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'One pass too many' as Greens go out of National Shield

By Iain Grant

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Gordie Macleod scored the Greens' second try against Carnoustie. Here he is being stopped by in his tracks against Highland 2nd XV in January. Picture: James Gunn
Gordie Macleod scored the Greens' second try against Carnoustie. Here he is being stopped by in his tracks against Highland 2nd XV in January. Picture: James Gunn

The Greens' National Shield ambitions were snuffed out on Saturday when they were turned over by fellow Caley 1 outfit Carnoustie.

The visitors failed to capitalise on a punchy opening and ended up going down 31-12 in the third-round tie.

Cameron Boyd's troops did not have the best preparation with an early-morning start and a six-hour minibus trek to the south Angus coast. Despite this, they settled early and dominated play in the first quarter.

"We had a huge amount of pressure in the opening 20 minutes," Boyd said. "We could easily have scored three or four tries but we sometimes forced it, rather than just playing through the phases.

"As so often happens when a team is well on top but fails to score, it gives the other team a lift and they end up going in front.

"I think our heads went down a bit when we didn't manage to convert any of the pressure. By the time we had snapped out of that, the game was out of our reach."

Twenty points behind at the interval, the Greens never seriously threatened to get back in touch.

Number eight Cole Wilson pulled a try back with a typical storming run.

By the time of scrum-half Gordie Macleod's second with a close-range snipe, converted by Jamie Mowat, Carnoustie had put the game to bed.

The home side scored four tries, one conversion and three penalties.

Coach Boyd said: "It was very frustrating as they [Carnoustie] weren't that special.

"They were pretty abrasive and physical but if we had played as I know we can we would have won.

"We managed to regularly work the ball wide as we planned but too often we put in one pass too many. Our execution let us down at times."

Boyd was impressed with the display of Edinburgh student Liam Flavell at inside centre and Aberdeen-based replacement lock forward Jack Sibbald.

Lock Dave McIntosh was the visitors' man of the match while Macleod "gave absolutely everything".

Caithness inevitably looked ring-rusty, this being only their second game since Christmas.

"It was our first game in a month in what has been a stop-start campaign," Boyd said. "Just about every game has felt like it's our first of the season."

Caithness now return to the bread-and-butter business of trying to improve on their sixth placing in the eight-team North Conference of Caley 1.

On Saturday, they host conference winners Moray.

The Elgin side qualified for the last eight of the National Shield on Saturday after edging out Grangemouth Stags 24-23 away from home.

Boyd said: "Moray have already won the conference and qualified for the play-offs but they will be looking to win their last game and keep up the momentum they have built up.

"They have a strong side and it's a good test for us to get us back on track and try and impose the game we want to play."

Centre Dougie Webster is out through lambing commitments and brother Scott picked up a shoulder knock on Saturday which could sideline him.

Saturday's match at Millbank kicks off at 3pm.

Highland 2nd XV on Saturday made sure of finishing third in the North Conference with a 36-10 win in a double-header versus bottom dogs Aberdeen Wanderers.

Moray and runners-up Aberdeenshire have already qualified to vie for the National League 3 promotion spots along with Midlands qualifiers Panmure, Grangemouth and Carnoustie.

The third North Conference place has still to be decided.

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