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Highland hope to use their speed to upset league leaders Kelso

Highland head coach Davie Carson.
Highland head coach Davie Carson.

Davie Carson is urging his Highland side to use their pace as a key weapon when National One leaders Kelso visit Inverness on Saturday.

If the game gets the all-clear at Canal Park, it is set up to be a cracker, especially given the Inverness team being running Kelso so close when they were played at Poynder Park in October, as they lost 24-21.

Highland are fifth in the table after Saturday’s 16-7 defeat against promotion contenders Biggar in strong winds and driving rain.

There is only one point between top two teams Biggar and Ayr, with a pack of teams eager to get involved if there are any slip-ups above them.

Head coach Carson explained how his men performed away from home against the title contenders gives him hope they can dish out what would be only Kelso’s second loss of the league of the season.

He said: “A home game against the leaders is what you want here at Canal Park. We should have a big crowd, if it goes ahead, and let’s see what we can do.

“Kelso and Ayr are the top two. But when we played down at Kelso, with another five minutes, I know we would have won. They were running out of steam.

“We were 24-9 down at half-time and came right back into it and scored some really good tries in the second half.

“Down at Ayr, we were well in it and, in the last 90 seconds, we got beat, so we’ve competed well against these sides. Let’s get them at home now.

“I reckon, with the speed of our game, if we can maintain that for 80 minutes rather than just the second half, like we did down at Kelso, we can get a result.

“The speed of the game has troubled the like of GHK and Aberdeen Grammar, so that’s what we’re looking for against the big teams like Kelso, who will give us more problems than the other sides.

“We are just a point below Gala right now and we’re targeting a finish as high as we can.  Gala are the next on our radar as we aim to get into fourth position.”

Craig Findlater is in the Highland squad for Kelso.

Early call will be made on fixture

With the snow landing in Inverness from Monday leading to no training on the pitch, Carson reckons the improving conditions means it will be a watching brief as to whether the fixture goes ahead.

He said: “It will be touch and go. It should be milder come Saturday morning, but we’ll have to make a call late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

“Come 3pm on Saturday, the pitch might be playable, but we can’t have Kelso travelling up unless we were sure. It can’t be 50-50. You have to think about your visiting opponents.”

If the match is on, Craig Findlater and Grant Jamieson return from work commitments to boost Highland this weekend, but a head knock for Alex Macdonald at Biggar puts him on the sidelines.

Kinsella on Glasgow Warriors’ radar

And Carson explained he’s got high hopes for back row Alfie Kinsella, who is catching the attention of coaches at Glasgow Warriors and beyond.

He added: “Alfie comes back into the reckoning for Saturday. He has been selected for Glasgow Warriors under-18s.

“They had a double squad session on Sunday. They didn’t play on Saturday. The next big one is Glasgow Warriors play Edinburgh and the Scottish under-18s are chosen from that.

“He’s doing really well. He still needs to play rugby and we’re speaking to the district coaches and they still want him playing.

“We just need to watch him, so he is in top condition come the games, so he will get further up the tree.”

Orkney hoping for better health

In National Three, Orkney are off to Glasgow to tackle second-placed West of Scotland.

Derek Robb’s side are in sixth position following Saturday’s 47-9 loss away to Strathmore, who are now just one point and one place below them.

When West of Scotland visited Pickaquoy in October, they walked off as 38-28 victors and go into the weekend fresh from a 27-26 win at Murrayfield Wanderers.

Many of Robb’s players went into the New Year battling bad colds and chest infections and that impacted their starting line-up last week.

The head coach said: “Three starting players had to pull out last Thursday evening, while others were not quite over the bug and ran out of steam in the last 20 minutes.

“We’re hoping that one full week on will make a difference and we will see the back of this flu bug, although travelling to the West of Scotland will test their resolve.”