Watsonians will go into derby action at Stewart’s Melville in the National rugby League fresh from posting their biggest victory in nine years.
Not since a century of points were racked up in an early round Scottish Cup tie back in 2003 have ’Sonians struck with such vengeance as they did in thumping Jed-Forest 78-3.
Unsurprisingly, coach Marcus Di Rollo restricts changes to bringing back captain Mark Rennie at second row after injury while the experienced Ally Rowe starts on the wing.
A delighted Di Rollo feels his side had been waiting to click. “It was simple and effective rugby we played and any one of four players could have claimed man-of-the-match honours,” said Di Rollo, the former Edinburgh and Scotland three-quarter. “Relegation last season from the Premiership brought an opportunity for a fresh approach as opposed to battling the drop.
“Young players have come in and we have strengthened key positions with a few recruits from overseas.
“Dylan Rutherford has arrived from South Africa and next week we welcome his compatriot, Kyle Ross, in the back row.
“A catalyst for change was success in Spring sevens where, generally, the mindset changed a bit and allowed the likes of Jack Ferguson and Scott McKean to get involved with Scottish sevens squads.
“Centre Tom Hart is playing his best rugby in three seasons with us and Rory Steele has settled well at full back.
“We probably needed a bit of new blood and some re-building. In undertaking that process both flankers, Joe Jones and Dom Dunnett, have come in with plenty of good years ahead of them while Jonny Duthie, who drops down to the bench to accommodate Mark Rennie, has paid his way with athleticism that offsets a relatively slight build.”
After the last league split, Stewart’s Melville edged out ’Sonians 32-30 and Di Rollo is well aware how local rivals can often cancel each other out in preparing accordingly.
Currie entertain Aberdeen in the Premiership but are anticipating a backlash from the Dons after a home defeat by Boroughmuir.
Said coach Ally Donaldson, delighted to be able to include Edinburgh’s Dougie Fife at full back: “Our performance in losing at Melrose (21-26) was a step up in terms of intensity and tempo, albeit we were very disappointed to lose a match we led for a long time.
“There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves as a massive task awaits from a strong Aberdeen squad no doubt smarting from a defeat at home.”
Skipper Mark Cairns added: “We switched off for ten minutes and Melrose got a lot more ball in that period and were able to take their chances
“We had just as many if not more but our last pass let us down.
“Their last pass and decision making was good in the final quarter of the pitch.”
Boroughmuir were the only Capital winners a week ago and they head for Dundee unchanged.
On the bench prop recruit Kieran Cooney (ex-Melrose) is included after a two-try display at reserve level last week, while Will Kay is called in to replace the suspended Greig Scott.
Edinburgh Accies visit Stirling with a scrum bolstered by the return of Scotland under-20 prop Alex Allan while Edinburgh’s Lewis Niven remains on the other side of the front row. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) makes a seasonal debut at flanker.
Coach Simon Cross said: “It was the scrum and the team discipline that conspired to lose us the game last week against Gala.
“We have addressed these issues but know that Stirling bring an even more physical test.”
Heriot’s, still without a bonus point, have a tough assignment at champions Melrose, but the Capital outfit have reinforced their side.
Coach Phil Smith said: “Edinburgh have released Mike Penn, who comes straight in at full back with Max Learmonth returning from Rotherham. Flanker Jack Turley has now had his clearance approved so will get the chance to debut.”