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Highland Rugby Club head coach Dave Carson confident his players can rise to the challenge of travelling to National One leaders Gala

By Alasdair Fraser

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Highland head coach Dave Carson is relishing the chance to pit his team against National One’s current best after a frustrating spate of postponements.

The Canal Park side ventures to Netherdale to face league leaders Gala, fresh from the imminent hosts’ 66-point rout of Cartha Queen’s Park a fortnight ago.

While Gala have the title in their sights sitting two points above Heriot’s and four above Biggar with four matches to play, mid-table Highland can draw upon a very unlucky defeat to the leaders back in November.

Hugo Crush could miss the rest of the season for Highland after suffering a dislocated shoulder. Picture: Callum Mackay
Hugo Crush could miss the rest of the season for Highland after suffering a dislocated shoulder. Picture: Callum Mackay

That day, the hosts were squeezed out in the dying seconds by a winning kick that left Gala relieved 16–15 victors.

Carson, hopeful of a big finish in Highland’s last five matches, said: “Gala are a big side, but they beat us by a single point, with the last kick of the game. We were there or thereabouts.

“This season, certain teams have been better than us, simple as that, but there are probably three games we should have won that stick in the throat – and that was one of them.

“It was a great game and could have gone either way, so we’re going down there excited to get playing again. It is a big challenge, but one we’re really looking forward to.

“It has been so stop-start for us since Christmas. No team has really been able to build up a head of steam given the Six Nations, the state of pitches and Covid.

“We’ve got a chance now with five games on the trot, hopefully, to build some momentum.

“We couldn’t get any harder a start than Gala, but we’ve regrouped well since the Biggar defeat three weeks ago, trained well, and we’re looking forward to going down to Netherdale which is a great pitch to play on.”

Carson, while seeking a strong finish, could look to experiment from the substitute’s bench in remaining matches, blooding unnamed players of potential from the club’s second team.

He added: “The second team have just wrapped up the championship in Caley North Two which was fantastic. The coaches Nathan McLaughlan and Blair Lockwood have highlighted two or three who might step-up for next year, so we’ll maybe look to give them a wee introduction from the bench over the next five games.”

Hugo Crush, who dislocated a shoulder against Biggar, misses the match.

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