Heriot’s coach Phil Smith is hoping the efforts of committee members will pay dividends tomorrow in the form of a large crowd for the latest episode of the Capital’s oldest rivalry as Watsonians visit.
The 3pm kick-off heralds the second half of the BT Premiership regular season and there should be a carnival atmosphere with veteran sides from both clubs taking to the pitch at 11.45am, followed by a sold-out lunch and rugby activities to keep kids amused as well as a dance exhibition.
However, the main focus will be on the clash between two in-form sides.
Smith, who felt his men had switched off at half-time against Stirling County last week, has limited the changes in personnel. Up front, he calls up Rhuaridh Mitchell and Struan Dewar to replace the unavailable Struan Cessford and Cornell Du Preez but names an unchanged back division.
“We have shown some improvement in some areas of our game in recent weeks, and this has created a nice momentum going into this fixture,” said Smith. “However, we are still having to work hard to create the sort of opportunities to win games,”
Sonians showed great character in building a half-time lead against Ayr, surrendering it then snatching victory in the final minute to sit sixth in the table, three points off a top-four berth.
Coach Marcus Di Rollo would no doubt prefer to avoid such a tense finale this time around, but wants his men to carry on where they left off last Saturday.
“After a great win against Ayr, we need to keep momentum going. We have no doubts how tough a game this will be against our local rivals,” he said.
Di Rollo lists Kenny Beattie to replace injury victim Diarmaid Dee at flanker, and welcomes back Scott McLeod in place of Mark Bertram on the wing.
Another team that has struck form at a crucial moment is Currie, whose tense victory away to Glasgow Hawks last week edged them into fifth spot. With three home wins in succession under their belts, Ben Cairns’ men will go into tomorrow’s assignment at home to Ayr brimming with self-belief.
“The boys have understandably taken a lot of confidence from recent performances and last week’s in particular. It was great to see them fight to the death and get their just rewards for that belief,” said Cairns, who is seeing strong competition for places.
He has Matt McPhillips at stand-off for the injured Jamie Forbes and recalls Thomas Gordon in place of Scott McGinley who drops to the bench.
“Ayr will pose a formidable threat to the home record we have started to build and we will have to go up a gear again if we are to maintain our unbeaten run at Malleny. They will be hurting after their loss to Watsonians with the last kick of the game and we know they will come well prepared in a bid to stop our momentum,” added Cairns.
Elsewhere, Boroughmuir will be desperate to take something from the visit of table-toppers Melrose.
Muir have shown that they have the game to trouble any other side in the league, but have struggled to convert stylish rugby into wins and occupy the second-bottom rung in the table after losing to Gala.
“We were bitterly disappointed with our performance at times last week,” said coach Peter Wright who makes four changes. “We did a huge number of good things then ,through a number of unforced errors, shot ourselves in the foot.”