Currie coach Ben Cairns insists his men are in buoyant mood ahead of tomorrow’s BT Premiership play-off semi-final away to Melrose. But he is warning that any lapse in attention will be punished.
Although experienced duo Richard Snedden and Fergus Scott are unavailable through injury, Cairns welcomes back his Under-20 contingent and also has Glasgow Warriors centre Ratu Tagive in his starting line up.
“Having visited The Greenyards twice already this season we know how difficult a place it is to go and get a result,” said Cairns, who admits that he faced some tough selection decisions before naming a team that is bristling with young talent.
“Melrose have threats all over the pitch who can sting you in the blink of an eye so we know we need to remain focused in our defensive efforts for the full 80 minutes,” he added. “However, we go with confidence having been in good form of late and feel our preparations have gone well. With pace throughout both backlines and with both teams having a real positive attitude on how to play the game I would expect it to be a very entertaining match for what we hope will be a bumper crowd.”
Currie have the added incentive of erasing the painful memories of last season when they suffered a final-play defeat against Heriot’s at the same stage of the competition.
Melrose, who finished top of the table in the regular season, are on track to record a silverware treble, with the Charity Shield already in the Greenyards trophy room and a BT Cup final clash with Ayr on the schedule for next month. They have been in impressive form throughout the season, particularly over the latter stages, although Stirling County exposed some frailties in last weekend’s cup semi-final, building an early lead with a powerful start to the game before Melrose regained their composure and played some excellent rugby to record a comfortable win.
The Borderers have had the advantage of more frequent competitive action over recent weeks, with three tough encounters including two cup ties and a league match in the past month. Currie’s most recent outing three weeks ago resulted in an impressive win over Boroughmuir that secured a top-four finish. The performance that day was skilful and clinical, and left Cairns feeling confident ahead of tomorrow’s trip.
However, Melrose have won all three matches between the sides this season – they also met in the cup – and will have the psychological edge this time. Nevertheless, their coach Rob Chrystie has acknowledged Currie’s fine form in the latter stages of the regular season and he is anticipating a tough test.
“They showed great fighting spirit to get into the top four and will be looking to go one step further than last year,” said Chrystie. “As always they will be well organised and we understand the effort required to break them down. I am sure the huge crowd expected will be treated to a thrilling game as is usually the case when we play Currie.”
The winner of tomorrow’s match will face either Ayr or Glasgow Hawks in the grand final. Should it be Currie who emerge victorious, they will be away from home for the title decider, having been the lowest-ranked qualifiers for the knockout phase.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh Accies will welcome Aberdeen Grammar for the final match in their BT National Division One campaign. Accies are guaranteed to finish in the top two, but could yet earn automatic promotion if they can post a bonus-point win tomorrow and current league leaders Marr fail to take anything from their trip to face GHA.
If Marr do take the required point to clinch the title, Accies will have another chance to secure a Premiership spot by beating Hawick in the promotion/relegation play-off which will take place on April 29, with Lasswade the likely neutral venue.