Borders players turn out for Club and country
Melrose head coach Rob Chrystie has surrounded himself with Greenyards team mates once more '“ plus a sprinkling of other Borders players '“ in his capacity as head coach for Scotland's Club XV internationals.
He has made two changes to his starting team to play Ireland Club XV tomorrow (Friday) at Netherdale, Galashiels (kick-off 7.30pm).
The sides will compete for the Dalriada Cup, which was first introduced in 2011.
The Melrose contingent includes Fraser Thomson, as skipper, George Taylor, Craig Jackson, Russell Anderson and Iain Moody, with Nick Beavon and Murdo McAndrew on the bench, while Shawn Muir of Hawick is also in the starting line-up.
The last two occasions have seen the men in dark blue lift the silverware – 2015 at Netherdale and 2016 at Temple Hill in Ireland.
Their Irish counterparts take a three-point lead into the aggregate decider at Galashiels, as the last encounter saw the Irishmen narrowly claim victory in the final moments of the game at Dubarry Park two weeks ago by 26-23.
Back-row forward Thomas Gordon comes into the team to start on the openside flank, while Jack Turley moves to number 8 to replace the injured Pete McCallum.
George Taylor will start in the centre in place of Robbie Nelson, who drops to the bench, and Jamie Forbes joins the squad among the replacements, while forwards Jonathan Matthews and Hamish Bain could debut if called upon from the bench.
Steven Longwell and Shawn Muir pack down at prop, and Russell Anderson completing the front row at hooker.
Iain Moody once again links up with Robert McAlpine in the engine room, while Blair MacPherson combines with Gordon and Turley in the back row.
Charlie Shiel and Craig Jackson will pull the strings again through their effective half-back partnership and will feature alongside Taylor and the experienced Ross Curle in the midfield.
In the back three, captain Fraser Thomson. of Melrose – who scored two tries against the Irish a fortnight ago – retains the full-back spot, with Jordan Edmunds and Craig Gossman on the wings.
Chrystie said: “I think the Irish side were really sharp in the last game and their back three worked really well together. We need to identify opportunities quickly and we need to have the ability to execute those chances as well.
“We will be looking to play with a quicker pace and we will try to put them under a lot more pressure. Hopefully, we will have a good home crowd at Netherdale to support all the club players who are representing their country.”
Scotland Club XV team: 15 Fraser Thomson (captain, Melrose), 14 Jordan Edmunds (Boroughmuir), 13 Ross Curle (Stirling County), 12 George Taylor (Melrose), 11 Craig Gossman (Ayr), 10 Craig Jackson (Melrose), 9 Charlie Shiel (Currie Chieftains), 1 Shawn Muir (Hawick), 2 Russell Anderson (Melrose), 3 Steven Longwell (Ayr), 4 Iain Moody (Melrose), 5 Robert McAlpine (Ayr), 6 Blair MacPherson (Ayr), 7 Thomas Gordon (Currie Chieftains), 8 Jack Turley (Heriot’s). Replacements: 16 Jonathan Matthews (Boroughmuir), 17 Nick Beavon (Melrose), 18 Struan Cessford (Heriot’s), 19 Hamish Bain (Currie Chieftains), 20 Ruairidh Leishman (Stirling County), 21 Murdo McAndrew (Melrose), 22 Jamie Forbes (Currie Chieftains), 23 Robbie Nelson (Currie Chieftains).