Appleson ready to Cross swords with pal in derby

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A FEW weeks ago, Mark Appleson and Simon Cross were in the same dugout, but tomorrow they will be in opposition when their sides face each other in RBS Premier One.

Heriot’s head coach Appleson and his Edinburgh Accies counterpart Simon Cross were at the helm as Edinburgh Academy’s school first XV had a successful summer tour to South Africa.

Appleson is the head of PE at the school, while former Edinburgh player Cross helps out with the young team three times a week.

As such, the duo know each other very well ahead of tomorrow’s club clash. Appleson said: “Simon is an up-and-coming coach who has done a great job helping out with the school team and by all accounts he now has Accies playing some nice rugby.

“We know it will be a tough test, but the guys at Heriot’s are enjoying their rugby at the minute and want to keep the unbeaten start going.”

As Heriot’s skipper Graham Wilson pointed out earlier in the week in the Evening News, the Heriot’s squad is largely unchanged from the one that competed in 2010/11 and Appleson feels that has been key to wins over Hawick and Stirling County.

Appleson added: “In any rugby club continuity is key and the majority of this current squad, although young, have been together for a little while and work well as a team.

“It has been great to see the way that some of the youngsters like Jason Hill and Matt Reid have come on both on and off the pitch, while the backline is full of young guys who are keen to chip in and give Graham [Wilson] help on the pitch.

“Myself and my fellow coach Graham Marshall have really enjoyed pre-season and the first few weeks of the campaign and there is a good vibe about the guys.”

Michael Goldie – who started the opening day win over Hawick – regains the stand-off spot for Heriot’s with Cameron Ferguson unavailable through work.

A new Fijian player is also set to start in the back row with Edinburgh pro Alan McDonald unavailable due to injury.

The Heriot’s playing pool is also set to be strengthened in the coming weeks with the arrival of a stand-off from England and a back-row and a centre from Australia.

Accies have named an unchanged side after last week’s entertaining draw with Glasgow Hawks at Raeburn Place.

Cross said: “This promises to be an intriguing derby with both teams happy to put width on to the ball, let’s hope the weather holds off.

“We are just about at full strength after two gruelling games, which is encouraging, and the players seem to be dealing with the physical side of Premier One well.

“We are looking to build on the Hawks performance with an accurate, high-tempo game against Heriot’s.”

Elsewhere in the top flight, Currie travel to Aberdeen Grammar with the return of Gary Temple timely given that fellow second-row Andy Adam is injured.

Stand-off Andrew Binikos and centre James Johnstone also return as Currie look to post their first win of the season at Rubislaw.

Boroughmuir host Stirling County at Meggetland looking to build on last week’s win at Hawick.

In RBS Premier Two, the Stewart’s-Melville v Kelso clash at Inverleith promises to be a cracker, with the Capital side having won two from two so far. Watsonians host Jed-Forest and Falkirk are at home to Hillhead-Jordanhill at Cala Park.

In Premier Three, Lasswade host Morgan looking to bounce back from last weekend’s loss at Dumfries.