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Greens ‘showed a lot of character’ in securing fourth victory

By Iain Grant

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Cameron Ryder kicks a conversion for Caithness against Moray earlier in the season. Picture: James Gunn
Cameron Ryder kicks a conversion for Caithness against Moray earlier in the season. Picture: James Gunn

The Greens came from behind against Ellon to secure their fourth victory of the extended Caley 1 season at a wind-blown Millbank.

Cameron Boyd’s side trailed until the last 10 minutes on Saturday when a converted Duncan MacMillan try and a Cameron Ryder penalty saw them prevail 32-27.

Caithness took to the field minus a handful of regulars for their first outing in more than a month.

The versatile Max Kennedy replaced the unavailable Dougie Webster at outside centre; Euan MacDonald returned from an extended injury absence to play on the wing; and Kris Hamilton made his latest comeback from retirement at full-back.

Kevin Brims moved from his usual berth in the engine room to take over at number eight from Cole Wilson, who was on leave.

Ellon had twice defaulted on the fixture so the home camp were delighted not to have been stood up again.

The early exchanges were very scrappy as both sides struggled to cope with the buffeting wind and intermittent showers.

Boyd was forced into an enforced early reshuffle when inside centre Charlie Quinn had to go off with a dead leg.

Scott Mackay came off the bench to play on the wing, Hamilton went to 13 and Drew Mathieson moved from wing to full-back.

The visitors were first to strike with Josh Andrew nailing an early penalty before breaking free to canter over for the opening try, which he converted.

Caithness responded with a concerted, multi-phase attack which took them to within striking range of the Ellon line. The defence repelled a couple of close-in surges but were unable to stop lock Kevin Budge’s muscular pick-and-drive.

Loose-head Douglas Sharp soon restored his side’s 10-point advantage with a similar close-range effort at the other end.

Back came Caithness with a series of powerful carries creating the opening for Kennedy to breeze in from the 22. That gave the north-east side a 15-10 interval advantage.

The evenly matched contest saw Seb Orus and Lachlan Jardine swap tries to give Ellon a 22-15 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Caithness replacement Mark Nicolson was quick to make an impact. The prop weighed in with his team’s fourth try of the day, converted by Ryder.

The momentum continued to swing one way and then the other with a second touchdown from the influential Andrew putting Ellon 27-22 ahead with 14 minutes remaining.

The latter stages were dominated by the home side and they soon took the lead for the first time when hooker Duncan MacMillan forced his way over for a try, improved by Ryder.

Ryder added a penalty near the end to leave the visitors needing a try to salvage a result.

It was not forthcoming as Boyd’s men savoured avenging the 57-8 rout they endured in Ellon in mid-September.

The coach said the game had been a real nerve-jangler.

“I’m sure it would have been really good to watch for a neutral,” he said. “It was very exciting but tough to watch as a coach.

“First and foremost, it was just great to have a game again at Millbank.

“The thing I found most pleasing was that we found a way to win. In the early part of the season, our heads would have gone down after we lost a couple of tries and we would have found a way to lose.

“I thought we showed a lot of character. I was very proud of them as they showed a lot of resilience in a stop/start game played in horrendous conditions.”

The Greens are due to finish what has been a drawn-out campaign at home to Aberdeen Wanderers on Saturday.

Ellon’s two losing match points on Saturday mean Caithness need a bonus-point win in their last match to overtake Ellon into fifth spot in the North Conference of Caley 1.

Boyd said: “It would be great if we could round off the season with 80 minutes playing the way we want to play.

“We got the rustiness out of the system on Saturday and I would love to see us get the result which would allow us to move above Ellon.”

The game at Millbank has a 3pm kick-off.

Moray can clinch their second successive promotion on Saturday if they defeat Dundee Seconds in their last match in the mini-league involving the top three from the North and Midlands conferences.

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