Tennent’s Premiership gets tough at the top as unbeaten sides meet

Unbeaten Tennent’s Premiership sides Heriot’s and Ayr meet at Goldenacre this Saturday in what could comfortably be argued as the fixture of the weekend (kick-off 3pm).

The pair of clubs sit side-by-side in the league in second and third place, both with a maximum of 15 points hauled from their opening three rounds, with the host’s points’ difference a significantly superior 95 to the visitor’s 54.

Both sides are currently hot on the heels of league-leaders Melrose who host an as-yet winless Edinburgh Accies side at the Greenyards - a daunting prospect for the newly-promoted club who have nothing to show from their opening exchanges.

Consequently, Heriot’s and Ayr could be forgiven for feeling that not only a win, but a bonus-point win, would be required if they're to keep pace with the reigning league champions.

Selection

Heriot’s will be without Jason Hill, Charlie Jupp and Rhuaridh Leishman, meaning Finlay Munro and Callum Bell get an opportunity to start their first Tennent's Premiership match. Jack McLean also starts after impressing in last weekend’s win over Accies.

Heriot’s Head Coach, Phil Smith, said: We quickly turn to what is the biggest game of our season so far, with both ourselves and Ayr unbeaten.

“Pete [Murchie, Ayr Head Coach] looks like he has really taken to this coaching malarkey and has his team playing really strong and attractive rugby."

Ayr captain Pete McCallum will get his first run out of the season as he returns from an injury sustained in pre-season.

The only other change in the pack from last week is prop Steven Longwell, who swaps sides of the scrum with Ruairidh Sayce, to pack down at tighthead.

In the backs, David Armstrong is back in the nine jersey, while centre Stafford McDowall gets his first start of the season after impressing off the bench against Stirling County.

Glasgow Warriors centre Paddy Kelly retains his 13 jersey with his Warriors teammate Rory Hughes coming back into the fray after illness last week, to start on the wing.

Ayr Head Coach, Peter Murchie, said: “This weekend’s game against Heriot’s promises to be an exciting encounter with both teams so far undefeated. Any team that manages to win as convincingly away from home as they [Heriot's] did last week will, I’m sure, be full of confidence.

“We were happy with our second-half performance last week against a Stirling team with a number of threats in it.

“Heriot’s can play in a variety of ways and the players are really looking forward to the challenge that Saturday will bring.”

Elsewhere in the Tennent’s Premiership, Hawick host Glasgow Hawks in a match that will see one of the sides get their 2018/19 campaign underway after a winless start.

An Edinburgh derby beckons for hosts Boroughmuir as they welcome capital rivals Watsonians to Meggetland, while the league’s sixth and fifth-placed sides go head-to head in Stirling as County host Currie.

Clubs from across Tennent’s National Leagues 1, 2 and 3 will also continue their season on Saturday. For a full list of fixtures, visit scottishrugby.org.

HERIOTS: Charlie Simpson; Rory McMichael, Ross Jones, Stuart Edwards, Craig Robertson; Dom Martin, Andrew Simmers; Martin Bouab, Michael Liness, Struan Cessford, Callum Bell, Adam Sinclar, Iain Wilson CAPTAIN, Jack McLean, Finlay Munro. Substitutes: Ali Johnstone, Josh Scott, Martin Hughes, Alex Bell, Dougie Steel.

AYR: Grant Anderson; Kyle Rowe, Paddy Kelly, Stafford McDowall, Rory Hughes; Frazier Climo, David Armstrong; Ruaridh Sayce, Robbie Smith, Stafford Longwell, David Corbenici, Marshall Sykes, Pete McCallum CAPTAIN, Tommy Spinks, Blair Macpherson. Substitutes: Amir McGuire, Euan Mclaren, Gregor Henry, Amir Rademaker, Ollie Smith.