Watsonians to test their progress against Melrose

Jason Harries, normally of Edinburgh Rugby, is available for Sonians. Pic: SNS
Jason Harries, normally of Edinburgh Rugby, is available for Sonians. Pic: SNS
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Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie has acknowledged that his rapidly improving squad still has further progress to make. And he will be looking to take the next step towards becoming play-off challengers tonight, when BT Premiership pacesetters Melrose visit Myreside (kick-off 7.30pm).

The Borderers dominated proceedings in the first half of the league programme with nine bonus-point victories. And Lawrie knows that his players must be at their absolute best to halt the Greenyards juggernaut in the first match of the return phase.

However, Sonians, who have Edinburgh professional Jason Harries available, go into the fixture on a high after dismantling champions Ayr last weekend.

“The team worked hard and got the result they ultimately deserved. We have continued to work hard on areas that need addressed as we are still not as consistent as we would like in some areas,” said Lawrie.

“We have prepared well at training this week knowing that only our best effort and high levels of accuracy will be enough to obtain the performance we desire.”

Currie Chieftains coach Ben Cairns has offered his squad the chance to redeem themselves when they welcome Hawick tomorrow (2.30pm). The only change to the squad that lost at home to Heriot’s sees Harvey Elms return from Scotland sevens duty to displace David Hall at centre.

A gutsy effort away to Melrose last week suggested that Hawick could be ready to break their duck and Cairns is conscious of the threat the struggling Borderers pose. “It was a very disappointing performance last week against Heriot’s, who were better than us in most areas of the game,” said Cairns.

“Hawick are improving all the time and we know they are not far away from turning those improved performances into points. We have focused our attention this week on how we build pressure on our opposition and we hope to put this into practice.”

Fresh from posting that workmanlike success at Malleny Park, Heriot’s travel to face Stirling County, narrow winners in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season, with coach Phil Smith urging his men to carry on where they left off.

“The boys were delighted to get the win last weekend at Currie, digging deep to see it through,” he said.

“We now need to retain momentum against another one of the teams in the top four mix, and going to Bridgehaugh means there is no time to switch off.”

Smith has recalled Gavin Cameron and Jack McLean to the forward pack and, with Robbie Mulveena out through injury, switches Ross Jones to centre and Charlie Simpson to full back, while Edinburgh Rugby winger Duhan van der Merve starts on the wing.

Boroughmuir are on the road to meet an Ayr side that is looking to bounce back from that loss against Sonians.

Muir coach Peter Wright will be seeking a reaction from his men after they suffered an agonising loss when they succumbed to a late double by Glasgow Hawks last Saturday. Mark Hare returns from injury and will start on the bench, with Wright’s squad otherwise unchanged.

That is a sign of the confidence the coach has in his players, who again fell just short of the 80 minute performance they will need tomorrow.

“After another disappointing period of play when we conceded two late tries we have shown faith in the same starting 15 as, for 70 minutes, we played pretty well,” confirmed Wright. “With Ayr losing at home last week we know this makes the game even harder for us, but the guys have had a good week of training.”