Pickaquoy - Saturday 28th September 2019
Orkney RFC 102, Hillfoots RFC 5
On Saturday 28th September Hillfoots rugby made the long trip to Orkney for this Caledonia regional league fixture.
Orkney were keen to continue their winning start to the season. However, the previous weekends game had seen long term injuries picked up by two regular forwards and with other players unavailable it was testament to this year’s squad that Orkney still fielded a strong squad. Orkney started the game with four props and a hooker in the pack, this limited the lineout options a wee bit but certainly beefed up the scrum and maul!
Also making a welcome return to Orkney rugby was William Thomson who had until recently been playing with Watsonians in Edinburgh. His experience and knowledge of the game should assist with the development of the current squad, especially in the backline.
Weather conditions for the game were perfect; a slight breeze and it would remain dry for the game.
This turned out to be a bad omen for the visiting side who had only travelled with sixteen players due to some call offs late in the week and who may not have been as motivated as they could have been.
Orkney then set about crafting try after try for the rest of the game. Their pace, organisation and power proving too much for the opposition to cope with.
In total Orkney scored sixteen tries. The bonus point was wrapped up ten minutes in to the game with three further tries. The first by Glen Brough after a great burst through the centre by Scott Russell. Then from the Hillfoots kick off Orkney were penalised and forced to defend a lineout inside their twenty-two-metre line. Orkney Captain Scott Rendall ripped the ball from an opposition player and played it out to the backline who then swept upfield before play broke down on the Hillfoots twenty-two. Orkney had a scrum and from this executed a move than led to right winger Matt Jackson cantering in unopposed. Linklater converted. Next on the scoresheet was Philip Ross who although playing out of position in the forwards seemed to be enjoying himself. Linklater converted once more.
Bonus point wrapped up and with a fairly disorganised defence in front of them it would have been easy for Orkney to lose their own attacking and defensive shape. However, the coaches were pleased this did not happen. A feature of the game was good interplay between backs and forwards and when a line-break was made support players were usually on hand to assist and carry the attack on.
The next try was scored by Matt Jackson after forwards and backs combined to put him in space. His pace and elusive running did the rest. Linklater converted again.
Soon after with twenty-seven minutes on the clock Orkney were attacking in the opposition twenty-two. Unfortunately, young Glen Brough picked up a nasty looking knee injury after his studs seemed to catch in the turf when tackled. Play was held up for some eight minutes till the injury was stabilised and he was carried off the field.
This injury could have knocked Orkney off their stride but Alex Kansour came off the bench and entered the fray on to the flank where Glen had been playing on the day.
Before half time three more tries followed; Connor Hancock, Philip Ross and Scott Russell all scoring with only one converted.
The scoreboard showed fifty nine points to nil at half time for the home side. This was a true reflection on the first forty minutes with Hillfoots being devoid of ball and any real attacking flair.
Orkney coaches introduced William Thomson and Adam Watt in to the fray at half time. William on for young Connor Hancock at nine and Adam on to the flank in place of Philip Ross.
Four minutes after the restart Thomson made a try scoring return. After a well-constructed line break from their own half with three players in support it was Thomson who shouted the loudest and received the scoring pass. Indeed, it was Thomson who scored the next two tries; first supporting a line Break by Scott Russell in the centre and then a trademark Scott Rendall Break up the touchline. Two of these were converted by Linklater.
From the restart by Hillfoots, Orkney were penalised for blocking. Hillfoots kicked to the corner and then used their forwards to hammer in to the Orkney tight defence until it finally cracked and they scored an unconverted try.
Steven Macphail then entered the field of play to centre for Graham Poke.
Orkney managed to score four more tries before the whistle blew for no side. Christopher Guthrie, Matt Jackson, Philip Ross (back on for Kevin Sinclair) and to the loudest cheer of the day Adam Watt after running hard to get on the end of an Alex Kansour break. Connor Hancock who had come back on for Linklater converted two of these.
Final score 102-5. Three players scoring hat-ricks; Matthew Jackson, Philip Ross and William Thomson.
Players man of the match for Orkney was Scott Russell who was a handful for the opposition in both attack and defence with his hard, direct aggressive play.
The only blight on the day was the injury picked up by Glen Brough. All players and supporters of Orkney Rugby wish him a speedy recovery and are keeping their fingers crossed the damage is not too extensive.
It is hard to gauge how this squad of players has progressed from the previous season. None of the sides Orkney have encountered so far this season have really tested the team. One thing that is clear however is the depth of the squad. This is really paying dividend in terms of resilience and competition for places.
The referee for the game was Gordon Crossan of Grangemouth Rugby who managed the game well and kept up with play.
Match sponsor represented on the day by Cheryl Kelday was Northlink ferries who continue to provide much appreciated travel assistance to all the Orkney rugby squads.
Mascot for the day was young Tom Simpson who carried out his duties in exemplary fashion.
Next up for Orkney is a shield fixture away to Blairgowrie.