Sutherland praised for stepping up to the plate as Greens see off Carrick
Caithness head coach Ewen Boyd praised number 8 Evan Sutherland for leading the Greens to victory at Carrick.
The Millbank side travelled to face National League Three's basement team on Saturday knowing a win would be crucial in their battle to beat the drop.
And a bonus-point success was what they got as they ran in four tries to beat their hosts 24-11.
Despite a couple of late call-offs, Boyd was able to take a squad of 19 down to Ayrshire for a fixture that had been set to take place earlier this season.
Injuries back then ensured Caithness were unable to raise a team and had to pull out from the game – a decision that led to the SRU docking three points from them.
With that in mind, a bonus-point win worth five points was essential in regaining some of the ground lost by the ruling from the beaks at Murrayfield.
They got off to a slow start as Carrick kicked themselves into a 6-0 lead. However, the Greens soon shook off the rust from the long bus journey and clicked into gear.
Full-back Cameron Ryder danced his way over for their first try which he duly converted.
Despite playing in the unfamiliar role of fly-half, Kris Hamilton showed his capability to adapt as he left the Carrick defence trailing in his wake for try number two.
Ryder converted to give the Greens a 14-6 half-time lead.
Evan stepped up and showed exceptional leadership.
Caithness did not let Carrick off the hook following the interval and they pulled away towards the bonus-point win as scrum-half Stuart Kirk and lock forward Kevin Budge both crossed over.
Carrick bagged a try of their own late on but it was far too late to make any meaningful impact on the result.
A delighted Boyd said: "I thought Evan Sutherland's leadership on the pitch was exceptional.
"I thought the referee was inconsistent – for both sides, but when we were 6-0 down there were some decisions that went against us.
"Evan stepped up and showed exceptional leadership by getting the boys to focus more on the game itself than what the referee was doing.
"The boys then stepped up their performance and we were able to overtake Carrick and go on to get the bonus-point win.
"Everybody played well. Special mentions must go to Kris Hamilton and Kevin Budge who both played very well.
"While it is a good victory, with three teams going down I am conscious of the fact that [fellow relegation rivals] West of Scotland and Murrayfield Wanderers are still to play Carrick and Perthshire.
"We've a break before our next game at home against Greenock Wanderers [February 15] so that will be a good opportunity for the boys to rest up and recover."
In the only other National League Division Three match played last weekend, Greenock Wanderers kept up their promotion hopes with a 33-20 win at home against Hillhead/Jordanhill.