This was a game where the visitors dominated the first quarter, racing into a 13 point lead. Then Orkney recovered to put 25 unanswered points against the Hills by the 65th minute of the game. But showing some amazing resilience and levels of fitness, Hills clawed their way back into the contest, and, just on the stroke of full time, converted a close range try to run out winners by 30 pts to 25. Their 4th try allowed the visitors to return home with 5 league points, 4 for the win and 1 for the try bonus.

The playing conditions, sun, blue sky and windless, were as good as you will experience in the Northern Isles and they certainly suited Hills. The early passages were all about the visitors playing their fast running open game with strong ball carrying from Billy Mullin and Giacomo Sanders testing the home defence. Orkney conceded penalties under the onslaught and stand off and captain, Rory Harte, obliged with two well struck goals from the kicking tee. Scrum half, Fraser Ebbitt ( 2 T’s ) ghosted away up the blindside from a scrum, some 35 metres out and made excellent progress. His break was halted just short of the Orkney try llne but veteran centre Scott Halliday supported well on the outside to take the offload to touch down. Rory Harte converted from the far right touchline and Hills were 13 points to the good.

This stung Orkney into a ferocious response and their forwards, particularly their back row, began to assert their authority in all the open field play with a fine array of offloads. The physicality of the exchanges was such that the first half had to be extended by some 9 minutes due to stoppages for head knocks. Other disruptions included yellow card offences, both sides losing a player to the bin. By the time the half was concluded, Orkney had taken a narrow lead 15-13, having scored 2 tries through their marauding forward play, one of which was converted and a penalty goal.

The 3rd quarter of the game saw Orkney again in the ascendancy except in the line out where Jonny Agnew ruled the middle areas. Orkney added to their halftime lead with a try and a penalty goal to be 2 scores ahead with less than 20 minutes to go. But it had been a costly period of dominance with the home team having to go to their bench more than they would have expected. Yellow cards again played a part with players once again from both sides being given a 10 minute respite in the technical areas.

Field indiscipline, particularly in the form of back chat to the referee, was a constant feature of the game which paradoxically proved the catalyst for Hills victory. A massive kick from a back chat penalty allowed the visitors to camp in the home 22 and after a series of close range drives, Scott Halliday crossed for his second try. This score invigorated the Hills and their bench players joined the proceedings with their fresh legs allowing Matthew Henderson to score a fine backs try following an arcing run. The momentum was now with the Hills, and Orkney set up their own version of a Churchill Barrier on their goal line. But their wall was finally breached when replacement hooker, Ewen Shearer, burrowed over from close range. Rory Harte converted and the joy of the visitors was unconfined when the match referee blew Immediately for full time.

An outstanding away win for the Hills in a well contested match, full of endeavour and physicality, from all who took the field.

Hills play next on Saturday November 12 with a 14.00 KO at Hughenden when their visitors are Perthshire RFC.

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