Border Cup rugby comes down to the business end this weekend and, barring a massive upset at the Greenyards, Melrose more or less have a Scottish Cup quarter-final place in the bag.
National League side Peebles are the ones who have the daunting task of pulling the Premiership challengers down to earth and, even then, Hawick would need to do a pretty high-scoring demolition job on Selkirk to make any difference to the final outcome.
Such is the way of Border derbies, however, that no-one is counting their chickens ahead of the games and Melrose director of rugby Mike Dalgetty said: “Saturday sees our final RBS Regional Cup tie against Peebles, a club that have never won against us at first team level, so I’m sure our players have no intention of being the first to break that run.
“Our objective is clear, we need a decent performance to be absolutely certain of being in the last eight of the cup.”
Dalgetty also praised younger members of the squad who have made the step-up for some of the cup games.
“For young men who are inexperienced in terms of senior rugby they have not only taken every opportunity offered, but physically imposed themselves on the game – very impressive,” he added.
Melrose will certainly be up for a celebration on Saturday with three of their players celebrating birthdays on the 11th. Damian Hoyland, James Head and Austin Lockington will all be in party mode.
Meanwhile Hawick will be looking to raise their game when hosting Selkirk at Mansfield Park. Phil Leck’s side were run close by Peebles last week and are eager to get on a firmer footing before resuming their Premiership campaign. Also in the cup Kelso welcome Jed-Forest to Poynder Park. At Netherdale, Gala are back on British and Irish Cup duties and will be looking to improve on their 86-8 defeat against Leeds Carnegie back in October.
George Graham’s men have yet to record a victory in this year’s competition, but the Gala coach still believes there are benefits to playing against the professional teams.
“It’s a great stage to play on and the things we learn from this we will take into the Premiership,” he said.