As we enter the final throes of a very exciting and competitive BT Premiership season there is an air of unpredictability to the remaining round of ‘normal’ season fixtures. Intriguingly the race for a final championship playoff place is as close as the nail-biting race to avoid the relegation playoff place.
Let us first start with the certainties.
Heriots, Melrose and Ayr are all in the playoffs with only the impressive Nails sure of a home tie in the semi-finals. Ayr and Melrose will scrap for second place and the other guarantee of home advantage. Ayr have a game in hand against Currie who have plenty to play for (more on that later) before they make the trip to Greenyards for a final bare-knuckle contest with Melrose which will decide the venue for the second play-off semi-final.
Meanwhile, after a disappointing first season for Phil Leck Edinburgh Accies are relegated. Difficult to pinpoint exactly where Accies failed this term but a slow start and a brutal injury list hasn’t helped. There’s been an undeniable flatness to the Edinburgh team this year and they will need to recover quickly if they are to thrive in the dogfight that is National One.
Beyond that things get a lot more uncertain.
However, whilst we’re on the subject of relegation, let’s look at the race to avoid the second last spot. Three teams are fighting to avoid entering into a playoff with the second placed team from National One (likely Stewarts Melville or GHA). Stirling County, Glasgow Hawks and Boroughmuir all sit within a point of each other but crucially Boroughmuir have played one more game than the other two.
Somewhat inevitably this fixture in hand is County against Hawks at Bridgehaugh this Saturday (28th). That should all but eliminate one of the two from the race to the bottom. Tantalisingly this leaves County playing away at already relegated Accies on the last day whilst Muir face Hawick at Meggetland and Hawks go to Currie.
Speaking of Hawick and Currie…both are still very much in the mix, along with Gala, for the fourth play-off position. As it stands there is not much to choose between the three but Currie need to win their game in hand at home to Ayr on the 7th March to stand a chance of still being in the mix on the final day. The fact they are still in the hunt for glory at this late stage of the season is testament to rookie Head Coach Ben Cairns and his squad. Many (including me) had them tipped for the drop. On this occasion, I’m happy to be proven wrong.
All this adds up to a final day which sees Gala travel to Heriots, Boroughmuir face Hawick and Currie travel to Hawks. Such is the competitiveness of the mid-table teams in this year’s competition it is hardly surprising that there will be so much to play for come judgement day. Impossible to predict and equally impossible to ignore. Any one of Malleny Park, the Greenyards, Meggetland, Raeburn Place or Goldenacre look to be a dramatic place to spend the 14th March.
So if you’re not travelling to Twickenham why not head down to one of these clubs to take in a game then watch the Scotland game in the clubhouse after? It’s going to be emotional…