Glenrothes RFC 37, Orkney 27
Glens fought back from a 22-5 half time deficit to beat Orkney on Saturday, scoring five tries in the process and securing the crucial try bonus point.
Glens started badly in stark contrast to the visitors who were on the front foot from the kick off, looking sprightly and eager with ball in hand.
Glens were under the cosh in the early exchanges but their defence held firm restricting the Islanders to a penalty kick for a three point lead.
Glens briefly established a toe hold in the game with a Shaun Gray try opening up a 5-3 lead.
However, Glens were all over the place as Orkney launched a seemingly endless stream of attacks for which they were rewarded with three tries all of which were easily avoidable had Glens been in any way switched on.
At half time Orkney led 22-5 and brimming with confidence that they could build on this advantage and dish out another crushing of a league opponent.
That was until the real Glenrothes turned up.
Harsh words from coach Hainey seemed to have the desired effect when, shortly after starting the second period playing down the Carleton slope, captain Kenny Christie crossed the whitewash for the try.
Gray’s conversion put Glens within a couple of scores of Orkney but they suffered another set back when the reshuffled backline failed to settle in time to defend a counter attack from the visitors and a bonus point try for a 27-12 lead.
Glens reacted positively and persistent play from the forwards had Orkney on the back foot and conceding a series of penalties at the ruck. Cleverly, captain Christie opted to let Gray take the three points with the boot and once again move within two converted scores of the lead.
Orkney could not have expected the final quarter flourish from the home team but the Carleton faithful have learned to love Glens’ spectacular finales to matches that look like lost causes. And they were rewarded with three exhilarating tries from Willie Maxwell, Michael Delorey and Shaun Gray.
Two Gray conversions put Glens in front 34-27 ahead as the match entered stoppage time. There was still time for Orkney to steal a draw from the match but the Glens’ defence was by now totally uncompromising.
The final coup de grace was delivered by Gray with a penalty kick from distance on the final whistle. That kick made the final score 37-27 to Glens and denied the visitors a losing bonus point that may prove critical at the end of the season.
All of that meant that Glens had extended their winning start to the competitive season to five matches and would sit proudly at the top of Caledonia Division One. Early days for the Glens’ boys but, despite Orkney not being at full strength and playing away from home, this win was massively important to the Fifers.
Having just been promoted this season there were some who had doubts about the squad’s ability to carry that form into the higher division.
Five wins from five suggests that the Glens’ are finding their level again but there is a true sense of perspective among the players, coaches and supporters that will keep their feet on the ground.
Coach Tom Hainey said he was as delighted with the second half performance as he had been angry about how his team had played the first half.
“We had to make a number of enforced changes to the team this weekend and once again our young starting front row had to dig in for the full match duration,” he said.
“But we have good depth in the squad now and the player rotations are working well, albeit we were very poor in the first half.
“We have a reputation for playing the full 80 minutes with intensity and read that Orkney, despite hammering Morgan last weekend up there, only won the second half 12-10. So we knew if we dug in for the first hour we could get at them in the last quarter.
“That’s how it worked out so I have to be pleased with that.”
Man of the match was named as scrum half Michael Delorey.
Next week Glens are on the road again this time to Forfar where they will meet Strathmore, who enjoyed a big 50-25 home win over unpredictable Morgan. That will be another tough match for the Glens.
The development squad endured another torrid afternoon going down 54-5 to Fife Southern at Rosyth. Next week they entertain Stobswell at Carleton Park.