Gala and Melrose will fight for the top spot in the RBS Premiership when they meet at The Greenyards tomorrow, knowing that Edinburgh Accies and Heriot’s who clash at Goldenacre are hot on their heels.
The near Border neighbours currently sit in first and second place respectively, with one point separating them. Melrose have won four of their opening games, while Gala have won three of five so far. The Netherdale outfit are a point ahead, though, having won bonus points in all five matches.
Melrose head coach, John Dalziel, said: “Last week was a disappointing finish, but credit must go to a good Edinburgh Accies side who on the day took their chances well.
“We have not become a bad team overnight however and we remain focused and even more determined to bounce back. It’s a very competitive league as we imagined and there are no doubt many twists and turns to come.
“Saturday is another great challenge as well as being a derby match and these are the games the players train hard for. Gala are a determined well-organised side that will give nothing away easily.
“With one loss and a draw after five games they top the league, proving how resilient they actually are. We know we have to be at our best and will relish the challenge of taking on the league leaders at the Greenyards.”
Heriot’s and Edinburgh Accies, third and fourth in the table currently, will meet at Goldenacre tomorrow.
Heriot’s head coach, Phil Smith, said: “With a weekend that sees the top four sides playing each other the excitement is palpable within Goldenacre, particularly as our fixture is tied in with our ‘Fill the Terrace Day’.
“Last season we had a mixed bag against Accies as we lost a 20 point advantage at home to lose by a point, then beat them at Raeburn Pace. With both games going to the wire and of a very high quality I can only hope the same is on show on Saturday.
“We’re aware of the threat in their back three and the strength of their defence. However, we feel we have some qualities at the moment that if produced should make us a difficult team to beat.”
In the north Aberdeen Grammar meet Currie at Rubislaw, Hawick welcome Stirling County to Mansfield Park and Ayr and Glasgow Hawks meet at Old Anniesland for the first west coast derby of the new season. All matches kick-off at 3pm tomorrow.
Glasgow Hawks head coach, Jamie Dempsey, said: “Our games against Ayr have always been exciting encounters with plenty of good rugby on show and this week should be no different.
“This week sees some new faces come into the squad with Robbie Houliston and Angus Hamilton set to make their debuts for the club.”
Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors have released Kevin Bryce (Heriot’s) Finlay Gillies (Glasgow Hawks), Grayson Hart (Gala), Duncan Weir (Stirling County), Nikki Walker and Robert McAlpine (both Hawick) to play in the club game this weekend.
On Sunday, in the women’s RBS Premier League, leaders Hillhead/Jordanhill travel east to play RHC Cougars, Stirling County welcome Murrayfield Wanderers to Bridgehaugh and Watsonians will look for their first win of the new season on the road to Melrose.
Heriot’s v Edinburgh Accies, Goldenacre, 3pm
Heriot’s: Liam Steele; Colin Goudie, Keith Buchan or Max Learmonth, Cameron Ferguson, Harry Boisseau; Max Nimmo, Graham Wilson or OJ Brown; Craig Owenson, Kevin Bryce, Stuart Mustard, Murray Douglas, Russell Nimmo, Jack Turley (captain), Alex Henderson and Jason Hill.
Replacements: George Turner, Mike McDonald, Chris Mulligan, OJ Brown or A N Other and Max Learmonth or A N Other.
Edinburgh Accies: Nyle Godsmark; Jamie Farndale, Ewen Campbell, Iain Berthinussen, Sam Pecqueur; Alex Blair, Ruaridh Bonner; Alex Allan, Michael Liness, Phil Cringle, Greg Campbell, Andrew Findlater, Robin Snape, Neil Aitken and Hamish Watson.
Replacements: Duncan Morrison, Shaun Strudwick, Tom Stuart, Jamie Sole and Stuart Evans.
