BT Caledonia League Division 1
Pickaquoy Infield - Saturday, November 22
ORKNEY RFC 24, STRATHMORE RFC 5
Two tries in each half gave Orkney a 24-5 bonus-point win over Strathmore at a damp Pickaquoy on Saturday afternoon.
There was a tinge of sadness surrounding the game as before the kick-off a minutes silence was held to mark the untimely passing of Laurence Leonard, who was an active member of Orkney RFC for many years, playing throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
With competitive matches between the sides stretching back to 1996-97 and Strathmore having the upper hand over the years, Orkney knew this would be no formality, and the visitors made it difficult for them throughout.
Orkney started brightly though, and Matthew Byers scored after early forward pressure saw Orkney camped on the Strathmore line for a spell. Kicking was always going to be tough into a strong south-east wind and James Linklater's first conversion attempt was coming back the way by the time it hit the pitch.
Orkney continued to have most of the ball and as they kicked forward into the Strathmore half Jon Tait was quickly up to tackle the visiting catcher to kill off any reply.
Orkney worked up into the Strathmore 22 and won the scrum that brought them their second score, the aforementioned Jon Tait receiving the ball out on the right and going over for another unconverted try.
Opening try-scorer Byers came off to be replaced by PJ McGrath as the half-hour was reached, with the rain now sleating down after a relatively dry spell on what was a dreich and dark Saturday.
Orkney were keeping ahead in terms of possession and territory, but they had to watch for the odd probing Strathmore kick.
William Thomson replied with interest, placing a great clearing kick up the right to get things back to half way with half an hour gone.
The visitors came back at them though and a lineout on the left allowed them to attack and score a relatively soft try, which went unconverted but left them just five points behind at the turnaround.
Orkney wasted no time in stretching their lead as the second half got under way. A tremendous Orkney scrum against the head from five metres saw Alan Brown touch down from No8 as the Orkney pack powered over the Strathmore line. James Linklater had the wind with him now and his kick made it 17-5 after 44 minutes.
It set things up for the bonus point win that Orkney needed. However the important fourth try eluded them for most of the rest of the second half, despite several determined attacks through both forwards and backs.
When it did come it was a piece of individual brilliance from Alan Brown, charging from the back of a scrum inside the 22 and breaking through the Strathmore defences to crash over in style.
Linklater was on target again and Orkney were soon celebrating a 24-5 win over a side that has always provided tough opposition.
After the match Orkney captain Adam Baird praised the team for a fantastic win in difficult conditions.
“We came with a game plan and executed it and got the five points, so I’m really pleased with that,” he said.
He also thanked sponsors NorthLink – represented by Cheryl Kelday, Tracy Linklater and Michelle Miller - and highlighted the importance of their support to every age group of the club in terms of travelling for away fixtures and tournaments.
Man of the Match for Orkney, on a day on which forwards were so important, and for his role in winning good clean lineout ball, was Sean Cursiter.
Orkney are due to head south next Saturday to play Ellon in a fixture that was re-arranged when Ellon couldn't get a team together in October.
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