HIGHLAND missed out on the opportunity to close the gap on National One runaway leaders Ayr, who look racing certainties to claim the only promotion slot on offer into the Premiership at the end of this season, after the Inverness men were held to a 15-15 draw by a never-say-die Biggar side who have now gone four games without defeat.
After their horrible start to the season in which the Lanarkshire outfit lost their opening seven games, Biggar look back on track for a high finish in the top National League, and had they taken advantage of their late pressure could have snatched victory from the home side who themselves squandered chances in the freezing conditions of Canal Park on a day when only two games in the men’s leagues survived the weather.
Highland were not surprisingly disappointed not to pick up five points, especially when the Northeners are usually home bankers on their own artificial pitch, and like fellow challengers who include Glasgow Acccies, Melrose, Watsonians and Gala, they must now pretty well accept Ayr are out of sight in the race for the title.
The pity of it is that with only one promotion place up for grabs, the supporters of the aforementioned sides are being denied an exciting run in to the end of the season. A point made last season by Davie Carson, the Highland coach, who has master-minded the club to five promotions since first taking charge of the team in 2012.
”It just doesn’t make sense, particularly as there are a clutch of clubs vying for second place in a very competitive set up, denying supporters a great end to the season,” said Carson.
Biggar president Rab Ramsay agreed with Carson’s assessment. ”We are not directly involved but might just have had a part to play when we met some of the contenders,” he said.
“Nothing is new, we were denied promotion to the Premiership in the first year of Covid when the league was suspended with Biggar already assured of the title, but that’s history, and we’ll just have to get on with making our mark in the run-up to our 50th anniversary in two years time.
“In the meantime, we are just going to enjoy the superb hospitality of my opposite number Roy Dinnes in this wonderful facility,”
Despite the anti climatic situation, the two sides knuckled down to provide an enthralling encounter in which Highland scored three unconverted tries through Magnus Henry, Dan Corr and Michael Gray (with a 70 metre solo effort), while Biggar scored two touchdowns through Rowan Stewart and Andrew Jardine, with Euan Bogle kicking a penalty and a conversion, making for a fair outcome, at least in the eyes of the neutral.
The abiding memory from the afternoon was of two sides who are not prepared to rest on their laurels, which in Highland’s case is 100 years of keeping northern rugby on the Scottish map, while Biggar have achieved miracles from their base near to Border territory at the same time as not being not a million miles from Edinburgh and Glasgow.
In their 48 years of existence they have come through regional leagues, national leagues and graced the Premiership for two years under Gary Parker.
Present at Saturday’s game were three players from the first ever Biggar match in 1975, including president Ramsay, former president Ian Warnock and historian Al Stewart. ‘
‘When we lined up for that game, we thought the club might survive for a couple of years. And yet here we are looking towards returning to the Premiership, hopefully in time for our 50th anniversary, and generally with lads from the area,” said Ramsay.
Meanwhile, Highland also remain committed to their long time avowed intent to reach the Premiership.
”Perhaps not this season but we have a young, developing squad who are easing themselves into contention,” concluded Carson. “Today our ball retention was not good but this is a team prepared to learn as we go along.”