National One: Melrose and Highland fight to protect unbeaten records

Ayr and Heriot's head to Annay Road and Canal Park respectively with high hopes of claiming the scalps of the league's top two teams

Heriot's Blues v Cartha by Dave Urquhart
Heriot's Blues picked up a big win last weekend against Cartha Queens Park. Image: Dave Urquhart

SECOND plays third in Tennent’s National League Division One on Saturday afternoon when Highland host Heriot’s Blues at Canal Park. Elsewhere in a fascinating week five fixture list. leaders Melrose also host Ayr and fourth placed Biggar will start as favourites against winless Dundee HSFP.

Highland are four from four so far this season, and while head coach Dave Carson was not overly impressed with his team’s performance when they edged out Kelso by a point last time out, he believes he will get a reaction back at Canal Park.

“The boys are really excited for a home game after we got a fantastic win down at Kelso to remain unbeaten in the league,” he said. “We know it is going to be a tough test for us against a really good Heriot’s side who have been scoring points for fun.

“As a result it will require a massive defensive effort from us, but we are certainly looking forward to the challenge.”

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Meanwhile, Heriot’s have won three from four and have scored 135 points in their last two matches alone. “It is hard to work out this league so far,” said the Goldenacre outfit’s head coach Phil Smith. “Last week we played against a Cartha side who had scored 97 points the previous week and we managed to score 80 points while Kelso, who had let in those 97, then pushed Highland very close.

“All of that means all we can really do is focus on ourselves and what we can do and I have confidence in our squad. Highland at home is a tough proposition and we are looking forward to making the trip north.”

Melrose top the table on points difference and will look forward to taking hosting their old Premiership sparring partners from the pre-Super6 days.

Ayr themselves are just four points off top spot after last week’s bonus point triumph against Dundee and Melrose head coach Stuart Johnson knows it will be a tough 80 minutes.

“Ayr are always a hard team to play against and they travel on the back of a good result,” he said. “They will be confident and we need to improve on last week’s performance [in a 15-5 win at Boroughmuir]. I am looking to a reaction from the players.”

Biggar are on the same points as Ayr and are looking for their third win in a row when they host a Dundee HSFP side, who might be bottom of the table but are not to be taken lightly according to home team player-coach Craig Borthwick.

“It will be a big challenge this week,” he said. “They were in the contest for large parts of the game last week against Ayr last week and it took a few late tries to take the game away from them. We will just look to control what we can control and are looking forward to another good game.”

Dundee have one point after the first month of the season, but Colin Sangster and his troops will not have their heads down yet.

There is a Border derby at Netherdale between Gala and Kelso, with both sides looking to bounce back after defeats in week four, Watsonians take on Cartha at Drumbreck and Stirling County take on Boroughmuir at Bridgehaugh.

This weekend’s National League Division One fixtures (all 3pm) –

Gala v Kelso

Cartha Queens Park v Watsonians

Stirling County Wolves v Boroughmuir

Melrose v Ayr

Biggar v Dundee HSFP

Highland v Heriot’s Blues

National Two table as it stands –

Biggar RFC16141163019543515073
Heriot's Blues15114055230324913158
Highland RFC16115051534017510155
Melrose Rugby161150366398-328052
Gala RFC15762400347537241
Cartha Queens15780487472159239
Stirling Wolves15771349354-56339
Watsonian FC15771349436-876137
Ayr RFC165101335462-1276230
Kelso RFC165110290503-2135328
Dundee HSFP162140251558-3072111

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Gary Heatly
About Gary Heatly 130 Articles
Gary has had a love for both rugby and writing for as far back as he can remember. Having cut his teeth in the ‘real world’ of journalism at the Midlothian Advertiser local newspaper for a couple of years between 2005 and 2007, he has since been kept busy covering sport, mainly rugby. He was a member of the editorial team at SCRUM Magazine for 11 years until recently and now provides regular rugby content to various national and local newspapers, magazines and websites via his company GH Media as well as hosting a podcast. Twitter: G_HMedia