Eighteen-year-old prospect Lewis Carmichael makes his first league start for RBS Premiership second-placed side Melrose as they host Edinburgh Accies this afternoon at the Greenyards.
The former North Berwick High School pupil impressed John Dalziel last week in the RBS Border Regional Cup win over Selkirk and the head coach has shown this term he is not scared to give youngsters their chance if they do well.
The likes of Ruaridh Knott, Ben Chalmers and David Colvine have all appeared in the top team in recent weeks and Carmichael, who played for Scotland Under-18s earlier in the year, lines up in the second-row for the hosts.
Dalziel explained: “We have picked an experienced side with impressive youngster Lewis Carmichael fully deserving his first league start.
“After a couple of competitive Border derbies it’s nice to get back into Premiership action. The league is at a critical stage both top and bottom with all teams looking for vital wins.
“The players have needed no encouragement this week and we are all looking forward to what promises to be another very physical encounter.”
Back in September, Accies defeated Melrose 29-21 at Raeburn Place and today they travel to the Borders looking forward to getting back to their ‘bread and butter’ after a couple of tough weeks in the British & Irish Cup.
Leaders Gala are at Hawick for a Borders derby. The Maroons make the short journey to Mansfield Park on the back of a much-improved showing against Bristol last weekend while they have five members of the Scotland club international training squad starting.
They are Rory Sutherland, Gary and George Graham, Chris Auld and Grant Somerville while Hawick have two in the shape of hooker Lindsey Gibson and scrum-half Greg Cottrell.
Scotland cap Nikki Walker will be playing on the wing for Hawick, meaning that he will be turning out against the side he played for just seven days ago in the B&I Cup
Hawick head coach, Phil Leck, said: “We are selecting from an injury-hit squad, but looking to continue our progress as we have the return of Gary Johnstone and Nikki Walker to look forward to.”
Third-placed Heriot’s host Currie at Goldenacre. Having edged out Boroughmuir in the RBS Edinburgh Regional Cup semis last week, the hosts are boosted by the inclusion of Edinburgh’s Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Sean Kennedy and Scotland Sevens’ man Michael Maltman.
Their head coach Phil Smith said: “It will be good to get back to the intensity of the Premiership. With Currie now building momentum it will be key for us to start well and be prepared for an 80-minute battle as both teams will be desperate for the win.”
Currie are on a good run, having won their last three league games and progressed to the RBS Edinburgh Regional Cup final last week. They have Ethan Pollock coming onto the wing in place of Malcolm Peacock.
Currie head coach Ally Donaldson said: “Heriot’s win against us at Malleny Park earlier this year was a very impressive performance and we will have to be at our very best just to be competitive.”
Ayr have seen their title hopes fade away with three league losses on the trot to leave them 12 points behind Gala.
Today they host Aberdeen Grammar at Millbrae with Dean Kelbrick returning to the centre. Grammar travel having lost their last three league matches, too, to sit in eighth.
Finally Glasgow Hawks host Stirling County at Old Anniesland with Scott Wight, the Glasgow Warriors’ man, starting at stand-off for the home team.