Edinburgh Accies coach Derek O’Riordan has again hit out at Scottish Rugby for repeatedly failing to clarify whether there will be relegation from the Tennent’s Premiership at the end of the season.
The winless Raeburn Place outfit sit bottom of the table ahead of tomorrow’s Capital derby away to Boroughmuir (3pm). That league placing is partly a function of O’Riordan having used the early part of the season to blood inexperienced squad players in order to develop his squad for the proposed new structure next year.
Clubs believed there would be no relegation. However, with growing pressure for the introduction of the Super Six semi-professional tier to be delayed, there are suggestions there could yet be demotion. Should that be the case, Accies look doomed.
“We are embarrassingly still no closer to any clarity on what exactly it is that we are playing for in what is now the business end of the season,” said O’Riordan. “But we need to rock up and show our teeth at the weekend like a team fighting for its existence and survival in the Premiership.”
He is helped in his quest for a first victory by the availability of four Edinburgh professionals. Two of that quartet, Rory Sutherland and Murray McCallum, will be at loose and tighthead in a powerful front row, while Mungo Mason is at flanker and Tom Brown on the wing.
For the hosts, defeat at Watsonians last week looks to have ended hopes of a play-off spot, but coach Peter Wright wants to return to winning ways and apply pressure to the teams above.
Muir too have an Edinburgh prop in the form of Daryl Marfo in their squad. Wright also welcomes back Willie Wardlaw who has been absent due to sevens commitments. Wardlaw’s return allows the impressively consistent Jordan Edmunds to take up his preferred wing berth.
Wright is looking for an instant response to last week’s loss, saying: “The squad was disappointed with the result last week and we are looking to finish the year of on a high. Accies have had a hard season so far but have been bolstered by the release of a number of pros from Edinburgh, so we will not under estimate the challenge.”
Third-placed Heriot’s go into their fixture at home to Stirling County (2pm) knowing that with the top two, Melrose and Ayr, facing each other, a win will move the Goldenacre men to within striking distance of second spot.
Victory at Ayr proved that Phil Smith’s men are hitting form at the right time, although the coach is warning against complacency. “While we have taken some confidence from last weekend, we are also aware that almost every team in the league is capable of winning against another.”
Heriot’s make only one change to the starting line-up, with sevens international Jack Cuthbert coming in on the wing. He is the first professional made available to the Goldenacre club this season.
The side that has benefited most from the pro draft is Currie Chieftains, who sit fourth in the table ahead of their trip to face Glasgow Hawks. One enforced change for Chieftains is at centre where Joe Reynolds, star man in last week’s win over Stirling is unavailable as he is in New Zealand for his wedding. He is replaced by emerging talent, Adam Hall.
Meanwhile, Watsonians have shown that they are now tough to beat. And they will need all of their defensive qualities as they seek a win at a resurgent Hawick that will keep them in the race for the top four.