Weather beaten Mackie
Close Call in Orkney
Mackie hit the long road north to Kirkwall on Saturday morning to take up a rivalry going back over many years.
Landing at Kirkwall airport in 80 mph winds and driving rain did not auger well for the rest of the day.
The match kicked off in quite atrocious conditions and Mackie captain Thompson elected to play in to the conditions in the first half. The game became entrenched in one section of the pitch and Mackie defended resolutely from their goal line up to their 22 metre line. To be honest the game was notable for the effect the wind had on play as kicks to touch came back over the kickers head for example!
Orkney dominated play and threw themselves on the Mackie line where the defence stood resolute and time after time knocked the opposition back. Some of the hits that went in knocked the ball from the grasp of the carrier. Eventually Orkney cracked the code and went in for an unconverted try.
Mackie weathered the storm and for the last 10 minutes of the half used their ball carriers to good effect to work their way up the pitch. At half time, Atkins made the comment that the weather in our favour would not win us the game, we would have to do that. And so a rerun of the first half ensued with Mackie pressing and Orkney defending. To be fair, Mackie failed to apply the same consistent pressure that Orkney had done in the first half. The game took a turn for the worse when Mackie failed to find touch with a penalty and the home side were awarded a scrum in Mackies half. From there Orkney slowly worked their way up the pitch and scored another unconverted try. 10 – 0
Undaunted Mackie roared back and threw themselves at Orkney with renewed vigour. The front men with Clyne in the vanguard consistently punched holes in the defence but the weather created havoc and made handling and ball retention almost impossible. The referee was missing quite a lot but fortunately objective advice was always on hand. With 20 minutes gone another Orkney infringement was picked up and a penalty awarded. What looked an easy kick in normal circumstances was converted with aplomb by Levack to take the score to 10 – 3.
Danimal Carey, Saduko Sadio and Clyne punched their way forward and the ball was taken on by TT Alaoula who was thoroughly enjoying the weather conditions. The rest of the forwards swept aside the opposition and hooker Mitchell dived over the line. So with 3 minutes to go Levack had a kick to draw the match. Alas, given the conditions, it was not to be. The final whistle went and there was some vicarious pride in the reaction of the Orkney players to their win. Although it was a loss, the standard of play from both sides was exceptional and Mackie should take great pride in their performance. It would be wrong to pick out individuals on a day such as this because every single one of the players put in a huge effort. Although it was pretty much “10 man” rugby, the backs did their bit and Simon Morgan especially created three excellent turnovers and looked threatening when on the ball. Zorro Mellis at scrum half drove the pack relentlessly and Kieran Ferguson making his debut in the senior team put his body on the line both during and after the game. Looking at him the next day you could tell he was suffering from his efforts.
In the bar afterwards both sides reflected on a game played in exceptional circumstances. Over a quite pint and a game of drafts, the evening whiled away and then it was off to bed in the local hostelry. Some suffered from a lack of sleep and not being used to sleeping in a strange bed but the flight home was punctuated by the snoring of many tired bodies!
Team D Ross, D Garden, S Morgan, M Levack, K Ferguson, A Atkins, Z Mellis, R Clyne, A Mitchell, D Carey, S Lawson, S Byres, C Thomson, M Kelly S Akaoula, J Robertson, J Sadio