1st XV - Report
It's A Win - Improvement Needed
Highland had a vital 27-7 bonus point win over Orkney at Canal Park on Saturday, but it’s quite likely that both sides have gone home with a lot to think about.
The home side started with the wind in their favour and certainly made use of it to pin the visitors back, although Orkney looked very composed and able to retain ball. One long kick by stand-off Tam Magowan bounced awkwardly wide of the Orkney full-back and although he managed to collect the ball he was closed down quickly. He lost the ball in the tackle and it was popped to Dave Titteringham who went in for a try, the conversion missed by Richard Sim.
This was very much the pattern of play with Highland turning Orkney with long kicks while the islanders would claw their way back into the home half with some determined forward play. Yet it was clear if the Greens could be more cohesive they would easily overpower the visitors. It was from another push by Orkney that Highland collected the ball and with some fine inter-passing between the backs they saw Senikirivu Gasaicalawal clear to score between the posts and an easy conversion by Sim for a 12-0 lead.
Despite the lead it was clear Highland were becoming frustrated by their own inability to frame a consistent game and it was during another push into the visitors twenty-two that Highland could have lost the match. The promising move looked to provide another try when play was called back by the referee and Stephen Murray showed a red card. A moment of madness and Highland were down to fourteen men with sixty minutes to play.
Orkney immediately looked to press the advantage, but couldn’t break through. The lack of a man seemed to galvanise Highland slightly and their defence held off the islanders and from one counter they saw Sim pick-up a loose ball and his pace took him clear of the Orkney cover to touch down in the corner for 17-0. The momentum had swung back to the home side and just before the half-time whistle they missed out on an easy try when Setarkei Raoboa burst through and decided to take on the last man despite a three man overlap – the opportunity was lost.
The second-half was less inspiring with Orkney not using the wind advantage to overcome fourteen man Highland who in turn just managed to defend well enough, offering little in attack. There was a flicker of what should have been after the restart when the backs again put together some fine passing and support play to put Keiran Watson into the corner for an unconverted try and 22-0. It must have hurt Orkney with so much apparently in their favour yet they stuck to their task.
The half dragged on with a tiring Highland just holding off Orkney who continually mis-fired. Highland already had the bonus point, but still had the ability to counter through the backs and it was just such a move that the backs struck back into the opposition half. They cracked the Orkney cover with a deft pass catching Richard Sim already moving at full speed and he touched down near the posts, although the tricky wind prevented a conversion.
Highland were clearly tiring at this point and although they held back the visitors it was near the end of the game that Orkney got the long sought after breakthrough for a well deserved converted try and a final score-line of 27-7 to Highland.
This win should have been a lot easier for Highland and perhaps with a very big winning margin. As well as the lack lustre team play to address Coach Craig Little will want to crack down on discipline as the red card will not only lose a team member for a long period, it will mean a crisis in the front row for both the Greens and Reds. Highland will have to make a big improvement for the games against serious title contenders.