Victory over Heriots served as reminder to Highland Rugby Club of what it takes to win in National One
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Dave Carson thinks Highland Rugby Club’s players have had a reminder that they need to give their all to win in National One.
A disappointing start to the new season, that included one of the club’s heaviest defeats in years, took some at Canal Park by surprise.
They went behind once again last Saturday at home against Heriots, needing a try and conversion in the final minutes to snatch their first victory of the campaign.
It was an encouraging show of character, and Carson reckons the message has finally got through that Highland cannot afford to leave anything on the pitch if they want to be successful in Scottish club rugby’s second tier.
“They realised, especially some of the new boys coming in that hadn’t played in National One but now know what it’s like to win, how hard you’ve got to work,” Carson said.
“That’s the biggest thing as guys move up into National One with the first team, it’s such a hard 80 minutes.
“They’ve really got to put their bodies on the line and work until they drop basically.
“I don’t think we did that in the first two games, but we certainly put that across all week that you’ve really got to be blowing. We’ll cart you off at the end if that’s what’s needed, but you need to put everything on the line.”
It possibly could have been expected after such a long lay-off that it would take some time for Highland to get back to top form.
No club rugby was played at all for 18 months after the start of the pandemic, but the confusion at Canal Park stemmed from poor league results following strong performances in pre-season.
Finally, though, Carson was happy with the display to overcome Heriots.
“We had shown in our pre-season games against two Premiership sides in Edinburgh Accies and Grammar what it took,” he explained.
“We didn’t win down in Edinburgh, but we played really well and we played well against Grammar and we got a result in that friendly.
“We knew how physical it was and what was needed to go out and get wins.
“So we can’t really put our finger on why we didn’t perform in the first two games.
“We certainly got our points over in training last week, chatting to the boys, and obviously the penny dropped because they delivered the performance that we wanted.”
Highland will be boosted by the returns of Steven Murray, Stuart Butler and Rory Cross for Saturday’s trip to Boroughmuir.