Watsonians have received a boost ahead of tomorrow’s Tennent’s Premiership clash with Currie Chieftains at Malleny Park (kick-off 3pm).
Skipper Craig Borthwick, who last week missed his first game for the club in two seasons, is back for a game that carries crucial league points in the race for a top-four finish.
Borthwick’s return brings added steel to the Sonians pack and sets up an intriguing confrontation. The experienced Borderer will link up with rising star Jamie Hodgson in a second row that combines youth and experience, for an head-to head with Mike Vernel and Rhys Davies.
That is one of several mouth-watering skirmishes that will define a match that has the makings of a classic encounter. Among the other tussles is one that pits two of the country’s most reliable kickers against each other in the shape of Chieftain’s stand-off Gregor Hunter against his former Gala team-mate Lee Millar.
Meanwhile, the back row offers another interesting contest likely to affect the outcome. Sonians teenager Connor Boyle will be looking to continue his impressive form, having produced a string of outstanding performances over recent weeks, capped by a try double in the win over Glasgow Hawks last Saturday.
The age-group cap features in a solid back row that faces a trio in which Marc Kelly replaces Edinburgh’s Luke Crosbie who is the only change to the team that started in the win at Heriot’s as Chieftains look to profit from home advantage.
“We go into this week with confidence having picked up our first away win of the season and our first win at Goldenacre for a long time. However, we know we can play better and have worked hard on some of the areas we felt let us down last weekend,” said coach Ben Cairns. “Malleny has been a bit of a fortress for us so far this season and we will be looking to extend our 100 per cent home record.”
His counterpart, Steve Lawrie, was largely happy with his side’s performance last Saturday but knows that anything short of a fully-focused performance will be punished by the clinical hosts.
“We need to ensure we play for the full duration,” warned Lawrie. “Currie have backs that can score from anywhere and a hardworking pack that has provided them with a strong platform.”
Those attributes were evident last time out as Chieftains left it late before seeing off Heriot’s. The defeat saw the Goldenacre men slip to fourth in the table, a point behind Chieftains and a similar margin ahead of Watsonians.
Heriot’s have another home fixture tomorrow, when Melrose are the visitors. Coach Phil Smith was frustrated by the decision making of his men rather than the quality of their performance against Chieftains, and he is looking to avoid a repeat tomorrow when he welcomes back skipper Iain Wilson for a contest that promises to be an entertaining affair.
“They are looking slightly different to last year in personnel but are still putting out some strong displays,” said Smith of the Greenyards men. “This should mean another cracking encounter between two teams with a history of playing hard, fast, attractive rugby.
Having lost at home to Ayr, Boroughmuir travel to meet Stirling County at Bridgehaugh knowing that another loss would drop them to seventh place in the league table and damage hopes of securing a top-four finish in the regular season.
“We just need to cut out the mistakes and put an 80-minute performance together. The squad know the task ahead, and have trained well this week,” said Muir coach Peter Wright who names an unchanged back division and welcomes back locks Callum Atkinson and Stuart Smith in the pack.
Meanwhile, having taken two bonus points from defeat at Hawick, Edinburgh Accies are still looking to secure a first win of the campaign when they welcome Hawks to Raeburn Place.