Proud Ross Weston returns from a “career highlight” aiming to help Currie maintain hopes of a BT Premiership play-off spot against Ayr at Malleny Park tomorrow.
The 31-year-old back row was elevated to the captaincy of the Scotland Clubs’ team which took on English Counties last weekend and acknowledges the boost going into a re-arranged game which has the potential to put Currie level on points with fourth-placed Gala provided they grab a try-scoring bonus.
After that it could come down to how Currie fare at home to Glasgow Hawks in their concluding fixture, while Gala have to travel to Heriot’s.
“We are not looking further ahead than a fixture with Ayr which always seems to be particularly tight,” said Weston.
“For example, when we visited Ayr earlier in the season we had a late conversion for a losing bonus point but, unfortunately, it just failed.”
That’s a measure of the close rivalry in a fixture which has seen the home team win on the last five occasions.
While Weston is reluctant to look too far ahead, he was happy to recall leading out the Scotland Clubs’ team at Fylde.
“It was definitely a career highlight and when we turned round with the wind at our backs only seven points adrift I thought we were right in there, only to lose an early second-half try.
“Meeting up with Fraser Watt, our former player who is now at Ayr and part of the Scottish Clubs’ squad, gave me a reminder, though, of how tough a scrummager both he and tomorrow’s opposition will be.”
If the bonus point got away at Ayr then Currie must rue slipping up against relegated Edinburgh Accies and also Boroughmuir, who may face a relegation play-off.
“Those results showed the extent to which every team can beat each other in this league because on the plus side we have overcome both champions Melrose and Gala,” said Weston.
That win over Gala at Malleny Park was all the more remarkable considering the 22-60 defeat suffered in the corresponding fixture at Netherdale.
“There’s no doubt Gala gave us a thorough going over but that was when we were still putting a team together.
“Since then we have integrated the likes of Travis Brooke, a really outstanding Kiwi (and ex-Auckland B) in the back row, while the Cypriot pair of Fidias Efthymiou and Marko Mladenovic are also settled.
“We take a particular pleasure, however, from giving Premiership opportunities to a string of young Scots.”
Among these are winger Ruaridh Smith, who will turn out fresh from starring in back-to-back victories for Scotland under-20s against Wales and Italy, while Matt McPhillips is an 18-year-old full-back originally from Dunbar.
Missing will be stalwart scrum-half Richard Snedden, who picked up a knock against Edinburgh Accies. Age-group caps Harvey Elms and Robbie Nairn are also absent but Roman Denonain continues at second row, with his fellow former Bordeaux-Begles youth signing William Martin, a winger, on the bench.
Ayr also have call-offs due to representative calls and Currie coach Ben Cairns noted that while they may be safely into the play-offs, pressure is on to secure a home semi-final.
Cairns said: “This is the first of two massive home matches for the club. We were happy with the level of performance in patches in our last outing against Stirling and the challenge is to produce for a full 80 minutes. Ayr have come off the back of an excellent result versus Heriot’s and their final game versus Melrose will decide who gets a home semi so will be desperate to take momentum into that game.”
Currie have won their last two league fixtures and Ayr coach Calum Forrester noted they are a team on the up. “This is a huge game for both clubs and we take a lot of confidence from our victory over Heriot’s,” said Forrester. “But we are also fully aware how tough Currie are to break down, particularly at Malleny Park. Currie are one of the form sides in the premiership following recent results
“There are a couple of enforced changes to the team that defeated Heriot’s and, in the backline, Danny McCluskey starts at stand-off in place of the suspended Ross Curle.In the pack, Blair MacPherson starts at blindside for the unavailable Pete McCallum.”