This was the return fixture from the opening game of the season in Edinburgh where Orkney ran out convincing winners with a try bonus point in balmy 17-degree autumnal sun.
Safe to say conditions for the game were rather cooler. Hovering just above freezing with a stiff North Breeze added into the equation. Rain and sleet showers that morning also making the pitch heavy but still playable even after an internal game of rugby prior to kick off.
Royal High commenced the game kicking to Orkney who had the breeze on their backs.
Orkney were soon on the attack looking to move the visiting pack around the filed of play. However, from a promising position ten metres from the try line Orkney were penalised after breaking away from a maul. The referee deeming, they had prevented a tackle on the ball carrier.
Royal High kicked to touch and after winning their line out were using heavy forwards to try and penetrate the home defence. Orkney were up to the task forcing a knock on, followed by a cheap penalty committed by the visiting scrum half for hands in the scrum allowing them to kick up field.
The opening exchanges were a scrappy affair with both teams making unforced errors and unable to build pressure. The conditions playing their part, slippery underfoot and the muddyball making crisp handling difficult.
With fifteen minutes on the clock Orkney were first to score. The visitors executing a poor goal line drop out giving Orkney possession ten metres from the try line. After a couple of forward drives Thomson passed to Hancock who took the attack to Royal High running hard, he was stopped just before the try line, quick ruck ball fed to number eight Robbie Firth who powered over for the score beside the uprights.
Hancock stepped up to convert but before starting his run up the ball fell off the tee. He went to replace the ball, but the referee, with the visitors appealing loudly deemed he had commenced his run and the conversion opportunity missed.
Perhaps this score would allow Orkney to gain some momentum, but alas the scrappy nature of proceedings continued.
Orkney were dealt a blow with Twenty-six minutes gone when scrum half William Thomson shown a harsh yellow card. Thomson cleared the ball backwards from the grasp of his own player at a ruck. The referee deeming this dangerous.
The second try for Orkney came with half an hour gone. From an Orkney line out ten metres inside the visitors half Orkney initially mauled the ball making a few yards before Hancock deputising at scrum half passed the ball to Russell. He drew the defence on to him before releasing a hard running Firth. Russell followed the run and received the scoring pass from Firth to canter under the posts. Hancock stepping up to convert.
Royal High to their credit came right back at Orkney through multiple phases of big forward runners trying to breech the home defence. Their accuracy in contact despite the greasy ball and some heavy tackles, excellent allowing them to edge ever closer to the try line and build pressure. This was to no avail as Orkney held, forced a penalty allowing a clearance kick back up field.
Orkney were back on the attack and just five metres out from the visitors try line looking for another score before half time. Inaccuracy at a ruck lost the opportunity an Orkney player going off their feet to concede a penalty.
Royal High choosing to kick the ball out for half time. Orkney 12-0 to the good and disappointed not to have converted a couple of promising attacks. They would however been delighted not to have conceded a score during the period of Royal High pressure.
The second half started with Orkney kicking towards the peedie sea. They soon were on the attack but again Royal High forced a turnover and started to go up field pressuring the defence. This led to a couple of penalties against Orkney allowing the visitors to gain chunks of territory and a lineout five metres out from the Orkney line. Orkney defended the initial exchanges well but once the ball was moved marginally wider the Royal High centres combined well to barge over the try line for an unconverted try.
Orkney scored their third and what would prove to be final try of the afternoon shortly after the restart. Following both sides turning ball over at the breakdown Orkney were in possession. Scott Rendall fired out a high loopy left-handed pass to no one in particular. The ball hitting the ground, Russell reacted quickly scooping the ball up without pausing and ran at the defence. He passed to centre partner Donohoe who continued the move. He then passed back inside trying to find winger Stevenson, but the ball hit a defender and went to ground. Stevenson then used his football skills to dribble the ball over the try line before falling on the ball to score. Once more Hancock stepped up to convert.
The final try of the match belonged to Royal High and came after a prolonged spell of pressure in the Orkney half. Carry after forward carry testing the Orkney defence who looked to be absorbing everything that was launched at them. However, this pressure had narrowed the Orkney defence and the visitors spotted the opportunity to spin the ball wide and score wide on the left flank. The difficult conversion missed.
Shortly after the whistle blew to end the game Orkney winning a turgid encounter by nineteen points to ten.
Overall conditions played a huge part in the quality of rugby on show for the hardy spectators. Orkneys usual free flowing style curtailed in the cold and wet. Royal High put in an excellent shift in conditions more suited to their big heavy pack and in the end unlucky not to get a losing point for being within seven points.
Sponsors for the match were Casey construction and the ORFC supporters. Mascot for the day was Alie Groundwater.
This Saturday sees Orkney travel to Hillhead Jordanhill RFC for the next fixture in National 3. Orkney will be looking to avenge their narrow home defeat by Hillhead and cut out the unforced errors that proved so costly at home.
Erland Drever, Scott Rendall, Craig Rendall, Adam Watt, Liam Moar, Connor Macleod, Craig Brough, Robbie Firth, William Thomson, Connor Hancock, Ewan Stevenson, Scott Russell, James Donohoe, Jacob Heal, Philip Ross, subs; Alistair Linklater (captain), Ali Amer, Graham Poke, Justine Pizon
Contacts & Location