Sutherland sets new club record as Greens run in seven tries against Grangemouth
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The Greens got their North Caley Division 1 season back on track on Saturday with an emphatic victory over hitherto unbeaten Grangemouth Stags.
A souped-up second-half display saw them run in seven tries against flagging opponents who had earlier flattered to deceive.
The 39-0 triumph puts the Greens among a clutch of five teams separated by two points chasing leaders Orkney.
Scrum-half Kris Hamilton, returning after injury, and winger Euan Macdonald each ran in a hat-trick of touchdowns. But they were eclipsed in the scoring stakes by number eight Evan Sutherland whose try set a new club record.
The previous tally of 169 was held by his father David, who was on hand to congratulate his son after the final whistle.
Caithness, looking to hit back after two narrow losses on the road, got early success when Hamilton found a gap in the visitors' goal-line defence to scuttle over after three minutes.
Scott Webster went close with a long-range kick-and-chase, while the home skipper was also prominent with a try-saving tackle to foil pacy winger Stuart Allan at the other end.
Grangemouth were on top in the closing minutes of the half when fly-half Graham Gemmel twice turned down eminently kickable penalties in a fruitless pursuit of five-pointers.
The Greens' hard-working defence held out in what head coach Ewen Boyd reckoned was a turning point.
"They were 5-0 down and two or three times they went for touch," he said. "They had a big, heavy pack and fancied their chances but it didn't work out for them."
The Greens survived Hamilton's sin-binning for a ruck offence to turn round with their slender lead intact.
The home side cut loose after the break as they regularly got in behind enemy lines with some powerful carries and quicksilver passing sequences.
Dougie Webster was held up over the line before Hamilton burrowed over for his second after 50 minutes.
Within a minute, the second of two slick offloads saw left winger Stuart Crichton release Sutherland to gallop over under the posts for his landmark try. His first had come in his debut season 21 years ago.
Hamilton then ran in from the halfway line before the scrum-half exploited a short-handed blindside defence to send Macdonald over near the right corner flag.
Dougie Webster and Grant Anderson proved the key links as Macdonald was sent free for his second.
The youngster capped a memorable afternoon when he cashed on sloppy defence to grab a stray pass to romp in unopposed.
Scott Webster added two conversions, with the visitors playing out the coo's tail of the game without Allan, who was sent to the naughty step for a high tackle on Dougie Webster.
Boyd reckoned his squad's dominant defence was the foundation of a pleasing performance.
"We defended extremely well and we have not conceded any tries in our first two home games," he said. "We want it to be part of our DNA to make it as hard as possible for opponents to score at Millbank."
He was happy with an improved lineout, though the lighter home scrum was regularly put under the cosh.
Boyd added: "Our kicking from hand was a lot better, as was our chase. As we got into the game our confidence grew and, when we kept the ball in hand, we caused them some damage. They tired and the tries we ran in at the end were the icing on the cake."
Boyd singled out openside Jack Sibbald for his high tackle count and his coverage of the park.
He also praised the displays off the bench of teenagers Sinclair Bremner and Max Kennedy.
The coach claimed to be in the dark about the touchline ban imposed on him early in the second period.
Asked about ref James Fraser's ruling, he said: "I still don't know. I don't know what the issue was."
On Saturday, Caithness will travel for their first match-up with Blairgowrie, who are searching for their first win of the season.
Second row Kevin Brims is unavailable and Hamish Coghill and Reece Coghill are doubts.
Marc Anderson could recover earlier than expected from a hamstring pull to reclaim the No 10 shirt.
Caithness Seconds on Saturday host Deeside in Caley North Regional League 4. The game at Millbank has a 3pm kick-off.