Edinburgh Accies stand on the brink of their first
hat-trick of victories in Scottish club rugby’s top flight since September 2009 when they visit Gala tomorrow.
And Scotland Under-20 hooker Michael Liness admits he would not worry unduly if the margin was as tight as last year when a 6-5 victory was only secured when a late touchline conversion sailed wide.
“That was a game where we were under so much pressure near our line in the final moments that the referee had warned us that if the scrum collapsed he’d be awarding a penalty try,” said Liness who was speaking at the launch of a new club sponsorship from silversmiths Hamilton & Inches which will also benefit the SkillForce educational charity.
“In the event Gala heeled the ball to score in the corner and all we could do was hold our breath while the conversion was taken.”
When the teams met at Raeburn Place earlier this season the margin was 29-27 in favour of Gala and another close encounter seems assured.
But Liness, who represented Scotland Under-20s against Tonga and Argentina at the World Cup in Italy last year, now knows what is required to add to the scalps of Boroughmuir and Currie over the past fortnight.
“In the first half of this season we didn’t front up in the scrum against Gala and that made it a struggle.
“If you are not going forward in scrums it is very hard but since that last Gala match Alex Allan has come in and we’ll travel well aware that if you take Gala on up front you are in with a shout.”
Accies twice came from behind to beat Currie last week.
“Currie seemed to step off in the second half and it helped us that Greg Campbell is having a stormer of a season at second row while Dan Teague is the most aggressive player I have seen with ball in hand.
“Even when Dan is playing badly he is still playing well by other people’s standards and I’m just so glad he is on my team as I’d hate to have to tackle him.”
Liness has started eight of Accies first ten games and tomorrow will come off the bench at some stage to replace current Under-20 prospect Calum Black.
“This is a match where we will really find out a lot about ourselves as a team,” he added.
Understandably coach Simon Cross stands by the team which finished the win over Currie last week with both Alex Blair and Andrew Findlater out injured.
Euan Bonner gets his first start at stand off with his brother, Ruairidh, moving to centre while Tom Hancock takes over on the flank from Hamish Watson who is with Edinburgh Rugby.
Included on the bench for the first time is Cameron Simpson.
With automatic relegation for one team and the second bottom outfit facing a play-off to preserve top status, Boroughmuir have a chance to move out of the basement by leapfrogging third-bottom Aberdeen at Meggetland.
Boroughmuir’s Keith Buchan moves to outside centre with Malcolm Clapperton unavailable and Mark Hare starts at inside centre.
Greg Jones gets a run at hooker where Mike Brown, returning from injury, is on the bench alongside Sep Visser who has been released by Edinburgh. Aberdeen’s only change is the return of scrum half Morgan Ward.
It is the last weekend before a break for cup ties and if Currie want to regain momentum they will have to see off champions Melrose at Malleny Park with a side that has Jamie Forbes switching from full back to stand off where Andrew Binikos is injured.
Back from sevens duty is winger Liam Draycott.
Heriot’s are also looking to bounce back from defeat when they visit Stirling County with a recast side.
Notably, captain Graham Wilson returns to scrum half after five successive outings at stand off in a move that sees Ruairidh Carmichael switch from centre.
Introduced at centre for his first run of the season is clubs’ international Cammy Ferguson alongside recalled winger Nick Alston. Up front there is a first start on the flank for Joe Naya.
Coach Phil Smith said: “Five minutes of poor defending was the only reason for the defeat last week against Gala. Stirling are going well after an away win at Melrose.”
Stirling’s only change is at flanker where Sean McDonald comes in for the injured Tim Clarke.
In the National League leaders Watsonians aim to make it ten-in-a-row when they visit Jed-Forest.
Rotation means that, compared with the side which staged a comeback to overhaul Glasgow Hawks, there are new front and back rows featuring Danny Moussa, Tom Wright and Marcus Heather up front and Niall Dennis, Chris Scott and Joe Jones as breakaways.
Stewart’s Melville are at Hillhead/Jordanhill.