Premiership 1

match of the day

Stirling County v Hawick

Hawick have been warned to prepare for a fierce Stirling County backlash at Bridgehaugh today when the sides go head-to-head in the BT Scotland Premiership's match of the weekend.

The champions, desperate for a win to stay on the heels of pacesetters Boroughmuir, have been rocked by an injury to influential hooker Matt Landels, but Terence Froud, the manager, is more wary of a County outfit determined to make amends for last weekend's fade-out at Gala.

''That will have made them particularly dangerous because they had been going along so well before Netherdale,'' he stated. ''They are a young side with a strong back row who will try to move the ball, so hopefully we will get stuck in up front and starve them of possession.''

Eddie Pollock, the Stirling coach, recalls veteran lock Malcolm Norval for Bruce McFarlane, while Craig Deacons gets the nod over Ally Hogg in the back row and Craig Sangster starts in place of injured Kiwi Steven Hill. ''We were all gutted after what happened at Gala,'' Pollock said. ''I felt the team were focused and then we let ourselves down.''

Boroughmuir v Gala

Muir will be without lock Nathan Pike for the visit of Gala to Meggetland. Pike landed up in hospital after last week's victory at Aberdeen with internal bleeding in his leg and Sean Lineen, backs coach, admitted: ''It is a bad blow to us and the lad because he will be sidelined for quite a while.''

Lineen has the consolation of having pro players Graeme Kiddie and Ally Davidson back in the ranks, along with speedy wing Charlie Keenan.

Kirkcaldy v Currie

Kirkcaldy have effectively their last chance to wriggle clear of the drop-zone when they take on Currie at Beveridge Park. John Methven, the Fife club's manager, reckons a repeat of their display at Hawick last time out could be good enough to earn the verdict. Stuart Pearson makes a start on the wing in place of Paddy Parkin, while fit-again Stuart Bethune takes the No.10 jersey. There is also the long-awaited league debut of Kiwi Sean Cain, who was sidelined shortly after arriving from Gordonians.

Currie are bidding for a third win on the trot, but coach Bruce Macnaughton sees Kirkcaldy as a tricky hurdle. ''Although they are at the foot of the table they have not really been turned over by anyone and will try to take us on up front,'' he said. Out of the Currie selection are hooker Doug Dingwall and lock John Officer, but Aaron Cowie is back.

Melrose v Aberdeen GSFP

Troubled Melrose have fresh problems ahead of their home encounter with Aberdeen GSFP, with only six men sporting the same number they wore in last weekend's record defeat at Goldenacre. On the plus side, Mike Dungait is fit to resume at scrum-half, allowing Scott Ruthven to move to stand-off. Graham Shiel goes to centre, Craig Joiner to wing and Alex Clark into the back-row. In the front row Argentine Marcello Munoz makes his delayed debut alongside Wayne Mitchell and Ian Exner.

Spokesman Stuart Henderson said: ''You will see a totally different attitude this week. Things were far from being right last week.'' Aberdeen, keen to halt their poor away run, will again be without outside-half Keith Oddie, giving Murray Strang another chance to impress.

Glasgow Hawks v Heriot's FP

Heriot's aim to show that the triumph over Melrose was not a flash in the pan as they head for Anniesland. The capital men won't have influential stand-off Gordon Ross, so Anders Monro returns to the starting formation. Spokesman Douglas Bruce said: ''The Melrose result was pleasing because they had so many big-name players in their side. The return of Hugh Gilmour made a huge difference to our defence. When Melrose were still in the game they found that they could make no headway. The problem is that we seldom perform to our potential in Glasgow.''

David Kelso & Alan Christie