RUGBY: Melrose kickstarts key Highland spell in National One
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Highland Rugby Club head coach Dave Carson believes the next three weeks could define their season.
A visit from Melrose to Canal Park this week will be followed by trips to Gala and current league leaders Ayr.
With the table beginning to take shape after a handful of games, Carson knows nothing can be won at this stage of the season – but sight of the title and promotion can certainly slip away with a bad run of results.
“For us, the next three weeks is going to really show where we are in the standings,” Carson reasoned.
“It would be nice to get to the Ayr game having won the other two and try to get closer to Ayr, because they are picking up bonus points every week and are six points ahead.
“It’s a long season though, and every team will be affected by injuries with the 15 games before Christmas.
“If you want to go up, you’ve got to beat the best.
“To be the best, you have to beat them, so we’ll just focus on ourselves.”
Last time Melrose, with former Highland director of rugby Iain Chisholm in tow, visited Canal Park it produced one of the most entertaining games of rugby Carson has ever seen.
Highland, though, have learned and improved since.
“We’ll have to be at our best to get anything out of this one,” Carson said.
“We’ve been working on our team defence and our backline defence since the GHA game, where they got around us a lot, so we’ve worked hard and it seemed to work against GHK.
“They had to go down the middle and try some pick and go stuff but they got nothing down the edges.
“Melrose are a side who put it out wide, so the guys have taken on board their wingers and centres, and obviously the support from the back row will help keep them out.”
Carson is hoping to welcome Calum Macpherson back from a foot injury, but Mike Gray will replace Jack Sutherland – who dislocated his shoulder against Biggar last week – in the back line.