Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie is relishing the opportunity to pit his wits against former colleague Phil Smith when the Myreside men host Heriot’s under the floodlights in tonight’s BT Premiership clash (kick-off 7.30pm).
Lawrie was Smith’s assistant at Heriot’s before crossing the Capital to take charge at Sonians this season. After suffering heavy defeats in each of his first two matches in charge, he has led the side to a win over Stirling County and a draw with Marr.
However, on each of those occasions, his team showed up well only in patches, and he wants them to raise their game tonight, warning that anything less than an 80-minute performance will not be enough for the victory he craves over his former club.
“The squad have reflected on what might have been against Marr and we accept that we need to show a more clinical edge when we create scoring opportunities,” said Lawrie who does not have professionals Jamie Farndale and Glenn Bryce this week and has lost hooker Sean Crombie to injury.
Lawrie is confident that his side can match the visitors but expects a tough evening, adding: “With Heriot’s now fully hitting their strides over the past two weeks and with the return of the talismanic Jack Turley, we look forward to testing ourselves against one of the form teams in the competition.”
The visitors will be buoyed by a 12-try hammering of Hawick last week. Coach Smith had predicted that such a showing was brewing as his group continues to gel as a unit. Victory moved Heriot’s to fourth spot in the table. The only starting change tonight sees Turley replace unavailable Michael Maltman, with Clarke Smith moving onto the bench.
“With Watsonians coming into form at the same time as us, it is really setting up to be a very competitive local derby”, said Smith.
“They have a strong set piece that has applied pressure in all fixtures so far, and look to be settling into a group that will be competitive. This means all areas of our game will be tested and we can’t afford an off night in any area of our game.”
Tomorrow sees Boroughmuir bid to open their account for the season at home to Marr (3pm). The Meggetland men have flattered to deceive in the opening weeks, but coach Peter Wright retains faith in their ability to rise up the table.
Wright insists there is no panic among his players and he will be conscious that a home fixture against the top-flight newbies is an opportunity to break Muir’s duck.
That said, the Ayrshiremen have been the league’s surprise package and the home coach, who has Ciaran Whyte at stand-off in place of the injured Chris Laidlaw and welcomes Fin Field back to the club, said, “Marr will be coming to Meggetland with a huge amount of confidence after such a good start to their season, so we know that we are going to have to play well to get a result.”
Currie Chieftains are looking to bounce back from a painful loss at home to Ayr last week when they travel to face a Melrose outfit that has swept aside all comers so far and sits four points clear at the top of the table.
Chieftains coach Ben Cairns is under no illusions regarding the size of tomorrow’s task.
““With the form they are in, Melrose at The Greenyards is currently the toughest fixture in the Premiership calendar. They have had a sublime start to the season playing some fantastic rugby and with a consistency that no other team has been able to match so far.
“(But) we know that if we can produce the high performance levels we have shown in patches for bigger periods of the match then we can go toe to toe with the league leaders.”