Greens are 'making strides' ahead of home clash with fellow strugglers
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With the Greens being on the wrong end of a 46-10 scoreline on Saturday in their fourth straight away defeat, all by similar margins, supporters could plausibly infer that nothing much has changed.
But acting coach Cameron Boyd saw enough versus Aberdeenshire to convince him that they can soon turn around their fortunes.
The club is focused on retaining its place in Caledonia Region Division 1 and Saturday's home match with fellow strugglers Aberdeen Wanderers is pivotal to their respective hopes of survival.
Caithness were very much in the contest after a competitive first half at Woodside which Shire led 17-10. But a familiar failure in their defensive lines saw them leak five unopposed tries after the interval.
Coach Boyd said: "We played to our strengths and really imposed ourselves in the first 15 to 20 minutes. We had a good structure and were able to play the way we wanted to.
"I really thought we were going to get a good result. In attack, we threatened a lot and I think the backs felt a lot more involved in the game.
"They [Shire] have a big, beefy pack and their maul was a big weapon. They got quite a few penalties from it which allowed them to get good field position."
Boyd was pleased that by the end of the game the Greens had worked out ways to legally combat the opposition maul, albeit after the damage had been done on the scoreboard.
Unconverted tries from Marc Anderson – on his return to the squad – and Dougie Webster had kept Caithness in touch at the turnaround.
Flanker Kenny Penman, hooker Thomas Dugdale and stand-off Johnny Gray each weighed in with two tries for Shire. Others came from number eight Jason Burton and replacement Freddy Ho.
Centre Mikey Mair and replacement scrum-half Paul Harrow (2) added conversions.
Boyd pointed out that while a few seasoned campaigners had returned to the squad they continue to have a high quota of inexperienced players.
"The four guys on our bench have a grand total of about 10 caps between them," he said.
The Greens had Thurso exile Jordan Miller, formerly of the Southern Knights and Boroughmuir Bears, in the centre.
Boyd was pleased with the contribution of the soldier and also picked out young winger Drew Mathieson and number eight Cole Wilson for their contributions.
"Cole was our man of the match," Boyd said. "He's such a good carrier – he makes about 10 metres just about every time he touches the ball."
The coach added: "When you look at the score, it's not great, but we've definitely made strides and it is a performance we can build from."
Boyd will again be in charge on Saturday, which will be the Greens' first home game of the season after two postponements.
He said: "We will definitely not be underestimating them but we should have a strong squad and I just want them to go out and show what they are capable of."
Miller, who is based with the Army in York, is available for the match and the pack will be strengthened by the return of Calum Hill and Kevin Budge.
Back-three player Cameron Ryder should also be fit to make his season's debut.
Boyd said: "With the Seconds not playing on Saturday, there are going to be a few guys disappointed not to be involved as there is a good bit of competition for places in some areas."
Saturday (kick-off 3pm) is the first of a run of four scheduled home matches for the Greens.
The match at Woodside was the only one in the north conference of Caley 1 to go ahead.