Patched-up Currie plan to derail Melrose
The two premier stand-offs in club rugby go head-to-head tomorrow at Malleny Park where Currie and Melrose battle for a place in the Scottish Cup Final against either Hawks, Ayr or Boroughmuir.
Professional outfits are expected to be represented to see Scott Wight, playmaker for the clubs' international side for the past three years, take on understudy Matthew Scott of Currie.
In an intriguing backdrop to what could be the match of the season so far Scott will doubtless be keen to prove a point, having been kept on the bench by Wight for the club Tests against Ireland and France.
Rival coaches Ally Donaldson and Craig Chalmers agree that the contest could go some way to determining the outcome, with Donaldson saying: "Probably Scott Wight's greatest strength is his ability to read a game but he is also a good passer and kicker."
For his part, Chalmers said: "I think Matthew could go the whole way. Maybe he still has a bit of work to do on his kicking but he is outstanding with ball in hand which is something we'll be on the look-out for.
"Scott Wight is a bit older but that shouldn't prevent him from being considered for playing at a higher level also."
Both men have developed useful insights into their rivals' strengths and weaknesses. Donaldson, pictured, is the current coach of clubs' international squad, which features a core of Melrose stars while Chalmers has, in the past, mentored Scotland under-20s when a string of Currie prospects have been coming through the ranks.
According to Chalmers, fear or failure will drive Melrose on.
"We might be top of the league and one step away from our fourth cup final in a row but we've won nothing yet. What I'm certain of is this tie can be an absolute cracker with Currie unbeaten since the split in the league season."
Melrose won 32-29 against their Capital opponents on the opening day of the season with Currie edging through 22-18 at Malleny Park. Overall, though, the biggest winning margins between the sides in the past three seasons has been a mere nine points and Donaldson expects another cliffhanger - even if several regulars will be missing.
Indeed, Currie have vowed to "use positively" a rejection by Scottish Rugby bosses of their request to consider a re-arrangement due to representative calls.
With James Johnstone and Finlay Gillies included in the Scotland squad for this weekend's IRB Sevens tournament in Hong Kong and both Tom Brown and Alun Walker on the bench for Edinburgh against Ospreys tomorrow night Currie cited precedent in requesting a re-arrangement.
Donaldson said: "We applied for dispensation and were refused. We also asked Edinburgh to use other players (as substitutes) but were told they had nobody else on their roster. The decision has been made but we can it positively in making us more determined."
Currie's selection shortcomings extend to utility back Andrew Binikos playing for Cyprus against Finland, while there will be late fitness tests on scrum half Richard Snedden and flanker Mark Cairns. Fraser Strachan and Steve Burton are standing by.
Chalmers said: "I have some sympathy with Currie's situation but when you attract players from the national academy you are at risk of losing them to sevens or pro-team call-ups.
"But Currie can be pulled together by this, so we have to concentrate even more."
An SRU spokesperson said: "Currie applied for dispensation on the basis these four players would be missing from the team.
"The Championship Committee declined based on the fact that there is no provision in the rules for dispensation regarding players taking part in Scotland sevens or pro team matches.
"Dispensation was previously given to Currie and Ayr with regard to players taking part in Club International fixtures. As agreed by all Premier 1 clubs at the start of this season, dispensation was agreed for Club International fixtures but not those relating to Scotland 7s and pro teams."
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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