Hugo Crush says he feels “proud” to have become the latest Highland rugby player to reach 100 appearances for the first team.
And while he enjoyed the moment of getting to three figures in last weekend’s win over GHK, now his focus is on helping the Inverness men finish as high up the National One table as they can.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, they will be hosting Gala at Canal Park and with three regular season matches remaining in 2023-24 they are in third place.
They have 46 points while second-placed Melrose have 49 and Highland are still eyeing up finishing as runners-up to champions Ayr if they can.
Crush said: “Second place is still our aim and if we could do that then it would be a great achievement for the current batch of players and the coaches and would be the club’s highest finish overall in quite some years.
“Ayr are deserved champions because they went on an amazing run until last week’s defeat (at Watsonians), but we want to be best of the rest and we just have to focus on the final three games now starting with Gala.”
Back in October when Highland went to Gala the visitors were down 18-3 with six minutes to staring down the barrel of a defeat.
In the 74th minute Gala lost a man to the sin bin and then came the amazing comeback.
Sixty seconds later Magnus Henry went over for a try converted by Scott Fraser, and then, n the 78th minute, Dylan Monk went over for an unconverted try to leave things at 18-15.
Henry then scored a quite amazing last-gasp try and scrum-half Crush said: “Of all the 100 first team matches I have played in for Highland that was one of the more bizarre ones.
“We looked down and out, but it just shows you the team spirit we have at the club and it served us well that day. It is also one of the reasons why I enjoy playing for the club so much because we have always had that sense of togetherness on and off the pitch.
“I am now 26 and I have know a lot of my team mates since we were coming up through the junior ranks at the club.
“It makes it that bit more special when you win games with your mates and I think that mantra of playing for each other gets us through at times.”
Crush came through the youth set up with Highland while he has also had a spell playing senior rugby for Hamilton while he was studying at the University of West of Scotland.
He has been a regular in the Highland squad since relocating to the area a few years ago and certainly since club rugby returned post-pandemic in 2021.
“When I came back the new facilities were in place at Canal Park and it is just a great place to play rugby,” Crush added.
“I am proud to have played 100 games for the Highland first team.”
Peebles test for Aberdeen Grammar
In National Two, Aberdeen Grammar are bottom of the table and are back at home to take on leaders Peebles.
Grammar were right in the game in the Borders until half-time against the same opponents in November, but Peebles streaked away from them in the second period for a 46-13 win.
Gordonians, in fifth, are facing up to a road trip away to third-place Newton Stewart.
Orkney still have six matches left to play in National Three after the Hamilton Bulls postponement last week and will be itching to get back into action.
The third-place side are due to host fourth-placed Allan Glen’s in a match crucial to Orkney’s title hopes.
In Caledonia One’s North Conference, winners Moray are set to be at Caithness while third-place Highland’s second team are on the road to Aberdeen Wanderers.
Mackie, in fourth, are still pushing for a top three finish and they are hosting RAF Lossiemouth.
Aberdeenshire Quines and Shetland Valkyries meet in a women’s Caledonia North One play-off with the winners taking the title and a Regional Play-Off Series spot. That latter series will see someone promoted from the feeder leagues into the Premiership for 2024-25.