Hard-Fought Win Keeps Orkney Rfc On Top

A CONVERTED try in each half and a penalty in each half gave Orkney victory over Strathmore - who could only manage one of each - in an enthralling encounter on Saturday afternoon.

A crowd of over 300 at a blustery Pickaquoy saw Orkney run out 20-10 winners in a highly entertaining contest between the two sides that began the day as first and second in the league.

Orkney took the lead in the seventh minute through a James Linklater penalty and looked as if they might continue with the initiative as captain John Dearness had a break minutes later.

However, Strathmore came into the game on the quarter hour, first with a penalty slotted by scrum half Gary Wood, and then with a try from inside centre Stewart Ross, which was converted by Wood for a 10-3 lead to the visitors after 16 minutes.

The match could have had a very different outcome if Orkney had not drawn level before half time. But they did so through a strong bit of running from Marcus Guthrie into the Strathmore 22, which ended with twin brother Chris going over to score to the left of the posts. James Linklater's conversion made it all square just four minutes before the turnaround.

It took a flash of brilliance from Orkney to regain the lead, and it came from scrum half Willie Thomson in the 47th minute when he circled the pack and broke through the Strathmore line. The scrum half offloaded to John Dearness (pictured) at precisely the right moment and the Orkney captain ran in under the posts for a try that sent the home crowd - not to mention the scorer himself - into wild celebration.

The conversion kick from James Linklater - Orkney's man of the match - was important, but perhaps even more crucial was the penalty that he kicked in the 55th minute to put Orkney two scores ahead.

The visitors did put up a great effort in the closing minutes, and had several attacks in the time when Orkney went down to 14 men after Andrew Cuddihy was yellow-carded for - as the referee later put it - being in the wrong place at the right time. The flanker was judged to have slowed down play deliberately when the teams had been warned they would be penalised for this.

Orkney held firm though, and it was the home team and support that celebrated a hard-fought win as full time was signalled.

With eight wins from eight starts, Orkney now lead Scottish Hydro Caledonia League Division 1 on points difference from Glenrothes, over whom they have a game in hand. Both teams have 38 points, with third placed St Andrews University on 37, and Strathmore now in fourth with 33 points.

Next week sees the league leaders away to Stirling University, who are seventh, with four wins and four defeats so far.