Highland’s Canal Park pitch beat the cold snap, but the Inverness side could not beat Biggar and had to settle for a hard-fought National One draw on Saturday.
The 15-15 scoreline means that the sides collected two points apiece from an entertaining 80 minutes and they both had chances to win it late on.
With a pre-match lunch on at the club and little other sport in the region getting the go ahead there was a healthy crowd down to watch this one and it was certainly a game that ebbed and flowed.
Highland took the lead in the first half through an excellently taken try from winger Magnus Henry.
It was unconverted before Biggar kicked a penalty to make it 5-3.
Then came the moment of the match when a lovely cross field kick by centre Michael Gray set up winger Dan Corr for the second Highland try, Corr gathering well and scampering in at the corner for an unconverted effort.
Highland would have hoped to pull away from there, but after a tough start to the season Biggar have picked up a few positive results recently.
They fought back just before half-time with a well worked unconverted try to make it 10-8 to the home side at the break.
Feisty encounter at Canal Park
There was a lot of physicality in the game and a number of big tackles going in and the referee was particularly hot on the tackle height law, so both teams gave away penalties for that early in the second half.
The stop-start nature of things was making it hard for either team to get on the front foot, but Highland did manage to extend their lead to 15-8 with a third unconverted try.
The score came from the aforementioned Gray, later named player of the match for the hosts, after he showed good strength to ride a couple of tackles and get over the line.
Biggar were not done yet though and, thanks to the promptings of their impressive centre Robbie Orr, they managed to score their second try under the posts and it was converted to make it 15-15.
Both teams had the chance to walk away with the win: replacement James Blair’s penalty attempt came up fractionally short for Highland, followed by Biggar’s last ditch drop goal that went wide of the target.
‘Players gave it everything’
Highland coach Dave Carson was proud of his side’s efforts.
He said: “I can’t fault the players’ efforts, they gave it everything in what was a competitive match.
“We know from the last few years that our matches with Biggar are always keenly fought and once we knew that the pitch was playable we were keen to play and so were they.
“The three tries we scored were all finished off really well and maybe if we had been a bit more clinical at times we could have scored more points, but given Biggar had the opportunity to win it late on a draw was probably a fair result.
“It was great to see so many down at the club and we were delighted to welcome former Press & Journal rugby writer Jack Nixon and his grandson down to the lunch to thank him for everything he has done for the sport in the area.”
Highland captain looking for strong finish to 2023
Carson’s men are still second in the table while Biggar are eighth and next up for Highland is Melrose away this coming weekend in their final match before Christmas.
Highland captain Scott Fraser said: “The performance on Saturday was a big step up from the recent ones against Watsonians and GHA, unfortunately we just couldn’t get the win we wanted.
“It was probably a fair result against a much-improved Biggar team who have some good players.
“We started the game fairly well and we started the second half well, but we just couldn’t get far enough ahead at any point.
“I was frustrated not to kick any of the conversions and that turned out to be crucial.
“James Blair’s penalty effort from long range was a great attempt near the end, it just didn’t quite have the legs.
“We will take positives from the match and move onto the Melrose game now as we look to finish 2023 on a high note.”