National One preview: Ayr and Stirling Wolves look for strong ends to the season

Second placed Heriot's face tricky expedition to the Borders to take on Gala, while top of the table Biggar host Kelso

Ayr played Melrose last week: Image: George McMillan
Ayr played Melrose last week: Image: George McMillan

STIRLING WOLVES and Ayr have both struggled to find consistency this term in National League Division One, but both view Saturday’s meeting as a chance to build some momentum for the rest of the season.

They are eighth and ninth respectively in the table and although they should have enough points in the bag to stay away from a relegation fight they will want to kick on to make sure and to help give their younger players more confidence going forward.

“We didn’t have the best December and were off last week so everyone is keen to get going this week,” said Wolves head coach Chris Faill. “We have a strong squad with not many injuries or players unavailable which is always good news. We are looking to push on and finish the season as well as we can.


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“If we let Ayr play they are a dangerous team as we found out in the reverse fixture [which was 26-26 draw in October]. We had a great comeback from 26-7 down in that one and could have won, so that will motivate us that bit more this time.”

Opposite number Stuart Fenwick saw his side lose 26-19 to Melrose last Saturday and is looking for a response from that. “The boys have trained really well after a disappointing result last week and we took a lot of positives from the performance with the pack in particular stepping up,” he said.

Of the sides below Stirling and Ayr, 10th placed Kelso have now opened up an 11 point gap between themselves and the relegation zone. They beat Border rivals Gala last week, but face a daunting challenge with an away trip to leaders Biggar this weekend.

“Saturday will be a tough game against a Kelso side that’s filled with confidence after a stuffy win against Gala,” said Biggar player/forwards coach Craig Borthwick. “We are looking forward to getting back to Hartreemill after the festive break and getting going with the second half of the season and trying to keep our good run going.

“We’ve had a good week of training and been working hard to polish up on some things, so we’ll see if we can execute them in the game.

“I’m sure Kelso will have other ideas and we expect a gritty performance from them, so we’ll have to be at our best to get what we are after.”

Bottom side Dundee High are 18 points from safety and Boroughmuir are 11, so they could both do with away wins this weekend – but it will not be easy for them at fourth placed Melrose and seventh placed Cartha Queens Park respectively though.

At the other end of the table, Heriot’s Blues are second, 10 points adrift of Biggar, and they are on the road to Netherdale. The Maroons have improved since their 53-24 loss to the same opponents three months ago, but the Edinburgh side know a victory is a must to keep up some sort of pressure at the summit of the table.

Third placed Highland lost at Heriot’s last week and head coach Dave Carson wants a reaction.  “After a disappointing  display and result last week at Heriot’s we hope to get back to winning ways with a home win against Watsonians,” he said.

“If we can cut out the individual errors which cost us points at Goldeacre and keep the ball like we did for the first 25 minutes last week I’d hope we will come away with a victory.”

This weekend’s National League Division One fixtures (all 2pm unless stated) –

Cartha Queens Park v Boroughmuir (moved to Lochinch)

Biggar v Kelso

Stirling Wolves v Ayr

Gala v Heriot’s Blues (3pm)

Melrose v Dundee High (3pm)

Highland v Watsonians (3pm)

How it stands –

Nat 1PWLDFADTBLBPts
Biggar20181175622553118092
Heriot's Blues19145067236530716173
Highland18135057436221211164
Melrose191270456486-3010159
Gala1999246246207451
Stirling Wolves18981413429-166347
Watsonians208102488569-818347
Cartha QP197111559587-2811445
Kelso207130387606-2197439
Ayr196121372531-1596335
Boroughmuir185130313448-1353427
Dundee High203170313695-3823116

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Gary Heatly
About Gary Heatly 175 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