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‘Do or die’ tie for Ross Sutherland in title race against Kinloss in Invergordon

By Andrew Henderson

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Ross Sutherland continued their strong start to the 2023/24 season with a 53-26 win over Inverness Craig Dunain. Picture: Peter Carson
Ross Sutherland continued their strong start to the 2023/24 season with a 53-26 win over Inverness Craig Dunain. Picture: Peter Carson

Ross Sutherland Rugby Club coach Murray Kennedy believes the team needs to act like they are already a Caledonia One outfit if they are to secure promotion this season.

The Stags’ place in the play-offs was confirmed last weekend as Highland 3rds lost out to Kinloss Eagles.

That result moved Kinloss level on points with Ross Sutherland at the top of the Caledonia North Two Highlands and Islands Conference, with the division title still in the balance.

With the two sides set to meet in Invergordon this weekend, then, it could prove to be a decisive weekend for the conference crown.

Even if they lose, Ross Sutherland will still have a chance at promotion in the post-season play-offs, but Kennedy is looking for his charges to play at 100 per cent to make it a successful end to the campaign.

“It’s all about progress as a group,” Kennedy explained.

“You set yourself mini-challenges as a team, and one of the main things we look at is trying to keep an immaculate home record.

“Kinloss are the only team that have beaten us this season, and we relish the competition, so we want to finish top because we’re competitive and it would be good for our club.

“If we can finish at the top of the league, it would be an achievement we’re proud of, and if we win this fixture it should stand us in good stead to do that. This is the one really, I would say that this is do or die for us.

“We’ve got the National Bowl, and we’ll be going away to Banff in a couple of weeks in that, but it adds more spice to the end of the season.

“We’re delighted with what the team has achieved so far – and the type of rugby they have played which has been reflected in the scores – but there are still ways we can go up a level.

“If we are to get promoted we have to start acting like a Caley One team now.

“That’s been my message to the players. It’s not going to hinge too much on this game, because we are in the play-offs already, but it’s a test to the players to see where they want to be and how far we can take them.”

Ross Sutherland will have close to a full-strength squad available to them at the Naval Grounds.

While recent inclement weather means this will be their first match of 2024, it has also helped clear up any niggling issues amongst the playing squad.

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