BT Premiership round-up: Hawick aim for 5 straight
The Greens, though, know it will be tough at Millbrae. Calum Forrester’s side have put together some polished performances themselves in the first eight weeks of the season and have scored over 250 points in the process.
Hawick had a mixed start to the campaign. They lost to Melrose, Gala and Heriot’s in three of the first four weeks, but since then have bounced back with victories over Currie, Selkirk, Boroughmuir and Glasgow Hawks.
With the top flight reaching the halfway point today, the battle for the fourth play-off spot looks as tight as it was in 2014/15.
Indeed, the fight for all four spots looks a lot tighter this time, with Hawick sitting in fourth.
Hawick head coach Nikki Walker makes two changes for their trip to Ayr. The experienced Matt Landels comes in at prop after Nicky Little suffered a head knock seven days ago and John Coutts starts on the wing. Terry Skeet could also make his debut off the bench.
Walker said: “Ayr are very much on top of their game at the moment and it will be a tough challenge at Millbrae.
“However, we can take belief from our recent performances and we won there last year, so it should be another entertaining tussle.”
Ayr are missing hooker James Malcolm on Glasgow Warriors duty, withLewis Anderson starting in the No 2 jersey.
Jack Preston will start at scrum-half and Danny McCluskey is back at inside centre.
Second-placed Heriot’s, who drew with Gala seven days ago, are on the road to much-improved Stirling County.
Heriot’s are boosted for the Bridgehaugh encounter by the return of key men Michael Liness, Russell Nimmo and Cammy Ferguson.
Josh Laird also gets a start on the wing, while Gregor McNeish is back at stand-off.
Stirling County, for the second week running, are strengthened by the presence of two Glasgow Warriors, this time in Hugh Blake and Fraser Lyle.
Young Patrick Nicol keeps his place at scrum-half.
Melrose will be looking to return to winning ways against bottom side Selkirk.
The home team have prop Jamie Bhatti back, while Murdo McAndrew, who was on the Edinburgh Rugby bench recently, starts at scrum-half.
Fifth plays sixth as Glasgow Hawks host Boroughmuir, with both teams having lost last week.
Young prospect Matt Smith is back in the back row for Hawks at Old Anniesland while they have Scotland cap Tyrone Homes on the bench.
David Reekie is in at centre for Boroughmuir, with Greg Cannie injured.
Gala host Currie at Netherdale with Andy McLean coming in for the unavailable Sam Beard for the Borderers at centre.
Currie defeated Melrose last week and they have Scotland cap Mike Cusack available from Glasgow Warriors and he starts in the front row.