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Rugby: Highland keen to prove with they can win again without home comforts

Highland head coach Dave Carson. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Highland head coach Dave Carson. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Highland head coach Davie Carson is urging his men to deliver another big win on the road when they go to Stirling County in National 1 this Saturday.

The Inverness side came out on top 14-10 against high-flying visitors Gala last weekend, which took them fifth in the division, just 10 points away from front-runners Kelso.

The leaders swept to a 50-17 win against mid-table Stirling, who have been reasonably competitive in most of their fixtures so far.

In terms of away results, Highland were lifted in more ways than one by their 21-18 success against Stewart’s Melville in Edinburgh a fortnight ago.

And Carson hopes having proved they can win away from Inverness can be a big bonus as they board the bus to Stirling.

He said: “Having won away, we know we can do it. If you want to be up there at the end of the season, you have to have wins away from home.

“We have a tight-knit squad and they just have to be able to raise their game without having the fans and their families behind them at Canal Park.

“The performances have to come from within them and the team to get themselves in the right place to perform away from home without the home backing.

“They have shown they can now do it and it’s just a mental thing now. They have to switch and on say: ‘they can do it’.”

Carson wary of host Stirling County

While confident, Carson is on his guard against a Stirling side with quality within their ranks.

He added: “Stirling have won three and lost four and are there or thereabouts. Although they lost quite heavily on Saturday, they beat Melrose at home at the start of the season and have had some decent results.

“In this league, if you don’t turn up any team can beat you. We need to turn up, like we have in the last three weeks.

“We said to the boys, it’s been a strong start to the season with just one wee slip-up against GHK, while there was not much in it when we lost to Kelso.

“We’ve improved a lot since the disappointing game against GHK, so we’re looking forward to going away from home again this week.”

Defensive strength led to victory

To score a victory against an impressive Gala outfit was a further lift for Highland and Carson felt it was a determined display which helped earned them the win.

He added: “It was great to get a win against Gala who were sitting second-top. It was important to get another home victory.

“It was hard-fought, but we deserved it in the end and I was delighted with the four points.

“Like the past couple of weeks, we put in a massive defensive effort. We totally dominated the first half.

“They had a 10-minute spell, but we out-scrummaged them and we were chopping boys down. Defensively, we worked really hard for one another and everyone put a great shift in.”

Highland should be along the same lines for this week, with 17-year-old Alfie Kinsella hoping to have recovered from a knee knock which drew his game to an early close against Gala.

Orkney can surge into top half

Orkney head coach Derek Robb, meanwhile, hopes the islanders can bounce back in National 3

Last week his newly-promoted team fell to a 43-17 defeat against Allan Glens in Glasgow, despite trailing just 17-10 at the break.

Four wins and three losses places Orkney mid-table with a respectable 21 points from seven fixtures.

This Saturday, they play host to Hillhead Jordanhill, who are two places and two points above them after their 20-15 defeat at leaders Gordonians.

Robb is urging his young team to learn from last Saturday and keep mistakes to a minimum.

He said: “Hillhead will be another tough one, because they’ve been playing well and ran Gordonians close.

“We’re certainly looking to bounce back from our defeat last week. Hopefully we can put on a more complete performance, reduce the error count and keep the pressure on when we’re in good positions.

“When we keep the pressure on, we’re scoring.”

Strong start before away day defeat

Looking back at last week’s loss, Robb insists errors were punished in ruthless fashion.

He said: “It was disappointing. We were 10-0 up with 10 minutes gone and, very similar to when we were down at Howe, we made mistakes when we were in good positions on the field and lost tries at the other end.

“We were also struggling a bit in the scrum, because we still don’t have players back we could do with against the better-scrummaging sides.”

With this being a rescheduled/standby weekend, Orkney have several players already booked to travel to Murrayfield for the Scotland v Australia match – a factor which may also hamper their hosts to some degree.

A bid to have the game switched to Glasgow was rejected by the championship committee.