Referee: David Changleng
Melrose v Gala, The Greenyards, 3pm
Melrose: Austin Lockington; Damien Hoyland, Bruce Hutchison, Joe Helps, Allan Dodds; Richard Mill, Bruce Colvine; Nicky Little, Alun Walker, Nick Beavon, James Head, Ross Miller, Peter Eccles, Grant Runciman and Graeme Dodds.
Replacements: Todd Pearce, Gary Holborn, Ross Ovens, David Crawford and Andrew Skeen.
Gala: Graham Speirs; Grant Sommerville, Chris Auld, Ewan Scott, Gavin Young; Andy McLean, George Graham (captain); Rory Sutherland, Russell Anderson, Ewan McQuillin, Opeta Palepoi, Craig Borthwick, Gary Graham, Steve Cairns and Tom Weir.
Replacements: Callum Mackintosh, Ollie Atkins, Euan Dods, Grayson Hart and Craig Russell.
Referee: Peter Allan
Aberdeen Grammar v Currie, Rubislaw, 3pm
Aberdeen Grammar: Will Wardlaw; Angus Rennie, Harry Duthie (captain), Peceli Nacamavatu, Erland Oag; Mark Ryan, Morgan Ward; Matt Schosser, Sean O’Connor, Struan Cessford, Callum Harvey, Jamie Metcalfe, Rob Cessford, Tony McGuiness and Tom Preece.
Replacements: Sam Bingham, Matt Dixon, Cameron Turner, Steve Aitken and Luke Earle-Wright.
Currie: Ruaridh Smith; Harvey Elms, Alex Penman, Ethan Pollock, Calum Kerr; George Horne, Richard Snedden or Joe Stachan; John Cox, Joe Roe, Alastair Hamilton, Gary Temple, Elliot Mitchell, Chris Dumont, Mark Cairns (captain) and Ross Weston.
Replacements: Reece Patterson, Fraser Watts, Michael Clements, Ian Vance and A N Other.
Referee; James Matthew
Hawick v Stirling County, Mansfield Park, 3pm
Hawick: Neil Renwick; Scott McLeod, Nikki Walker, Lee Armstrong, Steven Anderson; Ally Weir, Jake Evans; Shawn Muir, Hue Scammell, Liam Launders, Rob McAlpine, Kieran Willison, Nick MacTaggart, Keith Davies and Bruce McNeill.
Replacements: Lindsay Gibson, Wullie Blacklock, Stuart Graham, Gary Johnstone and Neil McColm.
Stirling County: Joff Hope; Graham Lindsay, Robbie Hogg, Brian Archibald, Ben Addison; Duncan Weir, AJ McFarlane; Jamie Bhatti, Alex Moffat, Ross Murray, Ruaridh Leishman, Matt Larsen, Struan Robertson, Sean McDonald and Jamie Swanson.
Replacements: Reyner Kennedy, Colin Hutton, Will Bordill, Bengy Barsanti and Stuart Edwards.
Referee: Graeme Wells
Glasgow Hawks v Ayr, Old Anniesland, 3pm
Glasgow Hawks: James Gormley; Robbie Houliston, Jack Steele, Davie Milne, Haddon McPherson; Mike Adamson, Paddy Boyer; Steven Findlay, Finlay Gillies, Brendan Cullinane, Andy Linton, Angus Hamilton, Andy Kirkland, Mateusz Bartoszek and Ross Miller (captain).
Replacements: Calum Kerr, Craig Bachurzewski, Stephen Leckie, Andy White and Tom Steven.
Ayr: Grant Anderson; Craig Gossman, Ross Curle, Robbie Fergusson, Kerr Gossman; Finn Russell, Murray McConnell; Denford Mutamangira, Fergus Scott, Nick Cox, Scott Sutherland, Callum Templeton, Graham Fisken, Andrew Dunlop and Calum Forrester (captain).
Replacements: David Young, George Hunter, Peter McCallum, Peter Jericevich and Richard Dalgleish.
Referee: Iain Heard