That old saying “shoot for the moon and you’ll end up among the stars” is central to Edinburgh Accies’ approach as they head into a crucial RBS Premiership rugby clash against Dundee High at Mayfield tomorrow.
Although locked with their opponents in second bottom place, according to Nyle Godsmark, the Capital club’s winger, it is more important to banish any prospect of being drawn into a relegation play-off against the National League runners-up and concentrate instead on trying to reach the top four and a British and Irish Cup place – even with only a couple of fixtures remaining.
It is the strongest possible measure of just how tight competition is that were Accies to post bonus-point wins during a run-in that also includes a visit to already-doomed Boroughmuir they could still finish third.
“We’ve spoken about it and it is essential we visit Dundee looking ahead rather than back over our shoulders,” said Godsmark who, along with Matt Coupar, grabbed a try as Stirling County were overcome 13-10 last weekend.
Added Godsmark: “It is still within our capability to finish top four and that would be a tremendous achievement, especially as we have been producing players like Ruairidh Young and Sam Pecqueur who are away with Scotland under-20s in France this weekend.”
Godsmark, whose brother, Ryan, an older twin by ten minutes, plays back row at Accies, had personal aspirations to national honours at one stage.
“Coming from Selkirk I played district age-group rugby in the company of Stuart Hogg, the Scotland full back, and Robin Hislop who has gone on to gain an Edinburgh contract. Competition was tough at national level, however, so I missed out.
“Nevertheless, I have found plenty of satisfaction at Accies whom I joined this season after starting a Sports Coaching course at Edinburgh College with a view to going on to complete a degree.
“Being coached by Simon Cross, who has drummed into us the important of defence, has been a big advantage and has enabled me to build on advice I received at school from John Rutherford and Graham Marshall [both ex-Scotland].
“When I started turning out for Selkirk, too, I found myself on the opposite wing from Lee Jones, a hero of mine growing up who was capped by Scotland last season.”
With other Accies regulars Alex Allan and Hamish Watson away playing with the Scottish clubs’ team in France it is experience like that possessed by 20-year-old Godsmark which could prove vital tomorrow.
When the teams met earlier this season Accies romped to a 40-17 home win, but with Dundee having no players on international duty the task will be that much harder.
Godsmark, who has also claimed tries against Boroughmuir, Currie and Heriot’s as well as a brace against Musselburgh in the Edinburgh Regional Cup, knows Accies will have to be at their best. “We have the third fewest points-against in the league despite our position so not giving anything away will again be crucial. It could, though, be a very different game from when we defeated Dundee at home in the league.”
Returning at centre for Accies will be Ewan Campbell on a day when Ruaridh Bonner takes over from his injured brother, Euan, at stand off. Not surprisingly, Accies otherwise stick close to the team which overcame Stirling on a day when Johnny Else and Malky McVie will take on coaching responsibilities with Cross in France assisting the Scotland under-20s.
Cross says: “With our fate still very much in our own hands it is up to a young group to fight for every league point. They fronted up to a very physical Stirling side and we know that Dundee will pose similar questions.”
Dundee are able to recall experienced second row Richie Hawkins along with stalwart winger Ross Lemon.
Dundee coach Ian Rankin had revenge on his mind when he remarked: “Accies gave us a good drubbing earlier in the season, but we are a completely different team now.
“The pressure is building on so many teams to avoid the play-off spot on one hand and at the same time strive to make B&I Cup qualification. It will be interesting to see who blinks first.”
Rankin also feels the contest will be an antidote to last week’s turgid Six Nations clash at Murrayfield: “If anyone has had their faith in rugby tested after ‘scrumgate’ at Murrayfield I suggest they witness a full-on, passionate game with no holds barred and the result of so much importance to both sides.”
Also in the Premiership, Boroughmuir visit Stirling with a side showing Sam Johnson back at scrum half while Byron McGuigan returns to the home wing.
Top match in Edinburgh tomorrow pitches RHC Cougars against Livingston in the Regional Shield final. Winners go through to face either Langholm or Marr for a place on national finals day at Murrayfield.
Cougars official Dougie Cross is confident the team learned enough from a recent league defeat by Livingston which ended a ten-match unbeaten streak in East Division one to turn the tables.
“We had a kick in the last minute to draw the previous match with Livingston, so hopefully we can carry on where we left off in going straight back on the attack,” says Cross.
“A trip to Murrayfield for our team would be well deserved for the effort being put in, but there is obviously a lot of work to do first. Livingston have a pack capable of controlling the ball and it will be another interesting contrast in styles as we like to play at pace.
“Key will be keeping ball and not kicking possession away.”
Cougars field schoolboy Scott Simpson at full back having received dispensation for the youngster to enter the senior ranks, while captain and centre Euan Morrison has been kicking plenty of goals.
Flanker Andrew Fraser is another sure to be closely marked having scored a brace of tries in the fixture a fortnight ago.
Since then, Cougars went to Portobello last week and resumed winning ways with a 22-6 victory. In East Division One, Preston Lodge await Dunbar.