Play-off battles continue in bottleneck Premiership

Mikey McKee and Gary Johnstone put in a big tackle
Mikey McKee and Gary Johnstone put in a big tackle

It’s mid-March and, while the BT Premiership’s number one team is not in doubt, the bottleneck behind is tighter than it has been all season.

Heriot’s have sat at the summit of the Premiership table for a remarkable 12 consecutive weeks and are guaranteed a home semi-final tie in the opening round of the inaugural play-off series, but the remaining three places and their order are still up for grabs with five teams all vying for a prized spot.

“It is funny how after a long, hard season it has come down to the final game to sort out the top four,” said Melrose head coach, John Dalziel, whose team will now have to wait until either March 21 or 27 for the visit of third-placed Ayr due to an international player dispensation request from the Greenyards outfit.

“We hold a two-point lead over Ayr after they earned a losing bonus point in their game in hand against Currie last weekend, so a win guarantees us a home semi tie against them again in the play-offs.

“It has been a difficult second half to the season, but I am confident that the squad are in good shape and ready to have a real go at making another run at the league title.”

In the other two Premiership matches with play-off place implications, Gala face a tricky test against Heriot’s at Goldenacre, while Hawick mount their final charge for a top-four place against Boroughmuir at Meggetland.

Both matches take place on Saturday.

Greens vice-captain, Bruce McNeil, admitted Saturday’s fixture will have a dress-rehearsal feel to it as the two will face-off on April 18 in the cup final, but remains focused on securing that fourth place which would cap a remarkable season which had begun with thoughts of another relegation battle.

“’Muir are a good side and it will have the feel of a trial to it before we play them for the cup in five weeks’ time.

“We will still be going out there looking for victory as we are still in with a chance at a possible top four place.

“Another victory on Saturday with a few results going our way would cap a great couple of weeks for the club and our supporters.”