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Greens see their Caley 1 title bid founder in the mud at Millbank


By Iain Grant

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Grant Anderson is tackled as the muddy conditions make it difficult to distinguish one team from the other. Picture: James Gunn
Grant Anderson is tackled as the muddy conditions make it difficult to distinguish one team from the other. Picture: James Gunn

The Greens' Caley 1 title challenge foundered in the Millbank mire on Saturday as they went down 25-3 to Orkney.

The islanders' bonus-point win shortened their already odds-on chances of finishing top of the pile as they became one of the very few visiting teams to have kept their try-line unbreached.

Trailing 5-3 at the interval, the Greens' promising opening after the turnaround came to nothing and they found themselves corralled deep in their own territory in the final quarter when they conceded three tries without reply.

An already mushy surface was further softened up by a deluge which began during the warm-up and only abated towards the end of the first half.

The Greens were the first to have the advantage of the snell wind which blew towards the squash court corner.

A Grant Anderson steal at a lineout and Reece Coghill's productive harrying which forced two handling errors were encouraging signs.

But a retreating scrum that coughed up possession and a rampaging, yard-guzzling carry from Orkney number eight Darren McLean were more telling portents of what was to come.

Kevin Brims wins a lineout for Caithness during their Caley 1 defeat to Orkney at Millbank on Saturday. Picture: James Gunn
Kevin Brims wins a lineout for Caithness during their Caley 1 defeat to Orkney at Millbank on Saturday. Picture: James Gunn

The visitors were the first to show a willingness to work the ball wide and they opened their account on 15 minutes when hooker Scott Rendall exchanged passes with scrum-half Willie Thomson before plunging over near the left corner flag.

Caithness responded soon after with a Cameron Ryder three-pointer after Orkney backs strayed offside.

The main Caithness attacking weapon came from the spiralling punts from stand-off Scott Webster, which the visitors generally defused without incident.

The one line break they achieved all game came nine minutes from the interval when an electric midfield incursion by Stuart Crichton looked set to pay dividends. He linked with his support but good scramble defence and Caithness indiscipline saw a likely try converted into the concession of a penalty.

What was increasingly turning into a mud-wrestle saw Orkney increase their lead with the first action of the second half with a penalty kicked by fly-half Connor Hancock.

This triggered a purple patch from the hosts with a bulldozing Michael Gunn igniting a sequence which saw left winger Gordie Macleod bundled into touch near the line.

A sustained spell of pressure saw Webster kick for the corner and the subsequent driving maul illegally hauled down a couple of metres from the whitewash.

Charlie Quinn thinks a try has been scored for Caithness but the referee did not award it. Picture: James Gunn
Charlie Quinn thinks a try has been scored for Caithness but the referee did not award it. Picture: James Gunn

This prompted a mass brawl before Caithness butchered another golden try-scoring opportunity when an overthrow at the follow-up lineout allowed Orkney to benefit from a ricochet and clear their lines.

That proved a pivotal moment as the Greens were to spend more or less the remainder of the game embedded in their own half as Orkney exerted a stranglehold on possession and went for the jugular.

Heroic goal-line defence from Caithness eventually took its toll as a quick tap-and-go saw Rendall over for the skipper's second try of the afternoon on 61 minutes.

Home duo Euan MacDonald and Ewen Scott were injury retirals as Orkney continued to turn the screw and five minutes from time flanker Don Tualasea crossed after another intense spell of pressure.

Hancock converted before prop Daniel Adams strong-armed his way over for the bonus-point try a couple of minutes from time.

A late defiant flourish by Caithness saw a promising multi-phase attack repelled by opponents whose double over their far north rivals takes them a step closer in their pursuit of the title and a return to national league rugby.


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