Leaders Watsonians have been dealt a blow ahead of this afternoon’s RBS National League clash at third-placed Hawick with the news that top try-scorer Rory Steele misses out through injury.
The full-back will not be in the visitors’ ranks having sustained a foot injury in midweek, with his place being taken by Andrew Chalmers.
The latter is also an exciting talent, and ahead of the trip to Mansfield Park Watsonians head coach Marcus Di Rollo said: “It is a blow to be without Rory, but Andrew has shown in recent weeks when involved with the first team that he is an intelligent rugby player and he is just another talented youngster that we have available to us in the backs.
“We know it will be tough down there, but the guys are really excited to get back to league action after the break for the cup.”
It has been seven weeks since the last RBS National League fixtures and before the lay-off Watsonians had won ten league matches in a row and Hawick were unbeaten in seven with six wins and a draw.
As well as Chalmers’ inclusion, captain Mark Rennie and young back-rows Joe Jones and Chris Scott return to the Watsonians starting line-up from the side that lost to Edinburgh Accies in the RBS Edinburgh Regional Cup tie on Monday night.
The Hawick starting XV looks strong and, with a large home support behind them, head coach Phil Leck and his side will be keen to avenge their defeat at Myreside earlier in the campaign.
Second-placed Glasgow Hawks host eighth-placed Hamilton at Old Anniesland. When the two sides met at Laigh Bent back in September, Hawks ran out 37-25 victors and, with two exciting looking backlines on show, expect more points today. Fourth-placed Hillhead/Jordanhill travel to Selkirk looking for revenge after the Borderers won in the first fixture earlier in the season with a try in the final seconds.
At Inverleith, Stewart’s Melville and Biggar meet with the latter second bottom but having taken heart from some good performances in the RBS Edinburgh Regional Cup in recent weeks.
In the cup, they have beaten today’s opponents, Lasswade, Murrayfield Wanderers and Haddington to improve confidence.
Bottom side Jed-Forest welcome Kelso to Riverside Park in a Borders derby that the hosts need to win to kick-start their campaign.