Travel for the game was via Loganair flight to Edinburgh on the Saturday morning something the whole squad are appreciating. Flying made possible by travel assistance from the Scottish rugby union and great flexibility shown by Loganair group bookings.
The squad not unusually for Orkney rugby was showing several changes from the season opener. Back from injury were Vice-Captain Connor Hancock and young James Donohoe. Liam Moar, Cammy Gray, Tom McArthur and Connor Macleod all added to the squad as well. Young back rower Craig Brough missing out through a finger injury picked up at work.
The game commenced with Orkney receiving the kick in dry conditions with a strong wind blowing across the pitch.
Unlike the season opener Orkney were making uncharacteristic errors allowing the big home pack to gain easy metres and field position.
Early on this led to a penalty to the home side but fortunately for Orkney the wind blew the ball past the side of the posts.
An early let off perhaps and a chance for Orkney to re group and find their rhythm. However, it was Murrayfield who opened the scoring.
Orkney were in the home half looking to engineer a score of their own when a lack of accuracy led to a turnover. The big home stand-off then struck a long clearance kick that was carried in to touch by an Orkney player about ten metres out from the Orkney line.
At the resultant lineout Murrayfield executed a well-rehearsed catch a drive that the visitors were unable to stop and a home player dotting the ball down for a try out wide. The conversion missed.
However shortly after Orkney started to find their accuracy and were soon in the opposition half applying pressure probing left and right through forwards and backs. This drew a penalty about fifteen metres out from the try line. William Thomson ever the opportunist took a quick tap, he was stopped just short of the line. The ball was then recycled quickly and passed to Mark Sinclair moving at pace who burrowed over for the try. Connor Hancock stepping up to slot the conversion.
Shortly after Orkney once more were guilty of poor tackling allowing the home side to break up the left flank only a try saving tackle from Sinclair averting disaster five metres out.
The home side were still in an excellent attacking area of the field and were testing the visitors defence repeatedly. Orkney on this occasion were standing up to the onslaught. Then during one such attack the home side opted to move the ball wide to their winger with a looped pass. This was spotted by James Donohoe the tall Orkney winger plucking the ball out of the sky with one hand, catching it and then taking off on a run that would see him make it all the way to the home try line for the score. Hancock unable to convert.
Soon the home side were back in Orkney territory on the attack. From a scrum about twenty metres out their number eight who was having a fine game broke from the base and popped to his scrum half. Who was able to evade the Orkney defence and run over for a converted try to tie the score at twelve all.
Orkney once more were back in the home half playing at pace and accuracy testing the home defence pulling them right then switching play left where there was some space for the backs to run. Sinclair in the line from fullback drew the last defender and passed to winger Slater who dived over in the corner for a score despite a furious lunge by the home number eight. Attention Slater appeared none to happy with and a “debate” ensued that led to words of wisdom being dished out to both players by the referee. Hancock unable to add the conversion.
Orkney now having their best spell of the game were soon on the attack once more following a good clearance kick by Thomson and chase by Slater they forced a home defender in to touch just outside their twenty – two metres line. Orkney then caught and drove the ball through the forwards before moving the ball right, finding Donohoe in enough space to beat his opposite man and score in the corner. Hancock unable to slot the difficult conversion.
The final score of the half was a penalty for Orkney converted by Hancock.
Half time 12 – 25 in favour of Orkney who despite a poor start had managed to get the upper hand against a determined Murrayfield side.
Orkney brought on Cammy Gray at flanker for Connor Macleod at half time looking for his strength and power to make a difference.
The second period began with Orkney looking to push on and extend their lead. Murrayfield Wanderers looking to close the gap and push on for the win.
It was Wanderers who stepped up to the plate and showed their determination to get back on terms. Following poor defence by Orkney at the ruck they were in behind the defensive line and supporting the ball carrier well. They kept the ball alive despite despairing tackles by Orkney to score a well deserved try in the corner. This score being converted despite the strong wind.
Orkney went back on the attack with a period of play in the home half trying to create a try of their own but once more a lack of accuracy was leading to turnovers. Following one such turnover Orkney winger Slater was harshly adjudged to have lifted a home player above the horizontal in the tackle. Not only conceding a penalty but being shown a yellow card and ten minutes in the sin bin.
Murrayfield seemed energised by this and once more were soon in the Orkney half attacking and being awarded several penalties because of the pressure. This allowed them to edge ever closer to the try line and eventually barge over for a converted score that allowed them to retake the lead by a point.
Going in to the last fifteen minutes Orkney were back to full strength with Slater back on the field and looking for a score of their own.
Orkney were once more deep in the home half trying to engineer a score but following a poor lineout the home side looked to clear their lines. One of their players carried the ball forward but as he was half tackled and falling Orkney forward Gray caught him on the head as he went to complete the tackle. Once more Orkney were reduced to fourteen players, Gray shown a yellow card.
Not what the visitors wanted or needed at this stage of the match, behind on the scoreboard, a player down and still making errors. Could they somehow find the resolve to score and win the game.
Oh, how the question was answered, with Murrayfield back in attack on the Orkney twenty-two metre line the ball was turned over. Orkney quickly transitioned to attack and were soon making yards up the park through well supported determined runs Scott Rendall, Sinclair, Donohoe, Slater and Thomson all to the fore. The ball recycled efficiently and quickly causing problems for the home defence. Now at the left-hand side of the home twenty-two metre line the ball was passed from the ruck to Thomson. He looked up and saw Scott Rendall and Jon Tait unmarked on the right flank. He then struck a lovely Crossfield kick to Rendall who caught the ball and ran over for the try to end lovely passage of play. Hancock this time made no mistake with the conversion.
Back in the lead Orkney were under the cosh for the final minutes of the game. Where before Orkney were generous in defence they were now fully immersed in the job at hand and managed to repel the home side repeatedly to see the game out to the end.
The final whistle being blown to cheers of delight by the Orkney players and the support.
Orkney club president Garry Coltherd and coach Derek Robb both looking ten years older but delighted with the islanders’ never say die attitude and resilience.
Player of the match for Orkney was awarded to James Donohoe who was well worth his two tries and showed a real appetite for work and defence.
This Saturday sees Strathmore RFC travel to Orkney for the next fixture in National 3. Orkney will be looking to build on their two bonus point away wins against an undefeated Strathmore side who are battle hardened to the rigours of this league. Kick off is set for 1330hrs at the Picky centre pitch.
Orkney team; Owen Griffiths, Scott Rendall, Craig Rendall, Adam Watt, Tom David, Jon Tait, Connor Macleod, Liam Moar, Ali Morgan, Connor Hancock, William Thomson, Scott Russell, Craig Slater, James Donohoe, Mark Sinclair, subs; Jamie Hutchison, Cammy Gray, Tom McArthur, Jacob Heal
Contacts & Location