1st XV - Report
Forward intensity secures win for Strathie!
Strathie continued their recent good form as they defeated a slightly understrength side from Caithness. The result was even more impressive when you consider that the blacks were well beaten in Thurso last month by the same squad.
Skipper Stuart Gray has bulked up in recent seasons and his belligerent ball carrying meant that there was plenty of front foot ball for the backs to exploit. The quality of this match was far higher than last weeks scrappy affair with the home side looking comfortable in possession. There was more patience and less anxiety in their attacks and the phases were put together with more pace and direction.
Caithness did take the lead with a long range penalty when the blacks were caught offside at a ruck. The response was swift and direct. Flanker Colin Bell swatted aside several tacklers as he thundered towards the line. Desperate defence held him out but the ball was transferreda long the line to Connor Blackmore who sprinted in for the score. Ross narrowly missed with the conversion but made amends with a penalty, conceded after another flowing Strathie move.
The home side then shot themselves in the foot as they gifted the opposition a converted try totally against the run of play and they should have been further behind but for a try saving tackle from Rory Ferguson.
A scything midfield break from centre Fraser McKay left the Caithness defence in tatters and he drew the last defender before releasing left wing Dave Smith for a simple finish. Moments later and Smith scored the try of the match from a set play move.
Stewart Ross drew two defenders before an inside pop put Smith into open prairie with just the full back to beat. Showing footwork that was more akin to a Blackpool Ballroom than the rugby field he left his opponent for dead as he hared under the sticks for a fabulously worked score. Ross added the extras to extend the lead to fifteen points at half time.
With the lineout starting to unravel the blacks struggled to maintain momentum with their attacks, though they did manage one more score in the second half. Once again it was a delicious pass from Ross that picked out Gray, who ran an angle Pythagoras would have been proud of as he crashed over two would be tacklers for a fitting reward for his efforts. Ross contrived to miss the extra two points but by now Strathie were out of sight.
The subs entered into the fray with Lee Alexander running around the paddock like a Tasmanian Devil on Red Bull as he strived to break into the starting fifteen. Caithness did score once more but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation score.
Coach Dave Brown will be happy to be in the hat for the next round but knows there are a few areas to work on with his fast learning squad.
Match Report by John Westwood