RBS Premiership: Murray is wary of County threat in ‘huge week four’
AFTER three weeks of RBS Premiership action, and a stunning plethora of tries, the question has quickly become ‘who can rein in Ayr?’
Ayr lead the chasing pack by three points with Melrose second on 11 and three clubs, Dundee, Gala and Stirling County all on ten points. It is early and there are still 15 weeks to go, but in a ten-team league, big gaps can prove difficult to close. But, while coach Kenny Murray was delighted to leave the Borders with four points last weekend, he is aware that neither his side nor Gala showed the kind of form that he would expectof a tavble-topping team.
County visit Millbrae today to take up the challenge of pulling Ayr back into the pack. Murray said: “Last week’s win was an excellent result for us and although we didn’t perform as well as we had hoped, we were happy to get an away win against a good Gala side.
“We are eager to maintain our winning record and stay ahead of the chasing pack and although it’s early in the season we realise that one loss could see us fall in to a mid-table position.
“The results in the league so far have been extremely tight and I think that demonstrates the overall quality from top to bottom. Week four is a huge week for the league with some teams desperate for points and others keen to maintain their winning momentum.
“Stirling County have had a solid start and will be a massive challenge for us. They have a very effective back line that has been helped by Glasgow pros in the past few weeks. It will be crucial that we dominate the forward battle and limit the ball that these guys will crave.
“County were one of the stand-out teams last season and with Henry Edwards now involved they will be even more difficult to beat.”
Stirling head coach Graeme Young has made five changes to his side this week, losing Adam Ashe and Troy Nathan to Glasgow duty while Rory Hughes is unavailable due to sevens commitments and Sean Kennedy is injured. The experienced back row, Steve Swindall, returns from injury, however.
“We are under no illusion of the size of this weekend’s task,” said Young. “Ayr are the form team in the league. Kenny and Pete have done an excellent job at re-building and gelling their squad and the results so far are a credit to their coaching skills.”
Young believes his team has the ability to slow the Ayr march this afternoon – but others are keen to open up the title race, too, including Currie’s Ally Donaldson, who has been delighted with the way Currie are stretching opposition sides and running in tries. He is confident of a good performance against Boroughmuir today. Highlights of the last-gasp 39-37 win against Aberdeen last weekend appear on this week’s Scotsman Rugby Show.
“As a 39-37 scoreline suggests, last week was a mixed bag,” he said. “We defended poorly at times, but played some wonderful rugby and showed great patience and strength of character to recover.
“But Boroughmuir followed a great away win at Aberdeen with a fine first half at Dundee before injuries altered the course of the match.”
Dundee are also in the mix, and after coming from behind to beat Boroughmuir at Mayfield they take on a Heriot’s side similarly buoyed by a superb late fightback and win over Melrose at the Greenyards.
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