Heriot’s coach Phil Smith is urging his all-conquering team – five bonus-point wins in a row – to feed off the buzz he feels will be created by Scotland squad call-up Hugh Blake turning out for Melrose at Goldenacre tomorrow.
Victory would guarantee Heriot’s a home semi-final when the play-offs are introduced in late March, but Smith acknowledges their task could be made more difficult by the allocation to Melrose of Blake, pictured below, who is using the Premiership to gain match sharpness after failing to be registered for Edinburgh’s European campaign due to injury.
By contrast, other Edinburgh pros are off limits to clubs tomorrow but Smith, whose side has been regular beneficiaries of the draft like many others, said: “With Hugh Blake getting another opportunity to show his wares before joining up with the Scotland squad, I am sure the interest in this game will increase.
“I also hope this will further incentivise our players to show off the club game in front of some of the Scotland management team.”
The absence of pros Jamie Ritchie and Glenn Bryce means call-ups for Danny Levison and Harry Boisseau. Melrose coach John Dalziel said of the inclusion of Blake: “This shows good faith and belief by the national coaches in the standard of our BT Premiership.”
Edinburgh Accies coach Phil Leck has described his team’s home clash with Glasgow Hawks as a “dog fight” after Boroughmuir’s win at Ayr last weekend consigned them to the bottom two places. He said: “We narrowly lost to the last kick over in Glasgow in October so we are hoping to overturn that result with not only less naivety on our part, but less naivety on the part of the officials.”
That was a reference to a decisive penalty decision about which Leck said at the time: “I couldn’t see why that went against us. Both front rows stood up in the scrum, in which we had been dominant. It was hard to take.”
Hawks coach Peter Laverie is wary of a new threat in the Accies side.
He said: “They have found a kicker in Calum Ramm, [Nyle] Godsmark always poses a threat and they have plenty of experience in their side to keep them going forward.”
Boroughmuir await Gala as they bid to build on last weekend’s win at Ayr and both Sep Visser and Chris Laidlaw return to the back line after injury.
Forwards Magnus Bradbury and Angus Wallace are on the bench alongside Dan O’Connell, a long-term absentee due to injury.
Meanwhile, Currie coach Ben Cairns is putting strong emphasis on more clinical finishing as his side awaits Ayr.
“James Downey comes into the centre with Fidias Efthymiou injured and fellow Glasgow-pro Tom Ryder also comes straight into the team with Charlie McLean the unfortunate one to be left out of the squad.
“Travis Brooke comes in at blindside flanker while Mike Vernel moves to the bench,” said Cairns whose side have lost their last two outings to Heriot’s.