the Borders have drawn attention away from the death throes of Scottish professional rugby's European ties for all the wrong reasons this week. This weekend, they are stealing the thunder from Edinburgh and Glasgow for all the right ones.

Although the disciplinary panel hearing banned their prop, George Graham, for a month while clearing Edinburgh pair Marty Leslie and Nathan Hines, the row continued yesterday. The Borders asked the SRU to investigate why Edinburgh had given a screening of video evidence of the incidents to the press.

''Since we do not know which incidents were shown we cannot comment upon them,'' said a Borders spokesperson. ''However, Alastair Cranston [the Borders chief executive] has asked the SRU to look into it further.''

Given the Borders' unwillingness to state their position on this case right down the line, that apparent objection to the openness Edinburgh showed in seeking to remove publicly any doubts over the nature of the incidents in question was not surprising.

If that approach may at times seem antiquated, they are to be commended for the enterprise they have shown in filling the void left by their own early European exit.

Consequently, while Scotland's European campaign will end as Glasgow face Llanelli at Hughenden tonight and Edinburgh visit Newport tomorrow, much attention will be on their friendly with Leeds, the Zurich Premiership club. It showcases the match-up of Gregor Townsend and Gordon Ross, the main contenders to be Scotland's stand-off in the Six Nations Championship.

There is some irony in this as Chris Paterson, seen by many as a natural successor to Townsend when he emerged from the same Gala club, and an international under-21 rival to Ross four years ago, is being given his long-overdue chance in the No.10 jersey for Edinburgh tomorrow.

His prospects of playing there for Scotland are long-term, while Ross and Townsend both wore the shirt during the autumn international series.

Naturally, Townsend stressed that team interests are paramount, but he admitted that the match-up would add to the interest, particularly as he has rarely been able to be compared directly with Scotland rivals like Ross, Paterson, Duncan Hodge, Calvin Howarth and Brendan Laney.

''I've never had the chance to play against my rivals for the position,'' he acknowledged. ''I've never played against Hodgey, and the recent games were the first time I've played against Calvin [Howarth] and Brendan [Laney] and it will be the same against Gogsy [Ross]. It depends how the teams go. If one team dominates, it will be hard to say it's a one-on-one.

''Because there are fewer teams in Scotland it's something you don't get often, so it has got that bit of spice, but you can't get too preoccupied with what your opposite number's doing. If I concentrate on Gogsy, I could easily be missing a tackle somewhere else.''

He admitted it was an element of the game he missed during his time in English and French rugby and that it was likely to become more of a feature of the Scottish game again.

''Now we've got these three teams it's going to be more the norm to play against these guys, so you'll be able to watch people on each other more,'' said Townsend.

''When I was with Gala, I used to enjoy playing against Craig Chalmers. I loved the trials as well; in my first one, we just threw the ball about and hammered the Blues. Half the Reds that year got into the Scotland team.''

It also underlines why the Bank of Scotland Pro Cup adds hugely to the season as the focus moves on to the international scene for the rest of the year with these games taking on the feel of trial matches.

Edinburgh and Glasgow could hardly be blamed yesterday for naming sides that show a keeness to experiment as they look to prepare themselves for next week's derby meeting.

Team news

Glasgow v Llanelli

Hughenden, tonight (7.30)

Glasgow have a string of enforced changes with Lee Harrison out with knee ligament damage, Glenn Metcalfe suffering from a back strain and Andy Henderson absent with concussion. Jon Petrie and Andy Hall are also rested, with Michael Bartlett, Calvin Howarth, Cam Blades, Nathan Ross and Gordon Simpson coming in.

Glasgow S Moffat; J Steel, A Bulloch,

T Hayes, M Bartlett; C Howarth,

G Beveridge; C Blades, G Bulloch,

D Hilton, N Ross, J White, A Wilson,

D Macfadyen, G Simpson. Replacements: F Thomson, A Kelly, A Hall,

J Petrie, A Nicol, R Kerr, R Reid

Llanelli B Davies; G Evans, M Watkins,

L Davies, M Jones; S Jones, G Easterby;

I Thomas, R McBryde, M Madden,

V Cooper, C Wyatt, D Hodges,

S Easterby, S Quinnell. Replacements:

J Davies, M Thomas, L Gross, D Jones,

D Peel, G Bowen, M Cardey

Borders v Leeds

Netherdale, tonight (7.30)

Having finally shaken off his knee problems, Shaun Longstaff (right) makes his first start for the Borders senior side as does youngster Gareth Morton. Kevin Utterson came through a fitness test yesterday. For the visitors, Cammy Mather, who has not featured in the national squad for two years, has a chance to to press his claims.

Borders T Vili; N Walker, G Morton,

K Utterson, S Longstaff; G Townsend, I Fairley; P Thomson, S Scott, B Douglas, D Weir, C Stewart, A Rennick, M Lee, S Sititi

Leeds D Scarbrough; C Hall, T Davies, B van Straaten, D Albanese; G Ross, S Benton; M Holt, M Regan, C Murphy,

T Palmer, C Mather, D Hyde, I Feaunati

Newport v Edinburgh

Rodney Parade tomorrow (2.30)

Chris Paterson (below) gets his long overdue chance at stand-off in an experimental Edinburgh line-up which also includes Tom Philip and Ally Hogg, both of whom made major impacts as replacements during last week's win over London Irish.

Also brought in are Simon Webster, returning on the wing after injury, Ally Kellock, and Dougie Hall, while the management insist the absence of Nathan Hines (knee) and Marty Leslie (ribs) was had nothing to do with their involvement in this week's citing hearings.

Newport S Howarth; M Mostyn,

H Luscombe, J Pritchard, L Navaro;

J Strange, J Tonu'u; R Snow, J Richards, A Garvey, S Raiwalui, M Voyle, I Gough, A Powell, J Forster. Replacements: C Jones, D Young, C Anthony, M Veater, R Jones, S Williams, D Byrne

Edinburgh D Lee; C Sharman, C Joiner, T Philip, S webster; C Paterson, G Burns; C Smith, D Hall, J Brannigan, A Kellock, S Murray, T Blackadder, A Hogg, A Dall. Replacements: C Di Ciacca, R Mathieson, G Perrett, S Cross, M Blair, B Laney, A Dickson