Highland win ugly after bad Ayr day
DAVID Carson was keen to keep Saturday’s “worst performance of the season” in perspective after witnessing Highland’s laboured 28-3 victory over Ayr.
The head coach saw his team maintain a winning streak at Canal Park but slip five points behind leaders Biggar after missing out on a bonus point.
It was uncharacteristically sloppy and mistake-strewn in an 80 minutes where Highland sometimes lacked their trademark energy and drive.
Equally, though, the hosts were defensively sound, with mid-table Ayr barely causing a flutter of anxiety for the third placed side.
Carson liked the reaction his players showed after the game in recognising their deficiencies on the day.
“We just weren’t at the races, really,” he said.
“We weren’t accurate. The line-out didn’t function and we weren’t as energetic as usual.
“Such are the high standards we’ve set ourselves, the boys were disappointed even though we won 28-3.
“It was a comprehensive victory, really, but they knew themselves they didn’t play well enough, which is good for a coach to hear.
“Sometimes, things just don’t go for you with a few boys off the boil and if you can still grind out a victory, especially in this division, then that’s a bonus.”
While Highland dropped a point on leaders Biggar, Carson is more than satisfied with a league standing that is breaking new ground for Highland rugby after back-to-back promotions.
“The leaders Biggar got a bonus point and we didn’t but, hey-ho, we’re third in National One for the first time up here in the Highlands,” he stressed.
“We still have seven games before Christmas and we’re in a great position. For the opposition not to cross the whitewash on Saturday is really pleasing. They had one penalty chance which they took.
“We didn’t give them any other opportunities to kick and they didn’t look like scoring across the line with our defence. We’ll take that with five or six first team regulars not available.”
In a feisty contest, Highland gradually gained control against a determined Ayr who took a 3–0 lead with a penalty for a Highland infringement. It would be their last score.
Mike Gordon’s unconverted try and two Scott Fraser penalties made it 11–3 by the break. Craig Irvine’s long penalty kick stretched it further before converted tries from Hugo Crush and Connor Ross wrapped it up.
Highland now face bottom side Dundee on Saturday.