No room for sentiment as top two prepare to clash

Melrose vs Gala RFC.  Euan Dods of Gala gets tackled.
Melrose vs Gala RFC. Euan Dods of Gala gets tackled.

To be one of the top two rugby teams in Scotland is a great achievement in itself, but on Saturday it’s the summit of the Premiership that Gala and Melrose will be aiming for.

Gala currently hold the position with a one-point lead and a game in hand over their close rivals from the Greenyards, but Melrose coach John Dalziel reckons the title is still there for the taking and that his team won’t rest until they have done everything in their power to do so.

“After leading the championship for so long we now find ourselves chasing Gala,” he told The Southern.

“We know that a win is required to ignite the title race again.

“Our players have prepared as well as possible and are ready for the challenge.

“We are under no illusions of what is required if we are to beat Gala on their own patch, but this motivates the players who know all to well what is at stake.”

The teams have already met twice this season with Melrose edging a league victory at the Greenyards in September and Gala taking the honours in the Boxing Day friendly. The Maroons are at the top of the table for a reason, however, and, with home advantage, go into Saturday’s match as favourites.

Gala coach George Graham is taking nothing for granted.

“Our boys will be up for it, but know it will be a hard game,”he said. “We will prepare well this week and concentrate on specifics.”

Melrose are at full fitness and may also have the use of some pro players while Gala could see the return of injured duo Euan Dods (pictured) and David Marshall.

Dalziel concluded: “To have two Border clubs at the top of Scottish rugby is a great advert for our area.

“Sentiment, however, will be out the window come Saturday with both teams committing to a full-blown derby.

“It promises to be another ding-dong battle between two very good sides, so who dares wins.”

z For all other weekend fixtures go to page 72.

z Gala and Melrose have drawn home ties for their quarter-final games in the RBS Cup on Saturday, February 15. Draw: Gala v Stirling County; Melrose v Heriot’s; Ayr v Glasgow Hawks; Edinburgh Accies v Aberdeen Grammar.