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Rugby: Orkney ready for one of the club’s ‘biggest games in recent history’

The Pickaquoy side have won 10 games out of 10 in National Three ahead of Saturday's showdown with Preston Lodge.

Orkney Rugby first team. Image: Orkney Photographics.
Orkney Rugby first team. Image: Orkney Photographics.

Unbeaten Orkney are set for “one of the biggest games in the club’s recent history” when they take on Preston Lodge in a National Three top of the table clash on Saturday.

That is according to Alan Brown who is part of a coaching panel along with Scott Rendall, Chris Guthrie and William Thomson who have overseen things in recent months as the first team from Pickaquoy have won 10 league matches from 10 to date in the 2023-24 campaign.

Orkney currently have 46 league points from a possible 50 and sit second in the table behind East Lothian outfit Preston Lodge who have 49 points having played a match more.

The only defeat Preston Lodge have suffered so far this term came in September when they went down 28-24 to Orkney.

In that encoutner Orkney were 24-21 behind heading into the closing stages before they managed to score a team try from a lineout drive in the dying seconds and then Connor Hancock kicked the conversion from out on the left to give them the victory.

It is just one of a number of tight wins that Orkney have managed to secure of late and they will need all those battling qualities again if they are to win at the Pennypit in Prestonpans this coming weekend.

Orkney are enjoying a great season in National Three. Image: Orkney Photographics. 

With just one team being promoted from the 10-team league after 18 matches this meeting seem very significant and Brown said:  “The boys are all looking forward to it, it is one of the biggest games in the club’s recent history without a doubt.

“We know that it will be a tough game, you only have to look at the results Preston Lodge have had this season to recognise that, but we also have a bit of momentum ourselves and we want to take that into this match.

“Looking back to the home fixture against them in September, they were a strong outfit and it took one of our best performances of the season so far to get the better of them.

“We know that we will need to put in an even better performance to beat them on their own patch, but as I sat it is one of the biggest games for the club in quite some time, so the squad that goes down there will be giving it everything to get a result.”

Coaching panel working well

Brown cannot make the trip due to work commitments, but that is where a coaching panel model comes in handy and means that there are always some members of the quartet involved on any given matchday.

Rendall, Guthrie and Thomson still play for the team while Brown only stopped recently, so they are all on the same page.

“I think the coaching panel model has worked well,” Brown added.

“The players have really bought into what we are trying to do, we all bring different ideas to the table and we are really well supported by team manager Garry Coltherd.

“Everyone is pulling in the same direction and there is a great buzz about the club, so long may that continue.”

Skipper Liam Moar backs up Brown’s views about the great buzz about rugby in Orkney just now and said:  “I think what we have within the squad is a real team spirit.

“The group is made up of local boys and a number of us have played for quite a few years now and we all love playing for the club.

“Even when we haven’t been playing that well this season or have been under pressure we have managed to stay in games and then get over the line late on and that shows that we never give up and are playing for each other.

“We also know how much the club means to the local community. We get great backing at home games while there was a great following of supporters at Howe of Fife recently as that was our ‘president’s trip’ weekend.

“This next match against Preston Lodge will be a real test, especially on the road, but I know the squad are looking forward to the test.”

Like Brown, Moar’s work commitments mean that he will not be making the trip with Connor Hancock set to skipper the side.

Thankfully for Brown, Moar and the Orkney supporters who cannot make it to the much-anticipated game at 2.30pm on Saturday, the Rohallion Orkney YouTube feed run by George Brown is set to be streaming the action live.

“Not many clubs have their games streamed live and we are really grateful for all that it does to promote rugby in Orkney,” Moar concluded.

Biggar test for Dave Carson’s men

Highland are keen to get back to winning ways in National One tomorrow when they take on Biggar at Canal Park.

The Inverness outfit lost to Watsonians three weeks ago, then to GHA a fortnight ago before seeing last week’s trip to GHK postponed.

They are still second in the table, but are 21 points behind runaway leaders Ayr albeit with a game in hand.

As a result, they are focused for the home clash with ever-improving eighth placed Biggar and head coach Dave Carson said:  “The guys are in a good frame of mind and have been training well.

“We know Biggar are playing some good stuff now and have some key men back, so we’ll need to be at our best to win this one.”

Patrick Ratumaisese is back after six weeks out injured and is set to cover front-row from the bench.

In National Two, bottom side Aberdeen Grammar are away to title chasing Lasswade.

“The boys are looking forward to the last away trip for 2023 and a visit to Lasswade,” Grammar head coach Eric Strachan said.

“It was an evenly contested match at home (34-22 to Lasswade), so if we can be consistent throughout 80 minutes we can match them.”

Gordonians, in fifth, are away to eighth placed Stewart’s Melville.

Highland’s second team are third in Caledonia One’s North Conference and are due to be on the road to fourth place Ellon.

Garioch have two home games left to try and climb off the bottom of the women’s Premiership with the first one tomorrow against Cartha Queens Park.