After a two week break from the British and Irish Cup, Melrose, Ayr and Currie are back in action this weekend and go head-to-head with Celtic counterparts Aberavon, Munster and Swansea, respectively.
All teams play on Saturday with Melrose the only side playing on home soil against Aberavon (kick-off 1.30pm) where they will be desperate to snap up another win and continue their pursuit of a place in the quarter-finals.
Ayr travel to Ireland to take on Munster at O’Dowd Park (kick-off 2pm) while Currie are welcomed by Swansea to St Helen’s (kick-off 2.30pm).
On the first weekend of the tournament, Ayr and Melrose recorded spirited victories against Plymouth Albion (18-17) and Bedford Blues (19-17), but good form didn’t continue into the second weekend. Currie have battled hard but are yet to earn a win.
In pursuit of victory this weekend, all three teams put out their strongest sides and make the most of their professional players.
Melrose v Aberavon
The Greenyards – Saturday 10 December – 1.30pm
Melrose welcome back experienced back-row John Dalziel for the Welsh clash.
Melrose head coach, Craig Chalmers, said: “After excellent second half performances in both of our previous British and Irish Cup games against Bedford and Leinster, the challenge to my players is to go out and play for 80 minutes.
“Aberavon are having an excellent season, battling it out at the top of the Welsh premiership.
“This is a massive game for the club and one we must win if we are to have any chance of qualifying for the quarter finals.
“Our aim at the start of the competition was to win our home games and try to pick up a win on the road. Aberavon will be a very difficult game, but one we can win if we play for the full 80 minutes.”
Melrose team: Fraser Thomson; Mark Robertson, Jamie Murray, Joe Helps, Simon Webster; Scott Wight, Bruce Colvine; Nicky Little, Alun Walker, Lewis Niven, Peter Eccles, Ross Miller, John Dalziel, Graham Dodds, Grant Runciman.
Replacements: Richard Ferguson, Peter Tamba, Stuart Johnston, David Crawford, Scott McCormick, Bruce Dick, Chris Hardie.
Aberavon team: Ricky Thomas; Richard Carter, Darren Ritchie, Craig Evans, Chris Lewis; Howard Thomas, Dan Davies; Neil White, Marc Breeze, Chris John, Rhydian Gierat, Sam Williams, Nathan Strong, Richard Morris, Nathan Brown.
Replacements: James Donovan, Liam Gadd, Rory Gallagher, Evan Yardley, Gavin Ronan, Rowan Jenkins, Will Taylor.
Munster v Ayr
O’Dowd Park, Tralee – Saturday 10 December – 2pm
It’s an extremely difficult task for Ayr this weekend taking on Ireland’s best on their home turf.
Ayr head coach, Kenny Murray, said: “The challenge of a British and Irish Cup tie doesn't come any bigger than playing Munster in their back yard.
“The Mayor of Tralee, Councillor Grace O'Donnell, is making a presentation to the club just before kick-off so, it's a big occasion and we’re all looking forward to it immensely.
“Once again the players will want to do Scotland proud and put on a good show in this tournament. Best of luck to Currie and Melrose.”
Ayr team: Grant Anderson; Richard Dalgleish, Ross Curle, Mark Stewart (captain), Cammy Taylor; Robbie Fergusson, AJ McFarlane, Gordon Reid, Hayden Wisnewski, Moray Low, Josh Dunning, Colin White, Andy Dunlop, Robbie Colhoun, John Willis.
Replacements: Fergus Thomson, Stuart Fenwick, Craig Davidson, Scott Sutherland, Calum Forrester, Murray McConnell, Sylvain Diez, Murray Beckwith.
Swansea v Currie
St Helen’s – Saturday 10 December – 2.30pm
Currie have recruited support from RBS Premier 1 and Capital opponents, Heriot’s, welcoming Struan and Robin Cessford to the fold.
Currie head coach, Ally Donaldson, said: “We hope to use the lessons we learned from our matches against Leeds and Ulster where we have performed to a high standard but still chasing our first British and Irish win.”
Currie team: Jamie Forbes; Barry Mansfield, Douglas Fife, Andy MacMahon, James Johnstone; Andrew Binikos, Chris Leck; John Cox, Finlay Gillies, Colin Phillips, Adam Best, Rob Verbarkel, Steve Burton, Malcolm Peacock, Ross Weston.
Replacements: Fergus Scott, Ross Merrilees, Struan Cessford, Robin Cessford, Richard Snedden, Gregor Hunter, Tommy Seymour.
Swansea team: David Evans; Lewis Williams, Lewis Chance, Stefan Watermeyer, Nicky Thomas; Sam Davies, Matthew Torrance; Matthew Norman, Paul John, Jo Rees, Ben Davies, Richard Kelly, Olly Pardoe, Sam Lewis, Dan Baker.
Replacements: Alun Rees, Craig Cross, Sam Kiley, Andrew Gwynne, Rhodri Wells, Nico Setaro, Liam Price.