An exciting weekend beckons in the RBS Premiership as the top four teams meet, with one v four and two v three.
Table toppers Melrose host defending champions Ayr at the Greenyards (2pm), as they look to bounce back from their defeat last week at Heriots where they went down 18-30. A win is imperative to their title campaign, with the chasing pack – Heriots, Gala and Ayr - now heavy on their heels.
Adding to the excitement, the game is also the third defence of the Bill McLaren Shield for Melrose, as they strive to get the club name inscribed on the coveted prize.
Melrose coach, John Dalziel, said:
Although Heriot’s played very well we failed to execute our game plan and were very inaccurate. However, we do not turn into a bad side overnight and still remain top.
“As our selection highlights we have shown confidence in our players and we feel they deserve another opportunity to go out and right a few wrongs from last week.
“Everyone is fully aware of the importance of Saturday’s match, which is against a very experienced, well drilled Ayr side.”
The other clash sees second placed Heriot’s make the tough trip South to meet Gala (3pm), who - despite having two games in hand - lie only five points behind their Edinburgh opposition. With both teams coming off the back of good wins – Heriot’s scalping league leaders Melrose and Gala gaining a huge 48-16 victory away at Currie - confidence will be high in both camps.
Heriot’s coach Phil Smith, said:“With the top four teams playing each other this weekend no one will want to lose ground, so I sense two close encounters.
We are well aware of the challenge that Gala will set us as they led for most of the game at Goldenacre and I am sure the British and Irish cup experience will have further hardened an already tough squad.
“However, we know if we can repeat last week's efforts and accuracy, we will be hard to beat.”
In other fixtures, Stirling County welcome Currie to Bridgehaugh (3pm), as the two teams battle it out at the foot of the table.
Aberdeen Grammar take the long trip South to meet Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place (2pm), with Hawick challenging Glasgow Hawks at Old Anniesland (3pm).
Pro-players turning out for Premiership teams this week are; James Johnstone, Rob McAlpine (both Hawick), Grayson Hart (Gala), Tom Brown, Stuart McInally (both Currie), Lee Jones, Scott Riddell ( both Edinburgh Accies), Kevin Bryce, Michael Maltman (both Heriots), Mark Robertson (Melrose) and James Eddie (Ayr).
On Sunday in the Women’s RBS Premiership; Watsonians host Murrayfield Wanderers in the capital clash, RHC Cougars welcome Stirling County with Melrose and Hillhead Jordanhill meeting at the Greenyards. All games kick off at 2pm.
Edinburgh Accies v Aberdeen, Raeburn Place, 2pm
Edinburgh Accies team: Nyle Godsmark; Lee Jones, Ewen Campbell, Iain Berthinussen, Jamie Farndale; Alex Blair, Mike Campbell; Alex Allan, Michael Liness, Phil Cringle, Jamie McCarthy, Alex Toolis, Greg Campbell (captain), Hamish Watson and Callum Reid.
Replacements: Duncan Morrison, Shaun Strudwick, Scott Riddell, Ruairidh Bonner and Chris Dean.
Aberdeen Grammar team: Stevie Aitken; Erland Oag, Will Wardlaw, Harry Duthie (captain) Peceli Nacamavuto; Mark Ryan, Morgan Ward; Matt Dixon, Sean O’Connor, Struan Cessford, Andy Cramond, Jamie Metcalfe, Sam Bingham, Tony McGinness and Tom Preece.
Replacements: Matt Schosser, Sandy Warnock, Rob Cessford, Calum Gordon and Sam Knudson.
Referee: Charles Samson
Melrose v Ayr, Greenyards, 2pm
Melrose team: Fraser Thomson (captain); Damien Hoyland, Andrew Skeen, Joe Helps, Austin Lockington; Richard Mill, Bruce Colvine; Nicky Little, Todd Pearce, Nick Beavon, Graham Dodds, Ross Ovens, Peter Eccles, Grant Runciman and Andrew Nagel.
Replacements: Richard Ferguson, Chris Keen, Ross Miller, Alan Dodds and Mark Robertson.
Ayr team: Grant Anderson (captain); Craig Gossman, Robbie Fergusson, Dean Kelbrick, Kerr Gossman; Ross Curle, Murray McConnell; Neil Cox, Fergus Scott, George Hunter, Peter McCallum, Scott Sutherland, James Eddie, Andrew Dunlop and Callum Templeton.
Replacements: Stuart Fenwick, Denford Mutamangira, Graham Fisken, Peter Jericevich and Richard Dalgleish.
Referee: Rob Dickson
Stirling County v Currie, Bridgehaugh, 3pm
Stirling County team: Joff Hope; Graham Lindsay, Archie Russell, Brian Archibald, Ben Addison; Stuart Edwards, AJ McFarlane; Jamie Bhatti, Reyner Kennedy, Colin Hutton, Craig Deacons, Matt Larsen, Struan Robertson, Will Bordill and Jamie Swanson.
Replacements: Alex Moffat, Kris Burney, Sean McDonald, Steve Swindall and Danny Gilmour.
Currie team: Tom Brown; Harvey Elms, Ethan Pollock, Adam Alexander, Ruaridh Smith; George Horne, Richard Snedden; John Cox, Dave Cherry, Alastair Hamilton, Gary Temple, Petre Netrescu, Mike Vernal, Mark Cairns and Ross Weston.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Graeme Carson, Charlie McLean, Ian Vance and Alex Penman.
Referee: Graeme Wells
Glasgow Hawks v Hawick, Old Anniesland, 3pm
Glasgow Hawks team: James Gormley; Gavin Lowe, Robert Beattie, Mike Martin, Haddon McPherson; Mike Adamson, Dan Smart; Steven Findlay, Jack McFarlane, Brendan Cullinane, Andy Linton, Angus Hamilton, Andy Kirkland, Stephen Leckey and Ross Miller (captain)
Replacements: Callum Kerr, John Lohoar, Rory McKay, Andy White and Paddy Boyer.
Hawick team: Neil Renwick; Neil McColm, James Johnstone, Gary Johnstone, John Coutts; Ali Weir, Jake Evens; Shawn Muir, Ross Graham, Wullie Blacklock, Rob McAlpine, Bruce McNeil, Nick Mactaggart, Stuart Graham and Keith Davies.
Replacements: Matt Landels, Keiran Willison, Rory Scott, Scott McLeod and Greg Cottrell.
Referee: Iain Heard
Gala v Heriots, Netherdale, 3pm
Gala team: Andy McLean; Craig Robertson, Chris Auld, Ewan Scott, Grant Somerville; Gregor Mein, Grayson Hart; Rory Sutherland, Russell Anderson, Ewan McQuillan, Craig Borthwick, Opeta Palepoi, Chris Weir, Gary Graham and Stevie Cairns.
Replacements: Callum Mackintosh, Richard Todd, Ollie Atkins, Craig Dodds and Gerald Sibanda.
Heriots team: Colin Goudie; Max Learmonth, Keith Buchan, Cameron Ferguson, Harry Boisseau; Rory Carmichael, Graham Wilson; Craig Owenson, George Turner, Nathan Borel, Murray Douglas, Jason Hill, Michael Maltman, Alex Henderson and Jack Turley (Captain).
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Mike McDonald, Chris Mulligan, Sam Hidalgo-Cline and Liam Steele.
Referee: Peter Allan