Davie Carson reckons his Highland aces are playing with flair as they aim to round off the year with a victory away to National Division One leaders Heriot’s Blues on Saturday.
As they prepare to take on the pacesetters on their Goldenacre pitch, the Inverness team have now won the same number of matches as their Edinburgh hosts and trail them by a mere four points in an ultra-tight chase for the title.
Only seven points separate seventh-placed Ayr with Heriot’s Blues at the top.
Highland boss Carson was thrilled as his side were deserved 32-20 victors over visitors Kelso on Saturday.
HIGHLIGHTS | 🎥🏉
A massive victory for @HighlandRFC on Saturday as they defeated @Kelso_Rugby in the National League One!
Highlights now available on #HighlandRugbyTV👇
— CORE (@coreltduk) December 5, 2021
That was in sharp contrast to when they were beaten 43-3 down at Kelso on the second weekend of the season in September.
Their stirring home win came hot on the heels of an impressive 18-10 victory at Ayr, while Heriot’s have had a frustrating fortnight.
Two weeks ago, the pacesetters were edged out 30-28 by visitors Melrose then last weekend their fixture at Cartha Queen’s Park was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
This has allowed the chasing pack, Highland included, to circle in on first place.
Carson said: “Our performances have really been picking up over the past few weeks.
“We played really well against Gala, but lost (16-15), but we’ve won two away games and a home game (away to Stirling Wolves and Ayr) and we’re playing some really nice rugby.
“The good thing is we have a lot of variety in our game, making the opposition think about what we’re going to do. We have got so many tools in the box and the boys are confident of using them all.
“We scored four good tries on Saturday and we were really pleased with the whole performance.”
Only peak performance will do
Carson, whose team beat Heriot’s 28-27 in Inverness in September, is hoping to complete a superb double over the leaders which would take them into the festive break on a high.
He knows only matching recent high standards will be good enough to leave the capital with a positive result.
He said: “It’s a big game down at the Goldenacre on a great pitch. They have a great set-up down there and they’re a top team.
“Their game was off on Saturday and they’ve had a rest. We certainly don’t want a rest because we’ve got momentum now.
“We just need to continue what we’ve been doing. You have to put in maximum effort against every team in this division as well as having maximum concentration.
“We need our forwards again to be physical and dominant and try to get on top of the Heriot’s pack.
“If we can get it out to our backs that would be great because our backs are running well now, and we are running in some good scores.
“We have got a bit of confidence now, without being over-confident and they are believing what we have been pushing into them over the past four months and it’s starting to click.
“We have three or four new players and it has taken them just a wee bit of time to get into our systems, but they have all put the effort in.”
Highland right in the mix for glory
The Highland coach is delighted his team are within the pack chasing glory at the top of the table as the excitement cranks up.
He added: “You really can’t call it at the moment because there are a lot of really strong teams up there. Some teams have got games in hand.
“Sometimes that can be a good thing, other times it’s a disadvantage and it’s better having points on the board. We will see how it pans out over the winter.”
Highland return after the break with a home match against Boroughmuir on January 8, one week before they go to Dundee.
Score settled in style against Kelso
Saturday’s win over Kelso raised the roof at the Canal Park and Carson was delighted they atoned for a sore 40-point loss away to their opponents earlier in the campaign.
He said: “We lost a penalty in the first five minutes then we took over with two good tries and another penalty in the first half. At half-time, we led 15-8 and all the boys enjoyed it.
Kelso pick up their third try after a series of pick and go’s. The conversion is good. That’s the last act of the game.
FULL TIME AT CANAL PARK@HighlandRFC 32-20 @KelsoRugby pic.twitter.com/wvuflCtDzA
— Highland Rugby Club 🦅 (@HighlandRFC) December 4, 2021
“We had a good crowd and they enjoyed some good running rugby. In the early part of the season, we were struggling to score tries, but we’re going quite well now.
“It was a bad result for us down there and it was mentioned to the players before they went out, to go and redeem themselves and they did that in bucket-loads. They put the effort in and really wanted it.”
Maximum effort delights Carson
The Highland lads are not only learning from Carson and the coaching staff at every session, but they are leaving nothing in the changing room when they step across the line every match-day.
Carson said: “We have really got it into our heads what we need to do every week. Their efforts have been fantastic. When they come in at full-time, they are on their knees.
“We have lost tries in the last five minutes recently, but that’s due to what they have put into the first 70 minutes when the games have been won by then. That’s fine.”
Carson expects the team to be along similar lines to last week as they face Heriot’s.