Club rugby: Heriot’s coach happy with progress

Heriot's head coach Phil Smith

Heriot's head coach Phil Smith

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Heriot’s coach Phil Smith insists he is seeing progress in the development of his squad as he prepares for the clash with Currie at Malleny Park tomorrow in a reprise of last season’s BT Premiership play-off semi-final (kick-off 3pm).

Heriot’s snatched victory in the dying seconds of that match on their way to lifting the title. However, both sides lost experienced individuals over the summer and have started the campaign slowly.

The Goldenacre men have won twice and garnered two losing bonus points to sit fifth in the table, while Currie, despite a squad brimming with raw talent, have recorded only one victory and are bottom.

Smith recalls John Semple and Murray McCallum and has an experienced bench that features Scotland sevens cap Michael Maltman.

“Another frustrating weekend of rugby saw us eventually lose out to a good Hawks side last weekend. However, we are proving, to ourselves at least, that things are taking shape and this young side have exciting times ahead,” said an upbeat Smith.

Currie coach Ben Cairns has freshened up his side with pro Lee Jones, Cameron Hutchison and Richard Snedden all handed starting berths, while Hamish Bain returns at lock after injury.

“Although our matches have been very close in the last couple of seasons Heriot’s have always had the edge and this is a trend we are determined to stop on Saturday,” said Cairns.

Currie’s conquerors last Saturday were Watsonians who make the trip to face Gala for an encounter which has added spice given the inclusion of former Gala men Martin Christie, Craig Borthwick and Euan Dods in a strong Sonians pack.

Coach Marcus Di Rollo, who gives a debut to winger Max McFarland, said of the trip: “Netherdale is a tough place to go, but the guys have trained well this week and we have quite a settled side, so we are looking forward to it.”

Boroughmuir face the task of halting league pacesetters Ayr at Meggetland. The Capital side chalked up a four-try bonus in losing at Hawick last week but know that the visitors will punish any defensive lapses even more ruthlessly than the Borderers did.

“You can’t get much harder than playing the league leaders, but the players and coaches are really looking forward to the game,” said Muir coach Peter Wright, who names Zimbabwe internationalist Andy Rose on the bench after injury.