Best of British and Irish as Gala take up challenge

07/10/13    'MURRAYFIELD - EDINBURGH'Ayr's Andy Dunlop (left) joins Stirling County's Jamie Swanson (2nd from left), Gala's Chris Auld (2nd from right) and Edinburgh Accies' Alex Blair as they launch the British & Irish Cup

07/10/13 'MURRAYFIELD - EDINBURGH'Ayr's Andy Dunlop (left) joins Stirling County's Jamie Swanson (2nd from left), Gala's Chris Auld (2nd from right) and Edinburgh Accies' Alex Blair as they launch the British & Irish Cup

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Gala will have another chance to try their hand against teams from neighbouring home nations when the British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend.

In its first four years the tournament has reaped a wealth of benefits for the competing clubs, be it more fans coming along on a Saturday or a player being signed after a strong performance against a professional outfit.

The Maroons are at home on Saturday, hosting Aberavon at Netherdale in an evening fixture (7pm) to allow people from all Borders clubs to go along and support them.

Earlier this week representatives from the club joined fellow Scottish outfits Edinburgh Accies, Ayr and Stirling County at Murrayfield to launch the 2013/14 campaign.

Gala centre Chris Auld said: “It was a really good experience for us playing in this competition last year. You’re playing against players who are conditioned a step up and you realise you have to play to 100 per cent – there is no room for being sluggish. We had Lee Millar last year, who stepped up to the plate against London Scottish and he ended up earning a contract with them.”

Earlier in the day, fellow Borders Premiership outfit Melrose have a chance to increase the gap at the top of the table when Aberdeen pay a visit and coach John Dalziel said: “The overall performance last weekend wasn’t brilliant and we have a lot to work on.”

At the other end of the table, Hawick are looking for upward mobility.

Club secretary, and part-time match reporter, John Thorburn told The Southern: “There is an obvious gap appearing in the Premiership with the top four clubs.

“The Greens, currently second bottom, are capable of beating any of the other six clubs and they will be keen to get last Saturday’s defeat out of their system with a home match against bottom club Currie at Mansfield Park this weekend.”

In the National League, all three Borders clubs are in the upper half of the table and the mission is to keep in touch with high-flying leaders Boroughmuir and Watsonians.

This weekend, Kelso are at home to Stewart’s/Melville FP, while Selkirk and Peebles travel to play Hillhead Jordanhill and Dundee respectively.