Northern Caledonian’s two most northerly teams, Highland and Caithness, suffered defeats on the road, giving their coaches much to think about in the coming week.
Highland’s good run in National League 1 came to a shuddering halt at Melrose, where it took the Inverness side deep into the second half before they scored a point in their 31-14 defeat at the Greenyards.
Head coach Dave Carson said: “Melrose played particularly well, but we made it easy for them in the first half when we kicked out of hand poorly and gave away a stream of penalties.”
Highland were three points down in three minutes after failing to release the ball in a ruck, but parity ruled for the rest of the half until just before the break when, after conceding five penalties, the home side plundered the Highland for a converted try.
At only 10-0 down going into the second half, the Inverness side were still in the game but were hit by two quick converted tries and not helped by a yellow card given to lock Tom Smith and a further converted try to trail 31-0.
Smith returned to the fray to partially compensate by scoring a fine try, which was converted by full-back Rupeni Rokoduguni, who then scored one of his own to which he added the extras to make the final score 31-14.
Newly-appointed Caithness head coach Ewan Boyd suffered a 44-5 defeat at West of Scotland in his first game in charge.
Boyd said: “There’s obviously work to be done but I saw enough to encourage me in the battle to avoid relegation. We were 27-0 down at half-time but put in a better effort in the second half, scoring a good try through Jack McLeod, while prop John Elder put in a huge 80-minute shift in the front row.”