RBS Caledonia League Division 1
Oakmill - Saturday 24th November, 2012
Orkney RFC played their 11th game of the season and 5th away game on the trot, against Hillfoots RFC in Tillicoultry on Saturday. Hillfoots, who are unbeaten at home for the past 2 seasons, would have been confident that it would be another home win for them but Orkney proved to be too much for the Clackmannanshire outfit, winning their 2nd away match on the trot, 29-22.
After last weeks much needed victory against St Andrews, Orkney felt this was another must win game but, for various reasons, struggled to get together a full squad despite the efforts of both Manager and Captain. Thankfully, a few exiles met the travelling squad of 14 in Tillicoultry, bringing the player total to 17. Despite having the lack of numbers, Orkney felt confident and there was a good feeling in the team during the warm up.
Orkney kicked off and immediately put Hillfoots under a lot of pressure, keeping the home side stuck in their own 22, eventually winning the ball in a dangerous position. Orkney wasted no time, attacked hard and within 5 minutes took the lead. The father-son combination of Ewan and Garry Coltherd found themselves on the wing, Ewan taking a tackle and giving a textbook offload to allow Garry to score in the corner, his 2nd Try in as many weeks, not a bad stat for a veteran prop who suffers from gout! Danny Bain converted well from out wide to make the score 7-0. Orkney began to take their foot of the gas slightly after the score and allowed hillfoots to run at them and soon found themselves stuck in their own 22. Attempts to tackle around the upper body failed miserably and before long the Hillfoots number 3 found himself in a bit of space, opting for a risky chip and chase over the Orkney defence. The risk paid off, however, and the tight-head prop showed a bit of pace to dive and score Hillfoots first points of the match, the conversion was missed making the scores 7-5.
Orkney didn’t let the try dent their confidence though, and attacked hard yet again. The muddy pitch made long passes difficult, but the Orkney ‘tight ight’ worked hard and retained the ball well. Strong runs from Orkney number 8 Steven Paterson and Scott Rendall, who was playing out of position at scrum half, gave the Orkney backs a solid platform to play off. This soon paid off again, as Stand Off Chris Guthrie showed his speed and strength to break a couple of tackles and find his way through the Hillfoots defence, and offload to centre Jon Tait who scored under the posts, much to the delight of his team mates. Danny Bain as he had the easy job of converting to make the score 14-5.
Hillfoots responded well to the Try and didn’t let their heads go down and again they tested the Orkney defence, with some good runs from their pacey backs. Again, Orkneys tackles weren’t low enough and Hillfoots were making good yards through their hefty front row, and quickly answered Orkneys 2nd try with a try of their own. This time it was the Hillfoots loosehead prop who crashed over the line, but again, the conversion was missed from an easy position, giving Orkney a 4 point lead, 14-10.
Orkney had a quick team talk and knew they had to cut down their penalty count and tackle lower, and did this very well. With 10 minutes left in the half Orkney fought hard to get some more points on the board, and came close, as a well executed backs move created a gap for fullback Craig Slater to go crashing though, he offloaded to Chris Guthrie but it was knocked on just meters from the line as he tried to pass the ball out wide. Orkney were unlucky not to score but they eventually reaped the rewards for their persistent pressure, Philip Ross showed excellent feetwork and pace to beat his opposite man and find Craig Slater in support, who scored in the corner. Danny’s kick was a good effort but didn’t quite have the legs, making the score 19-10.
This was to be the last score of the first half, but the Orkney squad knew that the second half was going to be a much tougher affair, with legs starting to tire on the heavy playing surface, and Orkney playing up the hill for the next 40 mins.
Hillfoots tactics for the second half seemed to be to kick Orkney under pressure, and keep them pinned down in their own 22. They executed their game plan well but despite probing at the Orkney tryline a number of times they were unable to capitalize. Hillfoots came close to scoring when their forward pack drove over the line, but Orkneys tight head prop, Adam Baird, conveniently found himself lying underneath the ball, and the ball was unable to be touched down.
Hillfoots continued to apply pressure, and Orkney couldn’t seem to get out of their own half. Finally, after around 20 minutes, the ball came loose at the back of a ruck, still in the Orkney 22. Chris Guthrie was quick to react and punted the ball to Orkney 10m line where Philip Ross managed to kick the ball to the Hillfoots 22m line, and showing great speed and stamina, beat the fullback to ball. Again, Ross chose to kick it, this time over the try line, and again he beat the last Hillfoots defender to score a thrilling bonus point Try. Danny was unlucky not to convert, making the score 24-10.
This was an important score for Orkney, and, with their spirits lifted it was their turn to apply pressure of their own. Orkney looked confident with the ball in hand and all of the team seemed eager to carry the ball. This proved to be a bit of a handful for Hillfoots, and Orkney made valuable yards up the hill and into scoring distance. After a great display of slick hands and good support from the whole squad, Orkneys hooker Steven Groat dived over the line to stretch Orkneys lead to 29-10. Danny failed to convert. Hillfoots did not give up, however, and yet again put Orkney under relentless pressure, desperate to close the gap. Orkneys scrum had been solid all day, but when Hillfoots were awarded a scrum 5m out, they were able to drive the away side back, and their number 8 touched it down. This time it was converted, making the score 29-17.
Orkney were beginning to tire, and it showed, as they gave away a lot of penalties, and allowed the Hillfoots to run at them again. Again this paid off for the home side, as their number 8 was allowed to score a soft try in the corner. The try wasn’t converted, but it was enough to bring Hillfoots within 7 points of Orkney, which gave them a losing bonus point, but it also meant they could draw with Orkney if they scored in the dying minutes.
The final whistle couldn’t come sooner for Orkney and Scott Rendall took great pleasure in kicking the ball into touch as the referee blew for the last time. This was a great result for the visitors, a second away win with a bonus point at the end of a very tough 5 away games on the bounce.
Orkneys man of the match was Fullback Craig Slater, who tackled like hard and low all game, he also fielded well and looked confident in a position that was new to him. All of the Orkney team had performances that were worthy of a mention, and will be feeling confident going into next weeks home game against Highland. Orkney Captain, Alan Brown, wanted to thank all the players that travelled, especially those who were able to attend all 5 away games.
Orkney Squad: Garry Coltherd, Steven Groat, Adam Baird, Stephen Kemp, Derek Robb, Billy Elliot, Danny Bain, Steven Paterson, Scott Rendall, Chris Guthrie, Ewan Coltherd, Jon Tait, Philip Ross, David Grant, Craig Slater, Tom Huggard, Ewan Manson.
More photos from the match can be found here.
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