YOUNG prospect Mark Bennett will team up with ex-Scotland Under-20 team-mate Danny Gilmour in the centre for Stirling County against Dundee HSFP this afternoon as he looks to force his way into the Glasgow Warriors’ side.
The 20-year-old joined the Warriors on loan from Clermont Auvergne last week and has been linked up with County to get some game time.
At training at Bridgehaugh this week, he was greeted by some familiar faces and will start the match outside Gilmour, alongside whom he lined up for Scotland Under-20 at the IRB Junior World Championships in Italy. As well as Bennett, Adam Ashe and Ruairidh Leishman come into the home XV for the eighth-versus-ninth tussle.
Dundee HSFP defeated Melrose two weeks ago and make a couple of changes, one of them seeing Callum Bowie getting a start on the wing.
In the other top-flight match, captain Opeta Palepoi returns to the Gala line-up as they head to Melrose for the much-anticipated Borders derby. The men from Netherdale are currently two points behind leaders Ayr, but with the Millbrae men on cup duty, the Maroons can get ahead.
Gala head coach George Graham said: “Every time Gala face Melrose there is always a sense of anticipation about which team is going to come out in front. Over the last couple of seasons there has been next to nothing separating both teams.”
As well as Palepoi’s return to the second-row, centre Alan Emond returns to the starting XV after impressing off the bench in recent weeks. Fourth-placed Melrose welcome back Warriors’ EDP player Fraser Thomson at full-back and Blair Hutchison from Loughborough University. Melrose head coach Craig Chalmers said: “Our form has been nowhere near the required level in the last month which makes Gala favourites for this match, but we are keen to get back on track.”