed to regain control of the match and they did just enough in the closing minutes to keep Gordonians at bay and get back into attacking mode. Although they were camped on the visitors’ line in the final minutes the score remained 31-15 at full time.
A hard-fought match in the end for Orkney; despite making things difficult for themselves at times they could go away reasonably happy with the bonus point win. As Alan Brown said later on, it was great for the team to make amends for the defeat away to Caithness the week before by claiming the five points.
Match report: RFL
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