Apr 10 2009 by Clair Fullarton, Kilmarnock Standard
KILMARNOCK travelled the long and winding road to Thurso on Saturday and returned with a fine away win.
With Caithness sitting one place below Kilmarnock in the league, a tight game was expected, but the longer the match went on, the less chance there was of that actually materialising.
Kilmarnock opened brightly with the majority of possession but it took them 19 minutes to break down a stuffy Caithness defence.
The opening try came after a good break by Gareth Rowlands, who passed to the supporting Stuart Pratt. He drew his man, leaving Ally McWhirter the easiest of tasks to touch down under the posts and duly convert his own score.
Although Kilmarnock pressed the home defence, this was to be the only score of the first half, and the original thoughts of it being a tight match lingered the longer Kilmarnock went without adding to their tally.
Right from the start of the second half, Killie made their intentions abundantly clear, moving the ball through several pairs of hands and giving Rowlands the easiest of tasks to score under the posts again. Again McWhirter converted.
Caithness were offering little in attack, and anything that they did attempt was marshalled easily by the resolute Killie defence.
On 21 minutes, a quick throw-in by Matt Bradford allowed the Killie backs to move the ball along the line for Johnny Bradford to score in the corner. The difficult conversion was not added.
On 30 minutes a scorching break by Stephen Whittet led to the bonus point victory. This time, McWhirter completed his hat-trick of conversions and also completed the scoring.
Any win on the road is a good effort, but given the length of journey involved to play such close rivals in the table, this has to be a splendid away bonus point victory for Kilmarnock.
The Ayrshire side now sit fourth in the table on a better points difference than Glasgow Acsies, who have completed their programme.
Kilmarnock still have two matches to play, and will finish clear in fourth place if they can take even one point from these games.
The first of the two is this Saturday, when Kilmarnock are again on the road with a trip to Hillfoots with a 3pm kick-off.