Edinburgh Accies coach Derek O’Riordan is promising a no-holds barred approach from his side when they welcome Heriot’s on BT Cup duty tomorrow (kick-off 1.30pm).
Unbeaten Accies sit atop National Division One approaching the half-way stage and O’Riordan’s men are relishing the opportunity to measure their progress against a Heriot’s team now back on track to feature in the Premiership play-offs.
The Raeburn Place side’s success this season has been built on a solid defensive effort and a bold attacking style. And the coach insists they will not be deviating from their aim of playing open rugby.
“If we go into a defensive mindset we are giving Heriot’s too much respect. We have the best defence in our league but if we just try to contain Heriot’s we will be getting away from what we are really excited about, which is getting loose in attack,” he said. “We will go out with an attacking mindset to try and score tries and have a crack against these guys. We are not going to try and keep the score down, and keep competitive – that’s not what we are about.”
O’Riordan believes he has unearthed several players who will be key to maintaining the club’s promotion bid, pinpointing teenage back rower Jack Mann and Kiwi brothers Luther and Conor Hirini, as key men. He has also praised the contribution of experienced stand-off Richard Mill, top scorer in Division One, and a former Heriot’s player who will be keen to steer Accies into the last eight.
While the league remains the primary focus, the hosts intend to make life tough for their near-neighbours.
“It’s just a one-off, have a crack and see where we are at. If we win, we win, if we don’t, we don’t – it doesn’t really faze us,” added O’Riordan. “We will put out the best available squad. We wouldn’t want to rest boys given the nature of the game and who it’s against. A lot of the guys are excited by the opportunity to play against Heriot’s and to test themselves against a Premiership side.”
For the visitors, four-times winners of the competition, the tie is an opportunity to build on a victory over Stirling County before the international break that has restored their Premiership challenge.
“The players are excited to get back into it after a blank Saturday,” confirmed coach Phil Smith. “Accies are obviously going well, and having played them in pre-season, where we claimed a narrow win, we know we are playing a side full of confidence who will be looking to take a Premiership scalp. Alongside that we also have players looking for the bragging rights in the north of the city.”
Should Accies post the win that would see them progress to the last eight of the competition, they would be on target to join an exclusive club that has won the second tier title and the cup in the same season.
Both Boroughmuir and Gala have achieved that feat, and the two will meet at Meggetland tomorrow. Muir will be hoping that the absence of pressure to garner valuable league points in their bid for top-flight survival will allow them to play the open style they have exhibited only fleetingly.
The hosts, who welcome back Callum Atkinson into the second row, will be without hooker Johnny Matthews whose impressive efforts in the first half of the season have been recognised with a call up to the Edinburgh Rugby squad preparing for next week’s trip to South Africa.
Watsonians will be looking to build on recent improved form when they travel to face Glasgow Hawks. Sonians coach Steve Lawrie has named talented youngster Gregor Nelson in the back row, with another emerging duo, Finn Hobbis and Kieran Watt, starting on the bench for the Capital side who will be looking to avenge a league defeat earlier in the campaign.
The Cup action kicks-off tonight with two ties, one of which is a potentially tasty encounter at Millbrae where Currie Chieftains will be in action against Ayr. The Malleny Park side will be without the injured Harvey Elms and lock Vince Wright, who is on international duty with the Netherlands.