Picky - Saturday 16th March, 2013
Orkney 28, Gordonians 13
With Orkney going into the final two home matches of the 2012/13 league campaign seeking wins in both to keep out of the relegation zone, they wasted no time on Saturday in achieving the first half of the necessary back-to-back victories.
Visitors Gordonians were caught napping as a kick through from Magnus Flett in the opening minute set James Linklater on his way to the line for the opening try, catching out not only the opposition, but many of the spectators gathering on the touchline at Pickaquoy on what was a relatively calm and mild afternoon. The try went unconverted, with Linklater’s kick just wide.
It turned out to be an exchange of penalties, as Linklater kicked one a minute later from the edge of the 22, restoring Orkney’s five-point lead.
This was clearly going to be an open and possibly high-scoring match, as Gordonians replied with an unconverted try to make the score 8-8 after nine minutes.
Just to keep the momentum, James Linklater was back with a penalty chance in the tenth minute, and Orkney were averaging just over a point a minute at 11-8.
Orkney’s forwards now came into their own and multiple phases took them up the right until over-eagerness in the Gordonians ranks saw the home side with a penalty, kicked to touch for a lineout inside the Gordonians 22.
Securing the ball well, Orkney’s forwards rumbled strongly towards the line, although it was eventually scrum-half Magnus Flett who picked the moment to touch down. The conversion was just wide again, making the score 16-8 with 15 minutes gone.
Gordonians came back at Orkney and were inside the 22, but Al Watson and Philip Ross combined in a break up the right that swiftly turned defence into attack. Soon after Adam Baird and again Ross made yards to take the battle back towards the Gordonians line.
A clearance from the visitors only eased the pressure momentarily and Orkney’s forwards again worked into the 22 until Gordonians again gave away a penalty to allow Orkney to kick for a lineout and again a forwards assault on the try line. James Linklater had the ball down, but the referee judged that there had been a Gordonians hand under it and brought things back for a scrum. There was no argument this time, as the second of two scrums saw Adam Baird power over from the back of the pack. This unconverted try put Orkney 21-8 up with less than half an hour gone.
As the half wore to a close the tempo dropped a bit, but a sliced Gordonians penalty went straight to Bruce Ruthven on the right, who hoisted the ball high for Philip Ross to get under. This brought Orkney back into the Gordonians 22 but the visitors were given another penalty and this time there was no slice.
Into the closing minutes of the half, and Darren McLean had a fine break before getting the ball out to the right to Graham Poke, who kicked on towards the Gordonians line. The visitors scrambled back though and the try-scoring chance was smothered. As the half ended, Magnus Flett saw yellow, so Orkney knew they would start the second half a man down.
It was unlikely that the second half of this match was going to match the pace and scoring intensity of the opening half hour of the first 40 minutes – and so it turned out.
A Bruce Ruthven penalty attempt that dropped short in the 47th minute was as exciting as it got in the early stages, but soon after a Ruthven kick to touch saw another lineout within striking distance of the Gordonians line. Try as they might though, Orkney couldn’t breach the line during an intensive five minutes of attack and the visitors eventually snaffled the ball to kick clear.
And so it was that the match reached the hour mark with no further scoring and the match was a bit of a midfield battle for a spell. Gordonians were penalised for feeding in the scrum right on the back of being hauled up for a squint lineout throw, giving Orkney territorial advantage once more.
An injury stop for a cut to Garry Coltherd’s leg halted things for a few minutes and then Gordonians lost a man to the sin bin.
Then, with little over ten minutes remaining, Adam Baird was over for Orkney, but judged to have been held up. The resulting scrum saw the ball eventually come wide for Bruce Ruthven, who had called for the ball as he sprinted up the left wing, giving him the momentum to go over for a great bonus point try. A great conversion kick from wide on the touchline saw James Linklater bring the score to 28-8 in Orkney’s favour.
That should have been it, but Gordonians were not finished and a succession of penalties in their favour meant that the final move of the match saw them go over in the corner to make the score 28-13.
Adam Baird and Philip Ross shared Orkney’s man of the match award.
Orkney’s final match of the league campaign is due to kick off at 12.30pm this Saturday, March 23, when they entertain Hillfoots. A good crowd to cheer on the team in another must-win encounter would be much appreciated.