Accies had their challenge for promotion back to the BT Premiership dented by a defeat at home to Selkirk last weekend and O’Riordan, a former player with Muir, admits that his team was too tentative on the day. He is now urging his players to address that as they bid for a place in the last eight.
“The cup was never part of our overall plan, but we have nothing to lose and it’s a good opportunity to play with a bit of freedom,” said O’Riordan. “There is no pressure, so hopefully the guys can cut loose a bit.”
Accies are largely unchanged from last weekend although Andrew Bell starts at stand-off in place of Will Stephen, who is rested as he attempts to shake an injury, and Jack Paterson returns to the starting side.
Boroughmuir coach Peter Wright is also seeking a reaction as his players bid to bounce back from a defeat against Glasgow Hawks that has left the Meggetland men in the bottom three of the BT Premiership.
He anticipates a tough battle up front, saying: “Accies are going well in National 1. We know they have a big pack and we’ve not underestimated the task ahead to qualify for the next round.”
With that in mind, Wright makes no changes to the forwards and restores Dougie Steele to full-back after his outing at scrum-half last week, with Greg Cannie switching at centre in place of Mark Hare.
Currie, as top four finishers in the league last season, enter the competition at this stage. However, the draw has done them no favours as they travel to face Melrose, another of last season’s leading quartet. The Malleny Park men have lost twice against the Borderers this season but coach Ben Cairns is relishing the opportunity to address that.
Currie’s strong representation in the Scotland Under-20 squad and the absence of professional players this week has forced Cairns to reshuffle his side. That means starting places for Ruaraidh Smith, Matt Hooks and Matt O’Neil in the backs, while, in the pack, Rhys Davies replaces the injured Stephen Ainslie and Scott McGinley is handed an opportunity to impress in the back row.
“Melrose away is probably the toughest draw we could have asked for.
“They are playing some excellent rugby at present and I’m sure will be full of confidence going into this encounter,” said Cairns. “Knockout rugby tends to change the mentality of the players and with a number of guys getting an opportunity at first 15 level we go to the Greenyards with nothing to lose.”
Last year’s winners Heriot’s will start as strong favourites away to Kirkcaldy, but coach Phil Smith will not allow complacency in his ranks, given painful memories of exiting the competition at the hands of lower league outfits Howe of Fife and Jed-Forest in recent seasons.
“As cup holders we will be pretty much at full strength as we are determined to hold on to the cup for as long as possible,” said Smith who hands a debut to hooker Ali Johnstone but otherwise fields a side brimming with experience.
“Last weekend we put together some excellent rugby at Netherdale and will be hoping for a repeat of that intensity and intent.”
Watsonians head West to face Glasgow Hawks, with coach Marcus Di Rollo urging his men for a repeat of last Saturday’s effort at Melrose.
“We got off to a slow start, but played well in spells to pick up two losing bonus points and now we want to take the attacking intent that saw us score six tries into this BT Cup tie,” said Di Rollo.