Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Rugby: Trio return for Highland as they expect tough test at title contenders Ayr; Orkney host Perthshire

Andrew Findlater is back for Highland for their trip to Ayr. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson
Andrew Findlater is back for Highland for their trip to Ayr. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Highland head coach Davie Carson has been lifted by a triple selection boost ahead of their National 1 trip to title-hunting Ayr.

The hosts have only lost twice this season – against Highland on the first day of the season, then last week when they were edged out 22-21 by leaders Kelso.

Ayr’s eight successive victories after losing in Inverness is warning enough for Carson’s troops.

However, Highland will head south on a high following their own fine 21-12 comeback win at Watsonian, which keeps them tucked just outside the top four.

Carson hopes the confidence gained for last week’s result on the road will stand them in good stead going in against strong opponents in Ayr.

He said: “We beat Ayr (26-17) on the opening day at home. This is us starting round two of fixtures.

“Apart from losing to us, Ayr had not been beaten until they lost by just one point against leaders Kelso last week. They have been flying, going eight on the trot without defeat until then.

“We beat them down there last year, which we were delighted with and this will be tough trip. Getting a win away from home last week will give us confidence.

“Ayr are a good, strong side with a few players who have played at a good level.

“We travel with a few selection headaches, which I’m happy about. Lewis Sinclair is available for selection, Grant Jamieson comes into the pack and Andrew Findlater returns. This is one of the strongest teams we’ve had available for some time.”

Controlled rugby delights Carson

Carson was delighted to see his team keep their cool against Watsonian before blasting back for last weekend’s win.

He said: “We got off to a really slow start – 12-0 down after around 12 minutes – and we were fearing the worst for a minute or two, but the boys gathered themselves and scored a good try before half-time to make it 12-7.

“We had the wind behind us in the second half and totally controlled it, played some good controlled rugby and the two tries we got in the second half came from eight, nine, 10 phases. We were unlucky not to get a bonus point, but won’t complain about that.

“Gala have slipped up in the last couple of weeks and we have a game in hand, so we could be just a couple of points behind fourth place.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played.

“I don’t know what’s happened to Gala – they were flying at the start of the season, but Melrose put 65 points past them on Saturday, which was incredible.”

Tribute to legend Doddie Weir

Meanwhile, like the wider rugby community as a whole, Carson felt the loss of legendary international player Doddie Weir, who died at the weekend.

The 52-year-old lost his incredible six-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), which led him to establish the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation (MNDF).

Carson said: “I actually only met Doddie once at the Black Isle Show. He was a great guy, within and outside of rugby.

“It was really sad news.

“When I saw him come out at the recent Scotland v All Blacks game, there had been a big change in the way he looked. It was a real shock to the system. It was horrible news.”

Orkney approaching midway stage

In National 3, Orkney will be raising money in memory of Doddie Weir and in aid of MND research this weekend.

The weakened first-team side slipped to a sore 84-14 defeat against perfect starters and table-toppers Gordonians last weekend, which pushed them down to eighth in the division.

Tenth-placed Perthshire are the visitors on Saturday, who will be looking to respond to their 34-33 defeat against Murrayfield Wanderers.

Head coach Derek Robb, who should have a full squad available, is encouraged by how his players are settling into life after winning promotion last season.

He said: “We have quite a group of youngsters coming through and they’re still learning, but overall we’re not in too bad a place, given we didn’t know what to expect (this term).

“This is the last game in the cycle. Perthshire are the last team we’ve to face in the first half of the season, so we have a realistic idea about what everyone is all about now. That might well assist going into the second half of the season.

“It would be fine if we could get another win under our belts against Perthshire. I’d be looking for us to get that and be fairly competitive this weekend.”

Weakened squad never gave up ghost

With several main players unavailable, Robb took heart from his team’s display against formidable Gordonians last week.

He added: “We managed to scrape together 17 players then one of the guys pulled up in the warm-up, so the only person on the bench was me.

“We had some good players, but no real experience for what we’re trying to do.

“However, we stuck in hard and got a couple of good tries in the second half when we had the wind. We also were on their line another three times, but Gordonians had too much depth.”