Sin-bin a key moment as Greens fall at Strathmore
The first-half sin-binning of Kris Hamilton proved to be pivotal as Strathmore duly cashed in to hammer Caithness.
Strathmore won by a comfortable margin of 45-10 but the Forfar side did most of the damage to the Greens when scrum-half Hamilton was ordered off for 10 minutes.
A scoreline of 9-3 in favour of the home side quickly turned to 31-3 with the game out of sight.
Head coach Ewen Boyd had previously spoken of Caithness having to improve on their away form, but the chance to draw Strathmore into the relegation zone evaporated in that 10-minute spell. When the final whistle went, the Greens' woes were compounded with the news that fellow strugglers West of Scotland had pulled off a shock win at Greenock.
All of which makes the trip to Carrick on Saturday a crucial one – more so as this game was rearranged from last autumn when Caithness were docked points for not being able to raise a team to fulfil that fixture.
Carrick, who received a thumping last weekend at Howe of Fife, look all but down but Boyd has warned his troops that their hosts will still have their pride.
He said: "Carrick lost heavily last week but we know they are no mugs.
"They've got a young team and, while their league position is not good for them, they will have their pride and will not make it easy for us.
"I'm not saying that this is a must-win game for us, as a lot can still happen from now until the end of the season.
"But we must start picking up points on the road if we are to get out of the relegation area.
"Three sides go down. We are clear of the bottom two of Perthshire and Carrick and we need to start making inroads into the six-point gap between ourselves and Murrayfield Wanderers.
"The battle to stay up could go to the last game in Perth.
"Of the game at Strathmore, it was not a good day and Kris's sin-binning was a turning point.
"Strathmore were quick and they had some big ball-carriers. Our defence was just not up to scratch.
"There were some positives. Evan Sutherland played well, Jack Macleod got some turnovers and Calum Clark's move from second row to the front is paying off."
Elsewhere in National League Division Three, Berwick's lead at the top was cut to two points following their 16-13 defeat at Lasswade.
Ardrossan Academicals closed the gap as they won 12-5 at Murrayfield Wanderers.
Greenock's promotion chances took a dent as they were thumped 42-27 at home by West of Scotland, while Hillhead/Jordanhill thrashed Perthshire 50-8.
The Greens' opponents on Saturday, bottom-of-the-table Carrick, found themselves on the wrong end of a 83-0 drubbing from Howe of Fife.
Fixtures for Saturday
National League Division Three
Carrick v Caithness
Greenock Wanderers v Hillhead/Jordanhill