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Head coach Dave Carson believes Highland were always in control of National One victory over Ayr

By Andrew Henderson

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Dave Carson was delighted with the level of control Highland exhibited over Ayr in their 18–10 win last Saturday.

It looked as though the Canal Park outfit may be on course for a clean sheet away from home, until two tries in the closing stages made the scoreline more respectable from Ayr’s point of view.

Until then, though, it was as close to a perfect performance as Carson has seen in the 2021/22 campaign.

“We were in total control – it was probably the best first half of rugby we’ve played all season,” he said.

“The boys played really well, and we scored two good tries with conversions, so I was really pleased.

Highland Rugby Club were largely untroubled on their way to victory at Ayr. Picture: Callum Mackay
Highland Rugby Club were largely untroubled on their way to victory at Ayr. Picture: Callum Mackay

“They came out really wanting it in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half, but we thwarted that.

“We scored two penalties, and I think there was eight minutes left when they got a couple of tries. The boys were out on their feet at that point after putting in a massive shift. They have done that over the last couple of weeks, so I was delighted.”

Carson was left puzzled by their hosts’ tactics, though, as Ayr continually refused to kick penalties in the first half.

Instead they opted to go for line-outs, which played into Highland’s hands in more ways than one.

“Ayr must have had five chances to take penalties in the first half, and they went for the line out every time,” Carson explained.

“We stopped their drive every time, so it was a bit naive on their side but it made it an easy team talk for me at half time – they thought they would roll over us and hammer us, which was a bit disrespectful.

“It could have been 12–12 at half time. Their kicker is very good, he can score from a long way out. He did when they were up in Inverness.

“We’ve learned our lesson, when we get the chance of three points we take them. They just kept going for the line out. The first two, maybe fair enough, but the third, fourth and fifth in the first half? It was bizarre. It played into our hands and really got the boys up for the second half.”

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