Stornoway v Orkney 10th December 2016
Saturday morning saw 18 under 14 players head south to play Stornoway at the neutral venue in Invergordon. The boat and bus journey were very good and the weather was also unseasonably nice.
From the kick-off, Stornoway appeared to have the upper hand in attack. They had a couple of very good ball carriers that were able to cut through the Orkney defence. The lack of effective tackling from Orkney in the early stages allowed Stornoway to run in 3 converted tries. When Orkney did retain the ball, their game phases were very good. The bigger ball carriers like Archie and Guy gained good ground and this allowed other players like Cameron, Tom, Jake and Finn to take the available offloads. Unfortunately, poor ball retention in the final yards of these attacks meant that Stornoway stole quite a lot of balls and were able to counter attack effectively.
In the middle 20 minute period of play, Orkney managed to retain a lot more ball and strung together very good phases of play. In the scrum, Marcus, Vinn, Connor, Euan and James all played well, contributing to the effective Orkney scrum with no balls being lost against the head. Ryan, Zander, Aiden and Scott showed some fancy foot work to keep the ball moving forward by running into spaces while Jack and Ben took the more direct route. At the rucks, Conrad was able to dig out the ball and provide tidy ball to the supporting players. The improved period of play saw Stornoway only getting 2 converted tries to Orkneys 1 unconverted try which was scored through Tom taking the score at the end of the middle phase to 20 – 6 to Stornoway.
At the final 20 minute period, Orkney were still not completely out of the game and they started with some fire in their bellies after the coaches’ chat. However, the Stornoway players were still keen to use their strong runners and these relentless charges meant that Orkney picked up a few injuries from knocks in the contact area. Enforced substitutes were made so the tired players came back on which affected the continuity in the Orkney squad. The tiring Orkney squad allowed Stornoway to dominate more of the final session and they increased their score line by a further 4 tries with 3 of them being converted. Orkney managed to score a consolation try from Cameron but by this time, the damage had already been done. The final score was Stornoway 35 and Orkney 9. Orkney’s man of the match was Zander Scott for his strength in his tackling and his work rate looking for the ball and yards gained while on the attack. The squad can take a lot out of this game. They held their own in the scrum and when they had the ball, they adopted a more direct running style and made good yards. Some of the points to work on would be protecting the ball in contact, swifter rucking and more effective tackling. These will be worked on during the training sessions in the New Year. Training is now finished for the Festive Period but will resume at the Market Stance Sand School at 6pm on Monday the 9th January.
Squad: Marcus Slater, Archie Flett, Guy Summerfield, Vinn Russell, Cameron Foy (c), Connor MacLeod, Euan Stevenson, James Donohoe, Jake Davidson, Tom McArthur, Ryan Gibson, Ben Swannie, Finn Hancock, Aidan Foubister (vc), Zander Scott, Scott McCartney, Jack Leitch and Conrad Johnston. Coaches: John Rendall, Neil McCartney and John Cairns.