Countesswells – Saturday, March 22, 2014
Gordonians 24, Orkney 31
Orkney RFC bounced back from the disappointment of home defeat against Caithness earlier in the month to record a fine away win over Gordonians at a bright and breezy Countesswells on Saturday, keeping them in the promotion chase.
With a sizeable travelling ‘President’s Trip’ support, bolstered by a good number of ex-pats to cheer them on, Orkney drew first blood with a try from Denis Hayes after a break up the right, converted by James Linklater for an early 7-0 lead.
A great covering tackle from Craig Slater kept Gordonians at bay when they eventually did break upfield coming up for the quarter hour.
The home side had an unconverted try to bring it back to 5-7 shortly before Danny Bain was yellow-carded for an uncharacteristic high tackle, with Gordonians awarded a penalty try, which they converted to go 12-7 up with a quarter of the match played.
The sides exchanged penalties in a fairly even midfield battle for a while until Orkney worked their way up the left towards the clubhouse end, looking for another score before half time.
After a few attacks, a third try eventually came through Graham Poke, with James Linklater adding the conversion to put Orkney 12-14 up as half-time approached.
Time yet though, for Gordonians to get a try back, thanks to some Orkney errors. The try went unconverted, and an Orkney penalty in the final minute dropped just short from James Linklater’s boot, meaning the half ended with a 17-14 advantage to the home side.
The sun was coming through again as the second half got under way and Orkney were on the attack, but Gordonians won the ball in their own 22 and it took a wrap-up tackle from Magnus Flett to halt them.
Orkney had put-in at the scrum but Gordonians eventually capitalised on it and worked up into the Orkney 22 where they crossed the line for a try, converted to make it 24-14.
An Orkney break up the right looked promising but Gordonians got hold of the ball and they attacked down the same wing. Another reversal of fortunes saw Orkney come away again and they looked to be doing a steady job up the right, but were penalised for crossing and Gordonians kicked up into the right corner to press the Orkney line once more.
Things were not going well for Orkney, but then Jon Tait showed some spirit as he broke through Gordonians and up the right, with Orkney then awarded a penalty. It was kicked for a lineout to set up a drive towards the corner, Adam Baird steering things and then finally Garry Coltherd getting the ball down for a try in the corner. It went unconverted for a 24-19 scoreline after 65 minutes, leaving it all to play for inside the final quarter.
Forward again came Orkney and another penalty saw Linklater again kick for the lineout, just inside the Gordonians 22. A great break from Tom Croy up the right had the Orkney crowd on their feet in the stand as the visitors piled into the 22, Matthew Byers then bursting through in front of the posts but then tackled. There was another yellow card for an Orcadian, but this time Gordonians player Euan Dunnett who was heading off.
Another Orkney penalty as they pressed into the Gordonians 22 saw the kick to the corner and then the forwards go through six phases before Adam Baird crashed over the line to draw Orkney level. James Linklater added the conversion to regain the lead for Orkney, much to the delight of the vocal visiting support.
It was cheers all round as yet another penalty put Orkney into attack mode again and a great drive to the line saw Danny Bain this time ground the ball from the rolling maul as the match moved into the final five minutes. The conversion attempt was thwarted by the wind, leaving Orkney 24-31 ahead.
The match continued very much in the same vein, with Orkney on the front foot, and Jon Tait looking through and clear but high-tackled on his way to the line. No yellow card this time, but Orkney kicked for the lineout and again rumbled towards the line. Another penalty and lineout five metres out saw the clock tick down and all Orkney had to do was kick the ball dead to secure the bonus-point win.
The result leaves Orkney in fourth place in the league on 60 points and with two matches to play. Dunfermline are a point ahead and Caithness, whose campaign is over, are also on 61 points. Perthshire, beaten by Caithness on Saturday are top on 68 points with one match to play.
Orkney’s final fixtures in Caledonia Regional league Division 1 are away to Perthshire on April 5, with Dunfermline to visit Orkney on April 12.
With two teams to go up into the new National 3, it is still all to play for. Indeed it would have been difficult to have lined up a more exciting end to the season.