PREMIERSHIP rugby gets underway in the Borders again this weekend and for two local clubs the mouthwatering prospect of a championship title is dangling like the proverbial carrot, writes Fiona Scott.
But, while Gala are on a high following their successful Regional Cup and Border League campaigns during the break, league leaders Melrose will have to pick themselves up from a disappointing run when third-placed Dundee visit the Greenyards on Saturday.
Director of rugby Mike Dalgetty told TheSouthern: “It’s been a tough couple of weeks for us, but hopefully we can rekindle our form for the opening match. The boys had a good session on Tuesday night, everyone is upbeat and injury-wise things look a bit brighter.
“The game against Peebles last week served its purpose, a solid display at times, but much to work on. Ian Robertson and Callum Wilde made their debuts, although poor Callum had his time cut short by a knock to the hip. The lad has no luck at all, but his time will come, as will Ian’s, who has a great attitude.
“This weekend’s game is very important for us for very obvious reasons. Dundee are a good side, well-drilled with a big pack. They see themselves as potential champions. We need to perform well to win and would welcome a strong vocal support.”
Gala will also be looking to hold their footing at the top of the Premier A table when they travel to Rubislaw to face second-bottom Aberdeen.
In Premier B Hawick and Jed-Forest have the chance to start their campaigns with a clean slate. Both Borders sides struggled through the first half of the season and will be looking to hit the ground running with home ties against Stewart’s Melville FP and Edinburgh Accies respectively.
Hawick captain Bruce McNeil admitted recently that while other clubs had shown an interest in him he was 100 per cent focused on helping the Mansfield Park outfit avoid relegation to Premier Two.
He said: “I’m quite happy where I am just now and I’m looking forward to playing my part in helping Hawick stay in Premier One. Wins against Jed and Haddington over the break have given the club a massive boost and extra gym and fitness sessions have helped us a lot. It’s all geared towards that first game against Stew Mel and if we can keep this momentum going then it’s something to really look forward to.”
Selkirk begin their Premier C campaign at the top of the table, six points clear of their closest rivals Kelso, and both sides have the benefit of home ties this weekend. Selkirk take on Whitecraigs at Philiphaugh while Kelso have a Borders derby clash against Peebles at Poynder Park.