Highland Burst Into Form Against Caithness
Highland’s season burst into life on Saturday with some impressive rugby to see them clear 36-0 winners over Caithness
The game kicked off thirty minutes late due to a back injury to Caithness player Craig Jappy in the earlier 2nd XV’s match.
Highland’s squad was boosted by the return of Richard Sim at full-back, and Simon Stephen and James Taylor in the second row. And from the kick-off the home side’s intent was clear as they instantly took the game to Caithness. Epi Vukicea was put clear and touched down with five minutes gone and although Craig Irvine just missed the home side were 5-0 in the lead.
It was a very physical encounter and this Highland clearly won with some very determined defence that saw the visitors rarely break the line and seldom cross into the home twenty-two. With the pressure building on Caithness number eight Stuart MacDonald drove over from a line-out and it was 10-0. In encounters like this injuries are always a fear and it saw Highland lose Sim to a rib knock and Tam Magowan to a suspected broken wrist. With Ruaridh MacDonald and Matt Allan coming on the momentum was maintained.
Approaching the break Stephen Murray went on a powerful drive and quick release of the ball saw Steven Rutledge go over and Irvine converted for a 17-0 lead at the break. There was however a setback with skipper Kevin Brown going off as a precaution with a shoulder injury.
In the second-half Highland maintained the rock solid defence and simply denied Caithness any chance to score. The back row led by MacDonald were simply everywhere recovering and securing ball. The next score came from James Taylor and with Irvine now finding the range the seven points made it 24-0. The strength of the home play saw plenty of attacking opportunities and this next had Ruairdh MacDonald fly over the line for a try again converted by Irvine and it was 31-0.
There was just no stopping the home side and with no further injuries the game ended with David Titterington going over in the corner and with Irvine just missing the difficult conversion it was 36-0. Coach Dave Carson was very pleased with the nature of the win and a bonus win point yet he knows it is tinged with more injuries. Magowan may well be out for the rest of the season after a Sunday operation on his wrist while Sim’s rib injury will have to wait assessment as will skipper Brown’s shoulder. The result pushes Highland into a clear fourth place position in the league.