This weekend will see only two RBS Premiership games, with Ayr looking for their first defence of the Bill McLaren Shield against Gala and Stirling County hoping to salvage points against Edinburgh Accies, in their bid to escape from the relegation zone.
Falling off their perch as league leaders last Saturday, following an upset defeat to Currie, fourth place Ayr can only return to the summit of the table with a bonus point win over Gala. On the contrary, a win away at Millbrae for the Borders side, could take them six points clear at the head of the table.
The match also doubles up as Ayr’s first defence of the Bill McLaren Shield, a title which they won following their 27-17 victory over Melrose at the Greenyards on Saturday 2 November.
Ayr back row Andrew Dunlop, said: “After the disappointment last week, training has definitely stepped up a few notches and we feel we’ve worked on the areas that needed amended.
“Gala are always a hugely physical and well-drilled side but that will add to the excitement of the match and is something we’re looking forward to.
“Playing at home is a massive boost for us, the town get behind us and make a huge difference. This week is especially important as it’s our first defence of the Bill McLaren Shield.
“Last season we were undefeated at home and this season we’ve only lost once at Millbrae, so we’re looking to maintain its reputation as an extremely tough place to play, a bit of a fortress if you like.”
Gala centre, Chris Auld, said: “Ayr will ask a lot more questions than Aberdeen last week and we know we’ll need to step up to the plate this week if we’re to get the win especially at Millbrae.
"Ayr are a team when on form that can beat anyone. In fact anyone can beat anyone this year in the league as last week has shown so it’s even more motivation for us to get the win. We know they will come out all guns blazing to prove a few points after last week so we’ll have to step up to match them early doors.
“If we were to win, getting that breathing space will set us right on our way, but Ayr are aware of this also which will make for a good game.“
At the other end of the table Stirling County will be looking for their first victory since 21 September, when they host seventh place Edinburgh Accies at Bridgehaugh. The Caledonian side lie second bottom just above Currie – both on 14 points – although Stirling have a game in hand. Only a bonus point win - as well as a 36 point differential in the process - will put County above Aberdeen Grammar and out of the relegation zone.
Stirling County coach Graeme Young, said: “Every week will bring new twists and turns but at the end of the day we need to start accumulating league points to claw our way back up the table.
“Energy and intensity is the key in fighting our way out of the red zone.”
Regional Cup competitions will continue tonight and tomorrow throughout the country as teams look to make progress towards RBS Finals Day at Murrayfield.
In the RBS Women’s Premier League this weekend undefeated Hillhead Jordanhill host RHC Cougars, Murrayfield Wanderers welcome Stirling County and Watsonians will be looking for their first victory as they take on Melrose at home.
All games in the RBS Women’s Premier League take place on Sunday, kicking off at 2pm.
Ayr v Gala, Millbrae, 3pm
Ayr team: Grant Anderson (captain); Craig Gossman, Robbie Fergusson, Dean Kelbrick, Kerr Gossman; Ross Curle, Murray McConnell; Denford Mutamangira, Fergus Scott, Nick Cox, Peter McCallum, Scott Sutherland, Callum Templeton, Andrew Dunlop and Graham Fisken.
Replacements: David Young, George Hunter, Graham Williamson, Peter Jericevich and Richard Dalgleish.
Gala team: Andy McLean; Gerald Sibanda, Chris Auld, Ewan Scott, Grant Somerville; David O’Hagan, George Graham (captain); Rory Sutherland, Callum Mackintosh, Ewan McQuillin, Craig Borthwick, Opeta Palepoi, Gary Graham, Stevie Cairns and Tom Weir.
Replacements: Russell Anderson, Ewan Johnstone, Gary Lowrie, Gregor Mein and Craig Robertson.
Stirling v Edinburgh Accies, Bridgehaugh, 3pm
Stirling County team: Ben Addison; Graham Lindsay, Danny Gilmour, Brian Archibald, Matt Lamb; Fraser Lyle, Andy Watt; Kris Burney, Alex Moffat, Colin Hutton, Craig Deacons, Matt Larsen, Struan Robertson, Will Bordill and Stevie Swindall.
Replacements: Reyner Kennedy, Jamie Bhatti, Shaun McDonald, Jamie Swanson and Stuart Edwards.
Edinburgh Accies team: Jamie Sole; Nyle Godsmark, Ewen Campbell, Iain Berthinussen, Matt Coupar; Ruairidh Bonner, Alex Black; Duncan Morrison, Michael Liness, Shaun Strudwick, Jamie McCarthy, Greg Campbell (captain), Robin Snape, Hamish Watson and Callum Reid.
Replacements: Fraser Rawlinson, Phil Cringle, Neill Aitken, Ryan Godsmark and Mike Campbell.
RBS Border Regional Cup – Round 2
RBS Caledonia Regional Cup - Round 2
RBS Edinburgh Regional Cup – Round 2
RBS West Regional Cup – Round 2