A TRIO of rugby clubs will set off for Murrayfield on Saturday with one aim in mind – to show the rest of Scotland that Borders rugby is still very much alive and kicking.
Melrose will look to blow away Ayr and gain revenge in a rematch of last season’s Premier Cup final; confirmed National Two champions Hawick YM have earned the chance to take on Shield holders and recently-crowned National One champions Lasswade. And East League One leaders Duns will clash with West League counterparts Strathendrick in the first tie of the day, the Regional Bowl.
Leading the raiding party from the Borders will be Scott Wight (Melrose), Billy Lilly (YM) and Dale Robertson (Duns) – and all three have great expectations for Saturday’s showdowns.
Speaking to TheSouthern this week, Wight said: “There’s just a massive buzz at the club at the moment and we’re hopeful that will continue.
“Ayr beat us (20-17) at Millbrae back in August and since then both sides have been playing in the British and Irish Cup. That has made a huge difference – our physicality and game management has totally changed. Ayr will have that too, but we will be looking to take our revenge.
“I haven’t stopped smiling since winning the Sevens at the weekend (see page 25) and I hope that will still be the case on Saturday.”
Having last appeared in a final at Murrayfield in 2004, Hawick YM’s Lilly, 33, is delighted to be making another trip up the A7.
He told us: “I never thought I would have the chance to play another Murrayfield final in my lifetime. The boys have being playing well all season and they deserve it, and as far as I’m concerned being captain makes it all the sweeter.
“We don’t fear anything about Lasswade at all. We played them last year and beat them, and from what we know they haven’t changed much, so we are pretty confident. Our support has been great all season and it will be great to have them behind us at Murrayfield. Hopefully, all the Borders teams and supporters up there can stick together and really get behind one another to make it a really great day.”
For Duns, memories of finals day are a bit fresher.
Robertson added: “Most of the boys were up there two years ago and two of them were there in 1999, so we have a bit experience.
“We played Lenzie in the semi-finals and they are in the same league as Strathendrick.
“They have played each other twice in the league with Lenzie winning one 7-0 and Strathendrick the other 3-0, so they must be quite evenly matched.
“We beat Lenzie 31-12 so we know we can make a game of it.
“Being on first is good in one way, as we will have complete use of the facilities as no other teams will be there yet. The downside is that we will be in the bar first, but I’m sure we’ll cope.”
Travel & Tickets
Melrose – Bus leaves Melrose RFC 1pm (bacon rolls and beverages available at club from 11.30am onwards). Tickets for the game and seats on the bus can be bought from the club office (01896 822993) today 9.30am-12.30pm and 6.30pm-9pm, and tomorrow 9.30am-12.30pm.
A party night will be held at the Greenyards on Saturday night regardless of the result.
Hawick YM – Bus leaves Hawick Common Haugh at 10.30am. Tickets for the game and seats on the bus can be bought from Key Stores (Brian Smail’s newsagents), High Street, Hawick.
Duns – Bus leaves from the Newtown Street clubrooms at 10am. Tickets for game and seats on the bus can be purchased from club treasurer Shirley McCraw on 01361 884141.