EDINBURGH Accies will bid to halt Melrose’s 100 per cent start to the RBS Premiership season at Raeburn Place today with one of their leading figures insisting that his side has nothing to lose.
Accies have been one of the form sides so far with wins over Glasgow Hawks, Aberdeen Grammar and Currie, with fine, but nerve-jangling last quarters leading to narrow triumphs. Their loss to Hawick at home still niggles and is what keeps them in third spot, six points behind their table-topping opposition this afternoon.
But, back from a broken toe that kept him out of the first three games, centre Iain Berthinussen is confident that his side has the ability to threaten ‘Rose and reduce that gap this weekend. “I have said to the boys this week that I don’t think we have anything to lose because Melrose are flying and everyone will fancy them to beat us,” he said.
“But we believe that we are one of the fittest teams in the league and what you have seen from us in the first few weeks is a real never-say-side attitude that we built up under Simon Cross and have continued with Jonny Else. Jonny has come in and the change from Simon going has been seamless, with Roddy Grant coming in and helping with coaching too.
“There was probably some nervousness in the summer about the change and going into the unknown a bit, but it has worked out well and the guys are enjoying their rugby.”
The 30-year-old admitted he still relished games with Melrose having grown up in Galashiels and followed his father Jock into the Maroons 1st XV. He left for a couple of years in Australia and, on returning to Scotland, moved to Edinburgh and followed his brother John to Accies.
Now 30, he is still a rugby development officer with Broughton, Accies and Trinity Accies (BATs), working with schools and clubs to strengthen the youth game. He has enjoyed guiding young players through the ranks in the city, and watching some go on to pro rugby, but admits he missed playing at the start of the season.
“It’s great to be back,” he said. “It’s funny, I’ve been here for about six years now, but you still have that ‘Gala’ in you and so Melrose are a team you really want to beat. We’ve had John Houston involved this week as well and we had a laugh about the Hawick-Gala-Melrose rivalries, but the boys here at Accies also look forward to this game.
“Melrose have done really well and are deservedly top with four wins from four. They have good coaches and players. But if we get everything right, and it’s a big if, we know we can compete with any team in this league.
“We beat Melrose at the Greenyards in February and we don’t fear anybody. We’re looking forward to keeping our good run going, but it will probably be close again.”
Ayr head north to an Aberdeen side including Scotland prop Moray Low, needing to right their ship after defeat at Heriot’s, while form side Heriot’s are at Currie for a 4pm kick-off as some Currie players and coach Ally Donaldson are attending the funeral and memorial service to their late George Watson’s College colleague Iain Brown earlier in the day.
The big game in the Borders is at Netherdale where Gala and Hawick are both eager to bounce back from dropping points. Stirling County host Glasgow Hawks with Glasgow trio Peter Murchie, Gabriel Ascarate and Duncan Weir aiding them.