Highland kicked off their National League One season with a comfortable 26-17 win at home to Ayr, but head coach Davie Carson insists there is still room for improvement.
Highland travel to Rubislaw to face Aberdeen Grammar on Saturday and Carson, while happy with his team’s bid against Ayr, knows the decision-making can be better.
He said: “Considering it was our first competitive game of the season, it was a good overall positive performance.
“It’s always good to have a winning start. I thought we were very focused, although we probably should have scored more than two tries.
“We took the wrong options at key times, but this is a win, which sets us up well for our trip to Aberdeen next week.”
The Highlands fight back after the visitors’ first score
The afternoon got off to a bad start for the home side in front of a large Canal Park crowd when winger Mo Zimmerman kicked in a penalty to give the West Coast side an early lead, but instead of lifting the visitors, it served to inspire the local pack that burst in. to give lock Owen MacDonald the first down in seven minutes.
Stand off Scott Fraser kicked off the difficult and wide conversion, scoring 16 points in an excellent display of place kicks that included four penalties and two conversions, proving vital to the home win.
Highland kept the pressure on, adding a penalty and another striker-inspired touchdown awarded to Fraser-converted No. 8 Stuart Butler and with Zimmerman giving a second penalty for the Millbrae side, it was 17-6 at the half time.
Highland continued to dominate but were stunned by an Ayr breakout that led to a try from flanker Michael Kirk.
The conversion was a miss, but despite Fraser adding two more penalties, Ayr was back in the game, all the more so when Zimmerman kicked in his third penalty, making it 23-17 in the dying minutes.
Inevitably, it was Fraser who calmed home nerves to make it 26-17 at the final whistle, giving Highland fans another opportunity to continue their 100th anniversary celebrations.
Orkney win on the road in National League return
Orkney, meanwhile, were making a winning return to National League rugby in Edinburgh where they crushed Royal High 52-17 in their National League 3 game to the delight of chairman Garry Coltherd.
He said: “We kept our form and focus in a great win. New head coach Frank Robb deserves credit for bringing the team up to speed. Winning on the road is always a bonus.
Big wins for Ellon and Aberdeenshire in the Caley Leagues
The Caledonian leagues also kicked off with Ellon making headlines in Division 1 from Caley to Thurso where they beat Caithness 60-24, underlining their intention of promotion at the start of the season at the expense of one of the better teams graded from the division.
Dunfermline also confirmed they will be up there again after handing newly-promoted Aberdeenshire a 47-17 thrashing.
Blairgowrie were unable to field a squad for their game against Aberdeen Wanderers at Groats Road.
At Caley 2 North, 2nd Gordonians beat North Police Scotland 34-31, while RAF Lossiemouth won 48-7 at home to 2nd Aberdeen Grammar.
Elsewhere, Ross Sutherland comfortably held off Banff 40-10 at Invergordon. Shetland beat Mackie 32-19 at Lerwick and at Inverness 2nd Highland were 29-10 winners against Moray.
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[Winning start from Highland but head coach Davie Carson wants more]