A Defeat, But Promotion Still On
The following match report was written by long time supporter and friend of Highland Rugby Club, Jack Nixon of the P&J.
Highland made the worst possible start to a game in which they had hopes of toppling league leaders Biggar while giving their assistant coach Alisdair (Porky) Wemyss who died suddenly on January 10, the best of sends off before his funeral on Thursday.
Highland head coach Dave Carson conceded the best side had probably won, but said:''It has been a difficult time at the club since Porky died. I appreciate that it was not easy out there, but we didn't expect to give away two soft tries in the first 10 minutes. Biggar are, however, a very good team, and despite us fighting back with two unconverted tries of our own, they held on, putting the game to bed with a controlled, organised performance, giving us very little scope to move the ball wide in the pointless second half. But I am very proud of my team at a very stressful time for everyone at the club.''
Hooker and former captain of the team Kevin Brown and veteran of the highflying Canal Park side agreed with his coach's summation, but said:''We wanted to win so badly, but after the dreadful start we made to the game, we were not able to get into a rhythm, faced by a very organised Biggar side who are not top of the league for nothing.''
After some early mid field sparring, Biggar stand off Connor Lavery took advantage of some poor Highland defending in five minutes when he sliced through from the tail of lineout to give centre Matty Stewart the easiest of conversions.
Worse was to come four minutes later when Highland stung into action threw a wild pass which was intercepted by Stewart who ran all of 80 yards to score in the corner, and although the conversion was wide of the mark, it left the Inverness in a strong position at 12 - 0 to the good.
Highland to their credit showed true grit, taking the game to the Lanarkshire side, getting their reward in 17 minutes when after a spell of intensify pressure winger Rory Cross plunged over the Biggar line, and although stand off Iain Chisholm missed the conversion, it was game on at 12 - 5.
The pressure on the visiting line continued, and it was no surprise when centre Rob Eatough scored after fine work by his pack. Chisholm was again wide of the mark with the marginally easier conversion, but at only two points in arrears at 12 - 10, the bigger than usual home crowd anticpated a Highland comeback in the second half.
The fact that it did not materialise was entirely due to the raw ambition of Biggar who instead of sitting back on their narrow lead took the game to Highland who were unable to break the stranglehold the Hartree Mill side had on the game.
The only chance the home side to snatch victory was in the final minute when referee John Smith awarded them a penalty 35 yards out which was missed by Chisholm, completing a miserable day with the boot for the otherwise excellent stand off.
There was some consolation for Highland in that after the main game their second team won the Brin Cup, beating Kinloss Eagles 36 - 0 which given that their late coach had a big say in promoting their development, making it a fitting end to an emotional afternoon.