Pickaquoy – Saturday, April 12, 2014
Orkney 31, Dunfermline 0
A 31-0 win over promoted Dunfermline rounded off Orkney RFC's league campaign at the Pickaquoy Centre infield pitch on Saturday, April 12.
Tries came from Philip Ross, Denis Hayes, Scott Rendall (2) and captain Alan Brown rounded off a successful league season for him with the last try of the campaign. James Linklater's three conversions – all kicked in difficult windy conditions - gave the additional six points in a victory that delighted a huge home crowd of well over 200.
This wasn’t quite the opening of the floodgates that the conditions might have suggested, and with quarter of an hour gone it was still 5-0, although with Orkney dominating possession. They had to be wary though as Dunfermline were sharp to pick up any scraps and ball retention needed to improve to keep the visitors at bay.
As if to ease the tension, Denis Hayes came up with a piece of individual brilliance, breaking through the middle and brushing off several Dunfermline tackles to go over under the posts, allowing James Linklater a straightforward conversion for a 12-0 lead.
Into the second quarter of the match and Orkney were still edging it. Alex Kansour had a half break, but Orkney still had to keep things tighter, with Dunfermline sniffing out any opportunities and looking good with ball in hand.
A penalty to Orkney in 25 minutes, for Dunfermline not releasing, saw James Linklater kick from inside the Orkney half, trying to use the wind to his advantage to get the distance. He wasn’t far off, but the ball dropped just short. What it did do was force Dunfermline to start from their 22 and took play right to their line, with Orkney going through the phases until eventually Scott Rendall went over on the left. James Linklater had the measure of the wind now and his conversion bulleted through the posts to make it 19-0.
It was a bit of a midfield tussle for a while, but coming to half time and Orkney were again pressing the Dunfermline line, with the forwards putting in a power of work only to lose the ball and then be awarded a penalty which they took as a scrum. The ball came right through hands and it looked like Jon Tait might be in, but the ball drifted tantalisingly past his fingers and the chance was gone.
As half time was signalled a few folk on the touchline wondered if a 19-0 lead would be enough for Orkney to defend with Dunfermline playing with the wind in the second 40 minutes.
They needn’t have worried though, as they were about to witness what was arguably Orkney’s finest half of the season, a display of determined controlled rugby that left Dunfermline helpless and without any opportunity to reply to the home side’s onslaught.
It was all about steady progress and keeping the ball in Orkney hands and, apart from the odd break from William Thomson and James Linklater, among others, it was predominantly a forward show as the half progressed.
Then Jon Tait got on the end of a long pass from William Thomson and broke up into the Dunfermline 22 to set up Orkney’s first attack of the half. It was close but no cigar this time but Orkney used a penalty to go at the visitors again. Another penalty and they looked like they might go through but were bundled out at the flag. Back Orkney came even more determined and the strength and passion was there as they crossed the line, only to have the score ruled out. They did it all again straight away and this time it was man of the match Scott Rendall who touched down to stretch Orkney’s lead and secure the bonus point with 72 minutes gone.
Inside the final five minutes and it was Orkney captain Alan Brown who sealed the victory with a fine try after more Orkney pressure inside the Dunfermline 22. James Linklater converted into the wind this time, making the final score 31-0 to Orkney.
Dunfermline had brought a big travelling support with them (maybe expecting a more positive result), but they were willing the final whistle to be blown even as their side attempted an attack at the death. “Blow the whistle ref, the game’s a bogey – I just want to go home”, said one woman who had clearly seen enough of Orkney.
Soon enough she had her wish, and the large home crowd cheered and applauded Orkney’s fine performance against the promoted side.