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Rugby: Highland put plans in place to stay active as Dundee clash hangs in balance

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

Highland head coach Davie Carson insists a mixture of festive rest and fitness work can help the National 1 side spring out the traps in the New Year.

The Inverness team, who were 58-14 victors against Aberdeen Grammar at Canal Park last week, expect this weekend’s fixture at Dundee to be called off due to a frozen pitch.

Highland beat Dundee 35-22 at home in September, but with the current forecasts, the return game on Tayside looks likely to be postponed.

Dundee’s junior games have been wiped out by the snow and ice and a decision about their seniors’ showdown with Highland is expected to be made by Friday lunchtime.

Carson explained if the weather leads to a call-off, the players will score an extra day off, but will train amid the mini-break to maintain their fitness.

He said: “I can’t see it being on. Dundee’s game was off last weekend and around midweek Mayfield was still frozen, so I don’t think we’ll see much rugby generally in Scotland this Saturday.

“I always say Saturdays are pretty precious for the boys to have with their families. You don’t get many off between September and December.

“If an extra one comes in, especially with Christmas so close, we’d certainly give the boys the weekend off.

“We’ll certainly be out two or three times at least between Christmas and New Year, with Tuesday and Thursday sessions at different venues.

“Fitness is a big thing and we’ve seen that before, where teams who keep on top of it over Christmas certainly come out of the blocks flying in January compared to other sides.

“We have a home game against GHK on January 7, which is an important home game. They beat us quite comfortably down there.

“We want to boys to be kept in good shape amid all the festivities and extra food they will be consuming.”

Canal Park benefits for Highland

Carson explained the benefit of their home venue helped Highland get action last week, as they secured a 58-14 victory against Aberdeen Grammar.

He said:Β “With the 4G pitch last week, we were lucky to have our game go ahead when other games were off.

“We trained all last week on the pitch and it was fine, while other clubs had to look for other venues because their pitches were frozen.

“If there is snow on it, we don’t go on it because that would compact it.

“We have used the big sports hall at Fort George for training this week, so we will see what the weather does.”

Second half improvement hailed

Looking back at the 10-try triumph against Aberdeen Grammar, Carson felt Highland improved throughout the game.

He added: “We were 24-7 up at half-time, so it was a good scoreline and we got our bonus point, but our performance was not good compared with our previous games.

“We were too loose and maybe guys thought it would be easy because Grammar are bottom of the league.

“But we got a lot better in the second half and scored another six tries so, overall, we got our five points and we’re only two places off fourth. We will keep pushing to see how high we can move up this league.”

Dundee’s last match was a 21-16 loss against Biggar a fortnight ago.

Orkney done and dusted for year

Meanwhile, Orkney have no fixture in National 3 after rounding off 2022 with a fine 19-10 home victory against Royal High.

The newly-promoted islanders have won six of their 11 games since their return to this level and will look forward to hosting Murrayfield Wanderers next on January 7.