Nagle back in the pack to boost Melrose title hopes

Andrew Nagle: Returns to the Melrose side after injury. Picture: Toby Williams
Andrew Nagle: Returns to the Melrose side after injury. Picture: Toby Williams
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RBS Premiership leaders Melrose welcome back influential No 8 Andrew Nagle to the starting line-up for the first time this season as they prepare to take on Aberdeen Grammar at the Greenyards this afternoon.

With the British & Irish Cup starting today there are just three top-flight matches taking place, but all have significance.

Twenty-one-year-old former Jed-Forest player Nagle, who has previously played for Scotland under-20 and the club international side, has missed the first seven matches of the campaign through injury.

He has watched on from the sidelines as Melrose have won six and drawn one so far and his return to full fitness sees skipper Graeme Dodds move from No 8 into the second-row.

The last time Grammar travelled to the Greenyards was back in April when the home side had to fight back from 27-10 down to go on and win 32-27.

Melrose head coach John Dalziel expects another tough match today and said: “Aberdeen are a very big physical side with key players throughout their squad and they have been improving week on week.

“They will take great confidence from last weekend, where they will feel they should have beaten Heriot’s away from home.

“The last two weeks, however, have highlighted the desire and attitude of our players, having to work so hard to gain a strong win against Gala and come from behind to secure a late bonus point win against Stirling last weekend.”

Grammar make the long trip sitting in seventh have won just two matches so far.

However, within their camp they feel they should have beaten Heriot’s last time out had they not shown ill-discipline and suffered a red and a number of yellow cards.

They have Glasgow Warriors’ duo Gordon Reid and Byron McGuigan in the starting XV and head coach Kevin Wyness said: “Melrose will be a very hard side to get anything from, but the team and coaches enjoy visiting the Greenyards and are certainly looking forward to another chance to take on a top of the table side.”

Heriot’s are in third and they travel to Old Anniesland to take on a buoyant Glasgow Hawks side who scored 48 points against Currie last time out.

Influential winger Colin Goudie is back for the visitors while Keith Buchan, the Scotland under-20 cap, wears the 12 jersey vacated by Cammy Ferguson, who is taking medical exams.

Hawks have named an exciting looking backline and it will be interesting to see how former Strathallan School pupil and Scotland under-18 prop Zander Fagerson does should he get his top-team chance from the bench.

The bottom two meet at Mansfield Park with Hawick welcoming Currie to the Borders.

Both sides leaked points last week and will have been working hard on their defence in training this week.

Currie are currently five points behind the Greens and know that, if the gap widens any more, it will be hard for them to escape bottom spot, which makes for an intriguing encounter.