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Highland are set up to find extra consistency

By Andrew Henderson

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Head coach Dave Carson feels Highland Rugby Club are in a good place to kick on and become more consistent in 2022 to maintain a title challenge.

Highland Rugby Club v Ayr - Canal Park, Inverness..Highland celebrate the first try...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Highland Rugby Club v Ayr - Canal Park, Inverness..Highland celebrate the first try...Picture: Callum Mackay..

While it has been a good second half of the year for the club as a whole since rugby returned, with a third team now competing in the Scottish Rugby club pyramid, it will be a tough ask for the first 15 to continue their recent record of success.

It was a meteoric rise through the tiers at Canal Park, with four promotions in six seasons pre-pandemic.

In the season that was curtailed in March 2020, it looked as though Highland would be in the top two once again, and with just one promotion place to the Premiership they would at least have been in the driving seat to go up the following campaign.

However, the pandemic broke everyone’s momentum, and gave some sides the chance to improve.

That has led to one of the most competitive title races seen in years in National One this season.

Nine points – less than the rewards for two bonus point victories – separate Heriots at the top and Melrose in seventh, one place behind Highland, with the league’s giants having no shortage of “surprise” results against lower sides this season compared to years gone by.

Highland have been a victim of that themselves, twice losing back-to-back games before rebounding and putting points on the board.

Most recently they had won three in-a-row before losing the last game of 2021 away at Heriots, but it seems whoever can string a run of wins together in the new year will stand an excellent chance of winning the league, and Carson believes that his side can do just that.

“We’re enjoying it – the rugby is good, the standard is good, and I think every coach will say it’s just about getting consistency,” Carson reasoned.

“That’s why the All Blacks are the best in the world over the last 10 or 15 years, because they’re consistently good. They have the odd blip, but the vast majority of the time they’re at the races.

“We’ll just keep working with the boys and emphasising things through the same drills. It really has to get deeply rooted into them exactly what we’re doing, and we saw that in the run of three games that we won.

“They were really getting the idea, seeing out and controlling games. Apart from a couple of lads we’re still a young side in this league, so we will just keep learning.”

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