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Feelgood factor as Greens end run of defeats

By Iain Grant

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Scott Webster scored a couple of tries for the Greens. Picture: James Gunn
Scott Webster scored a couple of tries for the Greens. Picture: James Gunn

The Greens got their season up and running in style when they put Mackie to the sword at Millbank.

Their 54-21 victory on Saturday was forged on the back of a dominant pack that outgunned their counterparts in all areas.

They provided the go-forward platform for the back division who also impressed with some sprightly individual breaks and set moves.

The performance was the perfect antidote to what has been a turbulent opening to their Caledonia Region Division 1 north conference campaign.

Off the park, they parted company with their coach Kenny Russell and on it they slumped to four successive heavy losses, all on the road.

Their first outing at Millbank coincided with the start of Cameron Boyd's role as Russell's successor.

He was more than happy as he watched his men earn a bonus point and plaudits for their eight-try display.

The early omens were promising as the forwards and backs enjoyed some incisive interchanges and under-pressure Mackie conceded a succession of penalties.

Potential points off the tee were passed up in favour of kicks to the corner.

The first lineout drive was stopped illegally but the second, on six minutes, built up a head of steam which saw Hamish Coghill driven over.

Four minutes later, home scrum-half Euan MacDonald pounced on a botched catch by Mackie fly-half Ross Gray on his own 22.

MacDonald hacked through and gleefully grounded the ball near the posts.

Cameron Ryder's second conversion had his side 14-0 to the good.

The Stonehaven side then gave a glimpse of the pace and guile they had in their back division.

A fine tackle from Scott Webster was needed to prevent centre Alec Sweeney finishing off a midfield break.

Mackie reduced the deficit on 27 minutes when they capitalised on a poor clearance kick to work the ball wide to allow left winger Kieran Dyer to dive over near the corner flag. Gray added the extras.

The Greens were then indebted to their hard-working number eight Cole Wilson for a last-man tackle which denied visiting scrum-half Andrew MacArthur.

A minute from the turnaround, Wilson featured at the other end when his powerful break was carried on by MacDonald who committed full-back Kyle Venters before releasing Dougie Webster on a free run to the line. Ryder converted.

Just as the Greens were savouring their turn in fortunes, they were hit by a sucker punch.

A fly hack into space was collected by right winger Tanush Vyas who put Sweeney through.

Gray's conversion reduced the interval leeway to 21-14.

Boyd's men cashed in on a yellow card shown to a Mackie replacement shortly after the break, scoring 12 points during his absence.

Another surging drive from a lineout had prop Michael Gunn over for his first try for the club before Scott Webster picked the perfect line to take an inside pass from his brother Dougie to romp over.

Ryder hit a post with the first in what proved the only miss in his eight attempts.

In between the two tries, Mackie had added to their tally when a fine break by Venters was finished off by Dyer and converted by Gray.

The Greens capitalised on the upper hand they had in the rest of the game with three more tries.

Man of the match Wilson's carry and offload to Scott Webster saw the full-back go in for his second touchdown.

The latter then returned the favour as he did the legwork before sending Wilson over.

Six minutes from time, a flowing move released MacDonald who galloped over for his second of the day.

The game ended on a slightly sour note for the home team when MacDonald and Gunn were both yellow-carded after the ref had given a team warning about their mounting high tackle count.

Euan MacDonald got two of the tries against Mackie at Millbank. Picture: James Gunn
Euan MacDonald got two of the tries against Mackie at Millbank. Picture: James Gunn

Coach Boyd was happy with the display and the feelgood factor in the camp after stemming the run of six defeats in friendlies and league matches.

"I was very pleased by our overall display and there was a really good atmosphere at Millbank – it's the best there's been for a good while," he said.

"At the same time, we cannot get carried away as there's still a lot to improve upon."

He planned having a post-mortem on the three tries they conceded, two of which he classed in the avoidable category.

Boyd said: "Defence is going to be the cornerstone of what we do. There were some signs that it's improving, and I loved our defensive sets early on when they were camped on our line and came away with nothing."

He was generally happy with the attacking threat his side posed and was delighted to have the experience of the Webster brothers back in the back division.

Boyd had also special praise for Wilson's contribution in attack and defence and for Ryder's kicking.

The Greens are back on the road on Saturday and the coach expects to have much the same squad when they visit RAF Lossiemouth.

Caithness Seconds are due to face Craig Dunain in Inverness in the Highlands and Islands conference of Caledonia North Division 2.

Aberdeenshire stayed top of the north conference of Caley 1 when they got squeezed home 34-33 at home to Highland Seconds.

Moray maintained their pursuit with a 48-27 home win over RAF Lossiemouth.

Caithness Evergreens are in action on Saturday when they take part in a friendly tournament at Aberdeenshire's ground at Woodside. They will have matches against Orkney, Aberdeenshire and Wanderers.

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