Season shines bright for Yellows despite defeat ending title hopes
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As Caithness Seconds prepare for their final game of the season, they can reflect that they have been victims of their own success.
Saturday's 26-0 defeat away to Dyce buried their chances of topping Caley North 4.
But in the greater scheme of things, the campaign has been packed with positives.
This is the first time since the early 1990s that the club has fielded a second string in the league set-up.
Coach Cameron Boyd has managed to assemble a mix of up-and-coming youngsters and gnarled veterans that have presented a formidable fighting force.
Crucially, their hard work on the field and on the training paddock has seen a clutch being promoted to the first team.
"Quite a lot of guys who started in the Seconds have ended up filling in gaps for the Ones," he said.
"On one side, it is frustrating when you're going down the road challenging for the title without these boys.
"But at the same time, I'm delighted to see them get the chance to step up."
Wins for the Yellows against Dyce and against Deeside on Saturday would have seen them champions.
They travelled to Aberdeen with 17 after two late call-offs.
Dyce, who won in Thurso, need a single point in their last match versus Highland to clinch the title.
The city side had an early setback against the Yellows when their fly half Danny Macgregor was sin-binned for a high tackle on Caithness full back Jack Floyd.
Boyd said: "We put them under a lot of pressure in the first quarter.
"We kept them in their 22 for long spells but we just couldn't get over their line."
Midway through the half, Dyce's hard-running centre Duncan Scott scored the first of his three tries.
As Dyce kept the upper hand, winger Jack Lambley crossed, with Scott's two conversions giving his side a 14-0 interval advantage.
Scott was over the whitewash again midway through the half and his third, which he goaled four minutes from time, completed the scoring.
Boyd said: "They are a very good side who play to their strengths.
"Our guys battled to the end and I'd say we were unlucky not to come away with at least a couple of tries."
He praised the wholehearted foraging of locks Dave Mackintosh and Calum Macdonald and prop, exile Tommy Sutherland, as well as the game management of fly half Jamie Mowat.
With the 1sts away, injures and the lambing season ruling out several of the farming fraternity, Boyd is struggling to get a competitive squad to travel to Deeside for the final match.