Play-off battle serves up nice and spicy option

Euan Dods tackles Callum Anderson.Gala's
Euan Dods tackles Callum Anderson.Gala's

Gala and Melrose renew pleasantries at Netherdale on Saturday as the BT Premiership play-off race hits a critical juncture, with only two games remaining until the top four are set.

The final few weeks of a season can often be excruciating viewing, with teams obsessed about not making mistakes and often playing conservatively to preserve league positions and prevent high-scoring contests.

As a full BT Premiership schedule returns this weekend, thankfully neither Gala nor Melrose believe in tentative rugby, rather favouring an aggressive style which demands fast phase play and attacking flair.

Both Borders rivals have realistic title aspirations which Melrose head coach, John Dalziel, insists adds a bit more spice to Saturday’s fixture.

“The league this year has been very competitive, and with both ourselves and Gala in the title hunt, it makes Saturday’s contest a special one,” he told The Southern.

“Borders derbies are always big encounters and Saturday will be no different. If Gala lose then they are in danger of slipping from fourth, while if we lose we could still be caught by Ayr. It adds a bit more to the game which is already pretty spicy, so I am sure there will be no shortage of drama.”

Melrose are aiming for a fourth Premiership title in five years and Dalziel believes his side will be perfectly placed to retain their crown if they can enter the play-offs with winning momentum.

“Gala and Ayr are not going to be simple tasks, but we are targeting two wins which will make sure we have a home semi-final,” he added.

“When playing in high pressure games like play-offs it is never easy, so if you can take in momentum and confidence it could make all the difference.”

Elsewhere in the Premiership, Hawick are aiming to continue their quest for an unprecedented treble, by consigning previous head coach Phil Leck’s new team, Edinburgh Accies, to relegation at Mansfield Park.

Leaders Selkirk host Jed-Forest in National One, Kelso are at home to Marr, and Peebles travel to play Watsonians.