Heriot’s coach Smith eyes a change in fortunes

Phil Smith felt his team looked jaded when losing to Melrose last weekend
Phil Smith felt his team looked jaded when losing to Melrose last weekend
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Heriot’s coach Phil Smith has shaken up his side as the BT Premiership champions bid to bounce back from a lacklustre effort in defeat last week with an improved performance against Gala at Goldenacre tomorrow (all kick-offs 2pm).

The title holders paid the price for a lack of discipline in a 32-21 defeat at Melrose last Saturday and produced only fleeting glimpses of their best form. That has prompted Smith to make changes including a move for John Semple to stand off and a recall for winger Harry Boisseau. Veteran hooker Stewart Mustard replaces the unavailable Michael Liness, while Ian Wilson starts in the back row as a replacement for Jason Hill, who is set to be a long-term absentee through injury.

“The boys left Melrose last week a little bit jaded and this probably showed in parts of our performance,” conceded Smith. “However, they realise there is no time to be feeling sorry for themselves.”

Currie coach Ben Cairns has been boosted by the inclusion of Glasgow’s Kieran Low and will hope that the Scotland internationalist can help engineer a result at home to Melrose that will halt to a three-match losing run.

“It’s been a difficult few weeks for the side having played well in patches but not well enough over the full eighty to get the results,” said Cairns. “We know Melrose will pose a huge challenge for us this weekend and will be buoyed after beating Heriots last weekend. However, we’re back at Malleny and this normally brings out the best in the boys. And, with a largely unchanged squad ,we are hopeful we will put in a full eighty-minute performance and get the result we require.”

Meanwhile, Boroughmuir will also be hoping to rediscover the wining feeling when they play a third-successive home fixture, this time against Stirling County. Muir have failed to take anything from losses against Heriot’s and Hawick and coach Bruce Aitchsion is seeking a win that will revive their bid for a top-four finish. The hosts have the Tongan international winger Otelea Katoa on release from Edinburgh.

A win for Edinburgh Accies last week moved the Raeburn Place side into the top half of the BT National Division One table and Phil Leck’s men have an opportunity to blast open the promotion race when they travel to face leaders Marr, who are looking to bounce back from a first defeat of the campaign.

Watsonians are on the road to meet GHA still smarting from a painful defeat at home to Dundee High that cost the Myreside men the opportunity to take top spot. Sonians led five times but were overhauled on each occasion and will be looking to reproduce their attacking performance while tightening up in defence.

Musselburgh’s never-say-die attitude has served Grant Talac’s men well so far, and they will go into their match against Jedforest at Stoneyhill looking to protect an unbeaten home record.

Meanwhile, Stewart’s Melville have so far failed to perform consistently and last week squandered an opportunity to take a losing bonus point in favour of chasing an unlikely victory. That latest defeat leaves the Inverleith men at the bottom of the table and they go to Dundee High with the focus firmly on repeating the bonus-point win they recorded in the corresponding fixture last season.

Preston Lodge slipped into the lower half of the Division Two table after a one-point loss at home to Cartha Queens Park last Saturday but will take heart from a strong finish as they look to bounce back at Kirkcaldy. Lasswade, who also tasted defeat last time out, are in action at Cartha.

In Division Three, third-placed Haddington travel to face Perthshire, the side immediately below the Neilson Park men, while RHC Cougars are on the road to meet basement side Dalziel and Livingston 
welcome West of Scotland.