RBS Caledonia League Division 1
Pickaquoy infield – Saturday 21st September 2013
Orkney 30, Perthshire 23
Orkney played host to a Perthshire side they met in the Caledonia Cup fixture just a few weeks previous. On that occasion Perthshire secured a narrow victory by 24-22, so all was set for a close encounter between two evenly matched sides at Pickaquoy on Saturday afternoon.
Orkney had only made a handful of changes with Mathew Byers and Graeme Slater given their chance on the Bench along with debutant Liam Sharpe.
The early encounters were frantic, with both sides testing out the other’s defences. Orkney took an early lead when the forwards provided a solid platform through numerous phases to give Darren Mclean the ball in space. He was tackled by the last defender but slipped a fantastic offload to Adam Baird who ran in the try to give Orkney the first points of the game.
Perthshire exceeded a period of pressure on the Orkney line, with the home side’s defence looking strong, Rendall, Poke, Hayes and fly half Chris Guthrie all putting in huge hits smashing the opposition backwards. The referee awarded the visitors a penalty, and the kicker calmly slotted the penalty to narrow the gap to two points.
The Orkney forwards worked tirelessly all afternoon to provide the backs with ball to play with. The scrum was strong, with Ali Linklater putting in another consistent performance in the engine room along with Sean Cursiter, Alan Brown and Danny Bain providing good clean ball of the top of the lineout. One such lineout lead to fly-half Guthrie receiving quality ball, rather than using his runner options as in previous plays he took the ball to the line himself, breaking the gain line and showing the defenders a clean pair of heels, a superb individual effort to extend Orkney’s first half lead.
A momentary lack of concentration by the forward pack enabled Perthshire to establish a strong driving maul which resulted in a score for the visitors. They scored another try moments later after some poor play from the home side enabled the visitors to out strip their defence and take the lead for the first time in the game.
Half time: Orkney 10, Perthshire 15.
Orkney have been guilty in recent weeks of ‘switching off’ after the half time interval. This wasn’t to be this time fortunately. Baird and Rendall combined in midfield to release Guthrie, who again showed his pace to score in the corner to bring the scores level. The pressure was maintained on the opposition’s line, with the Orkney forwards battering at the defences. Drever, Brown and Co all tried to batter their way over the line, and eventually scrum-half Ruthven slipped through to extend Orkney’s lead to ten points.
The away side’s fly half calmly slotted a drop goal to reduce the gap to two points again, which set the game up perfectly for an exciting last 20 minutes.
Orkney extend their lead, following a break by full-back James Linklater, Ruthven was on hand to finish the score to give the home side the ascendancy once again. The substitutes were introduced and all made and impact on the game, with Liam Sharpe, a player who will no doubt become a permanent fixture in the First XV in years to come, producing a crunching tackle.
Full-back Linklater then got himself on the score sheet, with a tidy finish down the right touch line, Some inelegant kicking by the Orkney half-backs put the Perthshire side under pressure, the forwards ran through their phases the create the space for the full-back to score.
Perthshire did get themselves the bonus point score with the last play of the game, to make the score 30-23 from a well rehearsed rolling maul. Orkney’s inability to deal with this twice was quite worrying, but this will surely be worked on - a small negative in a superb performance against a strong side from 1-19. Chris Guthrie received the man of the match award for a strong all round performance including two fantastic tries.
Orkney would like the thank match sponsors the Pit Stop Garage and Lows Orkney, who have both supported the club for numerous years, as with all sponsors the club is hugely grateful of the support it receives.
The First XV hit the road this weekend coming to take on Dunfermline, who currently sit top of the table, unbeaten after three games.
Orkney: A Linklater, S Rendall, E Drever, S Cursiter, A Baird, D Bain, P Ross, A Brown (C), B Ruthven, C Guthrie, S Russell, G Poke, D Hayes, D Mclean, J Linklater, S Groat, M Byers, G Slater, L Sharpe.
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