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Ross Sutherland win North Bowl to go one step away from Murrayfield

By Andrew Henderson

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Ross Sutherland lifted the 2024 Caledonia North Bowl. Picture: Peter Carson
Ross Sutherland lifted the 2024 Caledonia North Bowl. Picture: Peter Carson

Ross Sutherland are one win away from Murrayfield after lifting the Caledonia North Bowl last weekend.

With home advantage in Invergordon, the Stags saw off Kinloss Eagles 34-25 to get their hands on silverware for the first time since 2018.

The tries came from Henry Pearce (2), John Mann, Kieran Fitzpatrick, Andy Johnstone and Andy Mair, with Mann kicking two conversions.

It sets Ross Sutherland up for a run into the National Bowl, where the final will be held at Murrayfield.

With one regional final still to be played this weekend, the Naval Grounds outfit will have to wait a little longer to find out who stands in their way, but for the time being they can revel in their accomplishment in the Caley North region.

“It will be six years since we last won something, so there were a tough couple of years in there,” Mann said.

“It’s amazing that there are only four players from that squad still playing, but for a lot of boys it was their first time winning a regional trophy in rugby.

“I’m massively proud of them for that.

“There are a load of really good people in the club, and this is what we’re all aiming for.

“Amateur rugby is about these golden nuggets of opportunities to go and play in national competitions, and go and play on a national pitch.

“When we did it six years ago, there were a lot of more mature players in their prime, but now we have a lot of boys who are 20 or 21, or even younger.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to keep having some fun and learning.”

Mann was one of the few who was part of the Stags squad in 2018, and that crop of players went all the way to Murrayfield where they also won the National Bowl.

A return to Scotland’s national rugby stadium is now within reach, and the significance of such a moment is not lost on Mann.

“These boys are chomping at the bit to get into it, which is great,” Mann reasoned.

“You can count on one team who has played in a national stadium – for a lot of people it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Fingers crossed I’ll get to do it twice, and it’s just about trying to capture that excitement to keep people engaged and grow the profile of rugby in this area.

“It has to be a carrot. Everyone knows what the end goal is, so now it’s about having that bit of accountability and pressure that will help people do those extras.

“A lot of success comes down to luck and timing.

“Probably the most important thing for us at the moment is that it’s a good place to be.

“There’s a lot of laughs and enjoyment, and a lot of guys spend time together away from rugby as well, which gives you that cohesion.

“At the end of the day, this is amateur rugby. We’ve all got other things going on, so the more cohesion and community you have goes a long way at this level.

“We’re all there to have a bit of fun – and if you win at the same time, even better.”

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