Mackie FPRFC welcomed Caithness RFC to a very cold and windy Redcloak for what was another crucial game in their fight to escape relegation.
With a great turnout from the home support and an adrenaline-pumping pre-match talk from captain fantastic Craig Thompson, the boys in red were keen to get the game under way.
However, the Mackie lads let Caithness into their half, and within the first 15 minutes, they took advantage and kicked two penalties.
Vice-captain R Mellis was not worried and, after some great phases, Mackie were given a penalty.
Quickly taken, he danced his way through the strong defence for the first try of the day.
Mackie’s very own George Clooney (Michael Levack) stepped up to add the extra points.
Now on the front foot, Mackie’s pack put together some great phases of rugby before ‘Tongan Torpedo’ Steve Akauola flew over the line, veteran Levack once again stepped up and – from what seemed an impossible kick – managed to convert. Caithness came back at the home side with great ambition but to no avail.
After a cold chat from coach Colin Mair, the home side began the second half with the same fight they showed in the first.
Tucking the ball up their jumpers, the Mackie pack made way into the Caithness half and set up camp on the try line.
With no intentions of going anywhere but forward, it was Jason Matehe who stepped up and smashed through the defensive wall to add another five to the score board. With Levack’s fatigue showing, he was unsuccessful in reaching the uprights.
Caithness replied with impressive form, a missed tackle from the reds seeing visiting 13 go over for a try. Successfully converted, the score stood at 19-13.
After some strong words from the captain, the heads were back in the game. Andrew Mitchell dived for the line. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the try line and he was penalised for holding on.
Keeping the momentum going, the hard-working Mackie lads mauled their way back up into the Caithness 22. Number Eight Ewan Johnstone broke free and outsmarted the Caithness defence to secure his first try of the day.
Levack, with a second wind, sailed the ball through the uprights bringing the score to 26-13 for Mackie.
The home side were not finished yet and looked to take advantage of the tiring visitors.
Back three R. Gray, C. Gray & D. Ross stopped any attempts from the Caithness high ball and worked tirelessly to bring the game back to the opposition.
Lovely footwork from R. Atkins saw him beat his opposite man and give an inside pass to C. Thompson who was stopped on the five by the impressive Caithness number seven.
After a couple of short phases from the forward pack, E. Johnstone and S. Akauola showed their talent and together burst through the Caithness defence for Johnstone to gain his second try of the day and bring the score to 31-13.
Caithness now on the attack saw S. Akauola intercept a pass within his own 22 and dash towards the Caithness try line.
The crowd went bananas but, unfortunately, everybody but Steve heard the ref blow his whistle for offside and he soon made the stride of pride back to his own half.
The ref blew the final whistle shortly afterwards, the crowd and players cheered and even scrum half Rory Mellis briefly cracked a smile after a great win against a strong Caithness team.
Next week, Mackie are away to St Andrews University and look to secure a win to keep them safe in Caledonia League One.
Man of the match – number 10 Anaru Atkins.