BOROUGHMUIR captain Andy Rose is gearing up for what he calls “the biggest game I have been involved in during three years at the club” when Dundee High visit Meggetland tomorrow.
Muir, the current RBS Premiership basement boys, entertain the second-bottom Taysiders, who are five points ahead but have played one more game. An away win would open up clear daylight, with one team definitely relegated this season.
Adding to home concerns might be the fact that Dundee can look back on a 31-10 victory when the teams’ met at Mayfield in September.
According to Rose, though, that outcome did not reflect his team’s true abilities.
“We actually led at half-time but injuries cost us my back row colleagues Jamie Swanson and Neil Rodger, while Iain Moody, another breakaway who was playing second row that day, also went off.
“That meant a re-shuffle, with front row forwards having to show plenty pace off the side of the scrum and Ian Rankin, the Dundee coach, is too shrewd an operator not to notice. We were stretched to breaking point and eventually lost 31-10.”
The last three league defeats suffered by ’Muir have been by single-score margins and Rose believes only tweaking is required.
“What we really need to do, starting against Dundee tomorrow, is show more composure and patience in holding on to the ball. When things aren’t going you’re way, there is a tendency to force matters and that has been costly.
“However, in going down narrowly again last week in the Regional Cup to Edinburgh Accies (12-17), we were able to keep exerting pressure and that earned us a penalty try.
“That score showed we have strength up front, where Robin Hislop put in a great shift at prop, but the backs are also capable of cutting loose.”
That was certainly demonstrated in the latest league outing at home to Aberdeen, when centre Mark Hare finished off a pitch-length move sparked by Redha Guedroudj and featuring Keith Buchan as the link in what could well prove the try of the season.
The captaincy is certainly sitting comfortably with Rose, who previously led his native Zimbabwe at under-19 level against Morocco, Tunisia, Canada, USA, Chile and Tonga, but in one respect he admits to suffering from the departure of fellow Scottish clubs’ internationalist Sean Crombie to a job in the Middle East.
“Sean had such a lot of experience to offer that it was a blow when he left. In some positions we were left quite short of cover, but Mike Brown has come in (from Australia) and risen to the challenge at hooker with the line-out rapport between him and the jumpers improving.”
Scottish qualified, Rose has set the target of making the Scotland clubs’ squad again this season and with Dundee coach Rankin the team manager, that would be another reason for he and other aspirants to impress. Sep Visser has been released by Edinburgh and Guedrouda is back for Jordan Webster, while up front Iain Moody moves to lock with Jamie Swanson returning after injury at No 8. There’s also a first call to the bench for Jordan Edmunds.
Rankin echoes Rose’s view that the league is so tight wins can soon multiply and, after success against Stirling last week, the Dundee coach is able to recall the experienced Chris Cumming and Andy Dymock to the pack.
“By all accounts Boroughmuir were very unlucky not to win their cup tie against Accies last week,” says Rankin.
All the other leading Capital outfits are chasing a top four spot that would bring a British and Irish Cup place and a bonus point win at Goldenacre tomorrow could see Heriot’s leapfrog fourth-placed Melrose.
Sam Hidalgo-Clyde is at full back after previously filling both half-back slots, while Mike Penn and Ken Mackenzie make a league debut at second row. Melrose list former Heriot’s players Richard Mill and Pete Eccles in their squad.
Edinburgh Accies await Stirling County, with Matt Coupar, Alex Blair and Greg Campbell returning, while Alex Black and Alex Allan have both been made available by Edinburgh Rugby.
One of the most absorbing games of the season saw Currie defeat Aberdeen 39-37 and for the return on Deeside, Billy Elmslie fills in at hooker for the injured Fergus Scott, while Ally Hamilton is back at prop.
Aberdeen have Glasgow hooker Finlay Gillies on the bench and give a first start to second row Andrew Cramond.
On a day when Edinburgh followers are spoiled for choice, Watsonians aim to extend their long winning run at home to Stewart’s/Melville in the National League.