Travel for the game was via Northlink ferry to Aberdeen. Northlink being great long-term supporters of the club through their community sponsorship scheme.
This was Orkney’s first match after a three-week hiatus due to the autumn international window. Not the best preparation going into a game against the league leaders.
Unfortunately, Orkney were unable to list a full squad due to work commitments and unavailability. Notably experienced players and season regulars William Thomson, Jon Tait,and Scott Rendall all unable to travel.
With a squad of seventeen Orkney arrived at Countesswells playing fields. This was soon to be reduced to sixteen with prop Neil Campbell pulling up injured during the warmup, leaving coach Derek Robb as the only replacement.
The game commenced with a strong wind blowing the length of the pitch. With the wind behind them Gordonians kicked to the visitors.
Gordonians were soon applying pressure well inside the Orkney half and their first try was not long in coming. Following several forward drives to narrow the defence the ball was spun wide for the home winger to score a try converted by the home centre.
This was to be an all too regular pattern throughout the half and the second try was on the board shortly after. Poor Orkney tackling allowing a Gordonians forward to score under the posts, once more converted.
The home side would go on to score seven more tries in the first half, four of these with successful conversions.
Orkney did manage to work their way in to Gordonians territory on several occasions. Some good hard running by Captain Linklater, Craig Brough, Liam Moar, and big Duncan Gray on his first outing for some time in an Orkney shirt.
However, mistakes at crucial moments never allowed them to create any real pressure. The home side booming wind assisted clearance kicks back over their heads.
Half time 57–0 in favour of Gordonians who were underlying their position as league leaders.
Orkney were enjoying more possession and were soon on the attack again and on another day could have scored two more tries. First centre Scott Russell made a lovely break and as he went to step the final defender to score lost his footing allowing the defence to re organise. Then shortly after Orkney were battering away at the try line but a poor carry led to the ball being dislodged and the chance was gone.
This seemed to galvanise Gordonians and they went back on the attack. Through a combination of good support and poor Orkney tackling they went over for another converted try. One of four they would score in the second half.
The islanders second and final try on the game came after once more securing possession and territory within the home twenty-two. Applying pressure and testing the defence Orkney were drawing penalties. This time from a penalty ten metres out captain Linklater took the quick tap and bulldozed his way over for a try. Hancock slotting the difficult conversion.
During the final minutes Orkney were back hammering on the home try line looking for a final score to end on a positive note. Scrum half Tom McArthur thought he had scored grounding the ball at the foot of the post, but alas due to a law change this was no longer a try. The ball was recycled though, but the ball was held up in goal and the referee blew to end the game.
Final score 83 – 14 for Gordonians who underlined their title credentials. Orkney had a tough day at the office with all the upheaval to the team not only in squad numbers but several players playing out of position. Orkney did well to score two tries and show their resilience during the second half. Had they taken all their second half chances a consolation point for four tries would have been just reward for their commitment and effort.
It was good to see Duncan Gray back in an Orkney shirt playing alongside his younger brother Ronan for the first time. Other notable performers on a difficult day being Tom McArthur, Craig Brough, Liam Moar, Ally Linklater, James Donohoe, and Justine Pizon. Justine being awarded players player of the match on his first outing at fullback.
Thanks also to George Brown for his continued live streaming of the games through his Rohallion YouTube channel. All this seasons’ games are there for supporters to view whenever they want in full HD.
This Saturday sees Perthshire RFC travel to Orkney for the next fixture in National 3. Orkney will be looking to bounce back with an improved performance. Kick off is set for 1330hrs at the Picky centre pitch.
Orkney team: Alistair Linklater, Craig Rendall, Michael Gray, Adam Watt, Ronan Gray,Duncan Gray, Craig Brough, Liam Moar, Tom McArthur, Connor Hancock, Jacob Heal, Scott Russell, Gary Nicolson, James Donohoe, Justine Pizon, Sub; Derek Robb
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