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Highland captain Callum Carson sets sights on first away day win after narrow Kelso loss

Highland co-captain Callum Carson is chasing the win at Stewart's Melville this weekend. Image: Jason Hedges
Highland co-captain Callum Carson is chasing the win at Stewart's Melville this weekend. Image: Jason Hedges

Callum Carson insists Highland must go from scaring Kelso to beating Stewart’s Melville to prove that they can be winners on their travels.

The National Division 1 side put in a powerful second half show in the Borders last weekend to come close to winning at Kelso, but fell short in a 24-21 loss against their hosts, who had also won their opening four fixtures.

Co-captain Carson says the players will board the bus from Inverness on Saturday determined to build upon that as they chase their first away victory in a bid to push up from fifth position.

He said: “Like most Edinburgh sides, Stewart’s Melville like to chuck the ball about, play good rugby and run when they can.

“They’re a good side and we’re going to have to be on it down there to hopefully get the monkey off our back in terms of away results.

Hugo Crush was a try scorer for Highland last weekend at Kelso.

“We really need that away win to get us going and it would give the boys more confidence for when we get on the bus, knowing we can go away and pick up points. A win this weekend is crucial.”

Steady improvement for Highland

Stewart’s Melville’s only win so far came on day one against GHK and Carson hopes a more settled Highland side on away days will help in terms of team selection.

He said: “We lost our two away games (against GHK and Kelso), which was frustrating.

“I don’t know whether you put that down to the travelling or the team availability, which has not been consistent week by week.

“We have been improving overall, which is good to see. Against GHK, we were poor, but we turned it around against Biggar and played very well and played really well down at Kelso. It was two good rugby sides going at one another and someone had to win.”

Highland gave Kelso real scare

Having put in such an encouraging display at Kelso, flanker Carson admits there are mixed feelings about the outcome.

He added: “There were plenty of positives to take from Saturday’s game. Once the dust settled, we felt a losing bonus point is not an awful result down there, although it still hurt because we were so close and we could have won.

“A few decisions we made in key areas were costly and we need to try and fix those. It can’t change the result, but they are all things we can work on at training and hopefully improve that for the weekend.

“Last season, we went to Kelso and lost by 40 points. This was night and day compared to that.

“We were three points away and had opportunities to win it, but just didn’t take them.

“There are just a few small things to improve to help us take that next step to close out these types of results.”

Wanderers heading for Orkney

Orkney, meanwhile, will be looking to return to winning ways in National Division 3 when they host bottom-placed visitors Greenock Wanderers.

Newly promoted as Caledonia Division 1 champions, Orkney have settled fairly well, winning three of their five games, including two away fixtures.

Their defeats so far have come against second-placed West of Scotland and fourth-placed Howe of Fife, who beat them 41-14 last weekend.

Orkney are only one point behind the Fifers and head coach Derek Robb is confident his players can put on a winning display against the visiting Wanderers.

He said: “We have no real idea what to expect from Greenock. I can’t recall having played them before.

“It will be interesting to see what type of team travels, but we should have a fairly strong squad.

“One or two older heads will hopefully be back in the equation for selection. I’d expect us to perform well at home.

“We have to win the majority of our home fixtures. Out with that top bracket of clubs, I’d expect us to be fairly competitive this season, especially at home.”

Orkney moving in right direction

Orkney kicked off their campaign with a 52-14 victory at Royal High in Edinburgh and followed that with a 32-26 triumph away to Murrayfield Wanderers before getting their home form off and running by defeating Strathmore 32-24.

Despite losing in Fife last week, Robb sees definite signs of progress.

He added: “We won our first three games, two of which were away fixtures, so it was a really good start, admittedly against not the strongest teams in the league.

“We played West of Scotland and Howe of Fife, who are probably both aiming to be a top-three sides.

“You can see, by their organisation, they should be within that bracket.

“Against West of Scotland, we let ourselves down a little in terms of our accuracy. We were on their try line four times and only had one try from that, caused by silly mistakes at the wrong times.

“I’d say we were competitive, finished strongly and scored two tries in the last 10 minutes, but we didn’t quite get the losing bonus point.

“We had a fairly young squad away to Howe of Fife last weekend, 10 guys of the 19 were aged 20 or younger, so it was a learning curve and they got a lot from the game in terms of organisation and from a defensive perspective.

“We scored two good tries (through Craig Slater and Robbie Firth), but Howe of Fife are the best defensively organised side we’ve played so far. It was very difficult to get through them.”