Orkney and Shetland under-14s met last Saturday in Clickamin, Shetland for a full 15 a-side inter-county match that saw the Orcadian’s come out on top 12-10.
It was a try from Adam Fallows and conversion from John Esslement, at the death, that saw the visitors take the lead for the first time in the match and ultimately win the fixture.
Orkney Coach Bruce Ruthven said; “The boys have scraped through the Inter-county fixture with a narrow but deserved victory and are well pleased.
“They have shown good commitment this season and a mature approach to their fundraising to allow the trip to happen which was particularly pleasing and the whole experience serves them well for the years ahead.
“Their behaviour has been tremendous and we have all had a great time. Many thanks to Daniel and Rae Meadows for their big input in Shetland which made for a great, well organised and enjoyable weekend.”
Orkney captain for the day, Ali Morgan, won the toss and kicked off into a slight breeze. His side had some good early pressure with several decent runs deep into Shetland territory. With players having not played for over a month there was a lot of rustiness, which led to errors in all areas of the game.
At this stage, Shetland were capitalising on Orkney’s mistakes and a good solo run saw one of their players take the ball from his own 22 metre line to the other end of the field for the first try. The rest of the first half saw Shetland play the better rugby and they could have scored again if it hadn’t been for some excellent tackling from flankers Arron Gibson and Aran Drever.
The second half saw Shetland continue where they had left off in the first. They were soon in Orkney’s 22 again, where some neat work saw them split the defence for their second try. Orkney were now 10-0 down and this seemed to waken up some of the players, along with the encouragement from the side-lines.
Half-back pairing, Matthew Rendall and Ali Morgan started to get better distribution to the backs as well as better tactical kicking. Rucking was also improved and Ryan Arcus was always sniping around the edges. A sustained period of pressure from the Orkney boys saw number 8, Douglas Murray pop a lovely pass to fellow forward Dylan Evans, who had a clear run to the try line to score.
The ball was now being spread much better and strong running from centres, Fallows and Harry Siderfin was much more effective than in the first half. The wingers, Cameron Fraser and Henry Gordon were also getting a chance to stretch their legs, where previously most of their work had been in defence.
The Shetland defence remained solid though until Fallows burst though the centre and scored underneath the posts with only five minutes left to play. Esslemont then kicked the only conversion of the match to put Orkney two points ahead.
Both sides tried hard to win the game in the final few minutes, Magnus Merriman and Bruce Ritch tried to batter their way through, as the big Shetland pack seemed to tire. Flying hooker Liam Thomson was stopped short after one of his trademark lung bursting runs. It wasn’t one-way traffic however and Shetland were still posing a threat. Orkney’s back row forwards deserve special mention for their work rate in defence particularly. There was no further scoring though with Orkney narrowly winning 12-10.