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Derby win could be vital spark for Greens

By Matt Leslie

A DERBY win tomorrow could spark life into the Greens’ season, according to former skipper Evan Sutherland.

Caithness’s start to their first-ever National League campaign has had a sticky beginning with two defeats in as many matches played.

Match number three brings up the one they were all looking forward to when they won promotion last season – Orkney.

The keenly anticipated derby, which goes back to 1967, is on the rugby calendar again with both sides already in urgent need of a win.

The Greens lost their first two outings to Newton Stewart (0-25) and Ardrossan (12-26), while Orkney have had similar troubles having been beaten by both West of Scotland (34-36) and Perthshire (19-34).

Orkney are ahead of Caithness in the table by way of two bonus points gained in the match against West, but Sutherland hopes the Greens can come away from Pickaquoy having swapped places with their rivals in the league. He said: “The fixture against Orkney has always been one of my favourite games to play in.

“It’s good to get this game back in the calendar as it’s been a while. The game I most remember took place at Millbank when they raced into a four-try lead and we bounced back to put 50 points on the board.

“The beauty of this derby is that it’s one of the rare occasions where we have a short journey for an away game.

“Normally we travel the length and breadth of the county to fulfil an away fixture so a nice trip across the sea from Scrabster will be good.

“We’ve had a tough start and, while we’re sure Orkney will give us a hard game, we see this one as winnable.”

Of the Greens’ stuttering beginning to the season, Sutherland insists that once they’re up to speed with their new surroundings the results will improve.

He added: “We’re realistic enough to know that we were not going to be winning every game as we did last year. There is a gap between the third tier of the National League and the Caledonia League but it’s a reasonable one – not massive at all. We have to bed ourselves in and adjust to the pace of games at this level – which is slightly quicker than the one we’ve just come from.

“Whereas in the Caledonia League there are some weaknesses with some of the teams, those weaknesses are not so obvious with the sides we’re facing now.

“However, morale is still very high among the players and we feel that results will soon go our way.”

Meanwhile, Orkney have been warned to be on their best behaviour tomorrow after receiving a disciplinary letter from the Scottish Rugby Union.

It emerged that the referee who officiated their home match against West was subjected to “abusive and inflammatory language”.

In an open letter on the club’s website, Orkney president Brian Lanni said: “Without referees we would not have the game of rugby played in Orkney.

“Whether or not you agree with their decisions there is no need for the use of unacceptable language directed at the referees. Can I remind you that we are a community and family club where women and children are in attendance at our games.

“The use of such language is totally unacceptable and a poor example to the youngsters who attend.

“The game of rugby is built on mutual respect, that is respect for your officials, respect for the opposition players, respect for your own players, respect for your coaches and finally respect for yourself in the way you should conduct yourself while participating in the game of rugby whether as player or spectator.”

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