Aberdeen - Saturday 12th October 2019
Aberdeen Wanderers 12, Orkney RFC 52
On Saturday 12th September Orkney RFC travelled away on league business to play Aberdeen Wanderers. This was the second time Orkney had played Wandies this season. The earlier game had been in the Caledonia shield where Orkney had run out comfortable winners.
Orkney travelled with a strong playing squad despite several players either injured or unavailable. Fortunately, the ferry journey was calm and smooth as the team had to “rough” it in pods due to school holiday season filling all the cabins.
Playing conditions were excellent; minimal wind, warm and a dry pitch albeit fairly short and narrow.
At this scrum Wandies showed their intent and desire, proceeding to force the Orkney pack backwards and concede a penalty. This penalty was kicked to touch just inside the Orkney 22m line. The hosts won the lineout and mounted an attack, managing to get over the Orkney try line where the attacking player was prevented from scoring by Orkney number eight Alan (goose) Brown who used his strength and power to hold him up. From the resultant scrum on the Orkney 5m line Wandies played the ball out to their backs.
Their fullback came in to the line on a good angle at pace and broke through to score under the posts. The try was converted.
Orkney were struggling to get in to the game, whether this was down to a combination of personnel changes, the boat or the opposition was hard to tell. The scrum in particular was under pressure and this made good first phase possession difficult.
After about ten or so minutes Orkney were still seven points down. They conceded a penalty on the halfway line. This was kicked to touch by Wandies who won the lineout and played the ball out to their backs. By now though the Orkney backline defence was starting to get in to the game, showing good line speed they pressured Wandies in to a mistake with the ball going to ground where it bobbled about.
Orkney winger Matt Jackson managed to stoop and pick the ball up. He then took off and sprinted to the home try line to score. Connor Hancock stepped up and slotted the conversion.
This try was a tad fortunate as an Orkney player appeared to have knocked the ball forwards prior to Matt picking it up. However, the referee waved play on.
From the restart Orkney made ground through a combination of good phase play and aggressive carrying. Orkney scrum half David Bruce then made a good box kick to the home 22m line.
The kick chase was good and determined Orkney tackling kept them there. Play was stopped for an injury break to a Wandies player (this was to be the first of many stoppages for injuries to home players).
Orkney were still struggling to find any sort of rhythm. Primarily due to the referee’s whistle and what seemed like a conscious effort on behalf of the home team to slow down proceedings.
Twenty-five minutes in the score line was still seven each. The bulk of play was taking place between the twenty-two metre lines with each side trying to forge an opening.
At this stage Orkney introduced prop Neil Campbell for his first cap to see if this would solidify the scrum.
The deadlock was broken about five minutes before half time. Orkney secured clean ball from a strong forward carry and ruck on the half way. The ball was played quickly out the line where Kyle Robb managed to outflank the defence and sprint over for the try under the posts. Connor duly converted.
Shortly after the restart Orkney had a lineout on their own twenty-two metre line. Clean ball was secured and passed out along the backs where full back Kyle Robb had come in to the line.
He played a lovely ball to put the supporting Scott Russell in to space on the left, he then sprinted clear and angled back towards the midfield where Willie Thomson and Matt Jackson had made up good ground to get in support. Scott drew the last defender and passed to Willie who finished the move by scoring under the posts.
Connor added the extras.
This made it 21 – 7 at half time, a score line that suggested Orkney were in control. However, the score did not tell the whole tale. The home side had the edge in the scrum during the first quarter and their forward pick and go tactic was testing Orkneys fringe defence.
As well as the tactical change in the first half Orkney were also forced to introduce Andrew Linklater for Philip (Pip) Ross. Andrew went to fullback and Kyle moved to the wing.
The second half saw the home team determined to get back in to the game. Following a deep kick off by Connor Wandies let the ball go to touch. However, they exited well and took play back up to the Orkney 22m line. Play broke down and Orkney cleared the danger.
Orkney went on to score five more tries to one despite the determination and passion shown by the Wandie’s players. First on the scoresheet was Matt Jackson who finished a passing move.
Andrew Linklater was next to score after a great run by prop Craig (Juicy) Rendall who was unfortunate to be stopped just short of the try line although Andrew reacted quickly and flopped over to score.
By now Orkney were playing the game more in the opposition half and reaping the rewards from this. Second rower big Duncan Gray then took a pass and used his size and power to canter over from the twenty-two-metre line.
Wandies then managed to take play up to the Orkney twenty-two and from sustained forward pressure with good ball retention edged themselves closer and closer to the Orkney try line until they eventually scored an unconverted try in the corner.
Shortly after they were back on the Orkney twenty-two but good offensive tackling forced a knock on.
From the resultant scrum; captain Scott Rendall hooked the ball cleanly down channel one to the feet of number eight Goose. He then powered off the base, broke through a couple of attempted tackles and was in behind the home defence with only the fullback running to intercept him.
Meanwhile openside flanker Jon Tait after a little encouragement from the second row was sprinting hard to catch up with Goose. This he did and received a perfectly timed pass allowing him to run in from the home ten metre line and score the try.
The final Orkney try was scored by young standoff Connor Hancock. Connor also converted two of the second half tries and David Bruce stepped up and converted Connors.
Final score 52-12 to Orkney. Credit to the home side who made Orkney work for everything and who had improved greatly from the Shield fixture earlier in the season.
The Orkney coaches and players were delighted to leave Aberdeen with another five points towards their league total.
Thanks to Duncan Gray who came in and played his heart out despite a short notice call up.
Congratulations to prop Neil Campbell on his first Orkney cap and he will be a useful addition to the squad as the season progresses.
Players man of the match was Goose who put in a rumbustious performance in attack and defence and deserved the accolade on the day.
Orkney do not have a league or shield game now until November (exact date of next fixture still TBC).
To ensure all the players remain match fit and ready for the games ahead there will be an internal game on Saturday 19th October. Kick off is at 3pm and it is open to all senior men who wish to play rugby.
The week after; 26th October a friendly has been arranged against Highland second XV in Inverness. The club are also gauging interest for a second team to travel and play Ross Sutherland the same day.
Anyone interested should contact or message Derek Robb at their earliest convenience on 07759134840.