THERE are five BT Cup Round One matches taking place at lunch time today [all kick-offs are at 1.30pm]. In the sixth game which was supposed to take place, Marr have been handed a walkover against Dundee HSFP, who could not raise a front-row.
Perhaps the most intriguing encounter sees Heriot’s make the short trip across Inverleith Park to take on their north Edinburgh rivals Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place, and there will be a few familiar faces to both teams.
Hooker Michael Liness came through the ranks at Accies before switching to Heriot’s a few years back, while home stand-off Richard Mill has headed in the opposite direction (with a stop-off at Melrose along the way).
The two clubs have a long and colourful history but have not played each other much in recent seasons due to Accies being in the division below. However, the Raeburn Place men have made a flying start to the current season and are well on course for promotion – so this could be a real bun fight.
Glasgow Hawks host Watsonians in what could be another intriguing affair. The men from the west came out on top the last time the two sides met, but they have struggled for consistency all season while their opponents seem to have grown in confidence with each passing week, but they are missing a few key men for this one.
Boroughmuir host Gala, Stirling County are using their central Scotland derby against struggling National One side Falkirk to test the strength in depth of their squad, while Hawick take on Selkirk at Mansfield Park.
BOROUGHMUIR v GALA
VENUE: Meggetland @ 1.30pm
Boroughmuir: C Whyte; G McConnell, R Kerr, M Hare, J Edmunds; G Cannie, E McKirdy; R Dunbar, A Nethery, D Robertson, F Field, C Atkinson, A Erskine, D Marek, C Keddie©. Subs: A Mncube, T Gracie, T Drennan, J Adams, M Brown
Gala: G Speirs©; J Tunrbull, R Jeffrey, A Emond, K Gerrard; G Hunter, E Gunter; M Christie, J Chambers, T Logan, C Weir, C Pate, R Tod, R Irvine, V Reavely. Subs: P Stewart, D Broatch, J Watson, D Keddie, F Hunter.
TEAM NEWS –
Boroughmuir: Mark Hare returns from injury at centre and Euan McKirdy gets his first start for the club since switching from Watsonians at scrum-half. Callum Atkinson is back in the second-row which allows Archie Erskine to shift to blindside flanker. Alun Nethery plays at hooker in place of Johnny Matthews, who has been called up by Edinburgh Rugby for their trip to South Africa
Gala: Jack Chambers, Cammy Pate, Robbie Irvine and Blair Reavely all return to the pack while in the backs Kerr Gerrard makes his Gala debut on the wing after joining from Selkirk, following in the footsteps of his father who played for Gala during the late 1970s.
KEY BATTLE: Ciaran Whyte versus Graham Speirs
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –“The cup brings a different challenge and Gala will be a real test for the squad. We have enjoyed the short break and the squad have trained well this week. The early kick-off is the start of a big rugby day in Scotland…” – Peter Wright (Boroughmuir)
“A hugely difficult fixture for us this weekend but one the players are looking forward to. They realise that they will have to rediscover their early season form and play to their best to be competitive. It’s a great opportunity for our young players to taste the step up in level a Premiership side will offer. We have some Premiership experience spread throughout the side and these ‘senior’ players will have to lead by example and help the inexperienced younger guys enjoy their cup involvement. Hopefully we will get to see the Keddie brothers going head-to-head at some point, with ex-Gala player Craig captaining the hosts …” – Chris Dalgleish (Gala)
VERDICT: Two teams in desperate need of a morale boosting win. Home advantage, top flight experience and some class acts sprinkled through the squad should see Boroughmuir home.
STIRLING COUNTY v FALKIRK
VENUE: Bridgehaugh @ 1.30pm
Stirling County: L Bonar; L Trotter, C Robertson, R Curle, K Gossman; A Watt, R Swan; R Chies, M Emmison, G Holborn, J Beech, J Pow, S Robertson, S MacDonald, H Henderson. Subs: B Gilchrist, A Wood, B Dineen, C McAndrew, M Donaldson.
Falkirk: M Hall; C Rennie, A McNab, C Faulds, A Thomson; F Syme, R Limbert; J McKenna, A Gillespie©, M Mcspadden, C Lawson, L McKay, G Kirk, R Crawford, D Scobbie. Subs: S Govan, N Leeson, G Ramsay, N Logan, K Ross, J Nelson, A Waters.
TEAM NEWS –
Stirling County: With 14 out of the 20-man squad having played 2nd XV rugby this season, this game provides an opportunity for players to stake a claim for selection moving forward. Struan Robertson, Andy Watt, Blair Gilchrist, Adam Wood, Billy Dineen, Cammy McAndrew and Matt Donaldson are all set to make their first appearance for the 1st XV this season.
KEY BATTLE: Matt Emmison versus Andrew Gillespie
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“After 10 league games on the bounce, the squad enjoyed a week off and are now all looking forward to getting back playing this weekend. This is a good opportunity for players to stake a claim for selection moving forward …” – Peter Jericevich (Falkirk)
VERDICT: These are tough times at Falkirk, who have lost all ten National One matches played so far, with only a solitary try bonus point to show for their efforts. It is not going to get any easier for them this weekend.
GLASGOW HAWKS v WATSONIANS
VENUE: Old Anniesland @ 1.30pm
Glasgow Hawks: R Beattie; K Rowe, B McGroarty©, P Kelly, S Yawayawa; R Thompson, P Boyer; S Findlay, P Cairncross, G Strain, A Kirkland, F Hastie, S Leckey, C Kerr, J Eaglesham. Subs: J Spence, L Skinner, P Henderson, J Couper, J Steele.
Watsonians: A Chalmers; M Bertram, R Hutton, D Innes, M Allen; E Fox, A Harris; N Fraser, R Graham, K Whyte, J Hodgson, C Borthwick©, G Nelson, J Miller, M Fedo. Subs: S Crombie, F Hobbis, K Wat, W Thomson, K Young.
TEAM NEWS –
Glasgow Hawks: First year pro Paddy Kelly returns after picking up an injury in round one to start in the number 12 jersey, and Bobby Beattie is at full-back after completing his return to play protocol. Jack Steele on the bench is another player back from injury and has impressed in training, while Paul Henderson comes into the squad for the first time this season after strong performances whilst captaining the 2nd XV.
Watsonians: Michael Fedo and Gregor Nelson come into the back-row for the influential pairing of Rory Drummond (serving an eight week suspension for making contact with an eye against Ayr) and Euan Dods, while Scotland Under-18 prospect Kieran Watt is on the bench. Michael Allen and Mark Bertram return to the wings with Keith Young coming onto the bench.
KEY BATTLE: Jake Eaglesham versus Michael Fedo
WHAT THE COACH SAYS –
“After a lighter week for the squad last week we have worked very hard this week to right a few wrongs from the Marr game as well as add some options to our game-plan. We had a very close call with Watsonians last time in the league and they will have been disappointed to not have walked away with more points than they did. They have some outstanding players in their ranks and having watched their last few games they have added a lot to their game since in recent weeks …” – Fin Gillies (Glasgow Hawks).
“Both teams will be disappointed with their performances in the last round of league fixtures and this match provides a perfect opportunity for one team to get up and running again. With Hawks edging us in our last encounter and the carrot of a quarter-final spot up for grabs, we need little motivation for this one …” – Stevie Lawrie (Watsonians).
VERDICT: Fin Gillies has demanded a reaction from his players after their heavy defeat at Marr in their last outing, and they are back on home territory at Old Anniesland – albeit on the 2nd XV pitch because the main paddock is still blighted by a sink-hole – so, they might just edge it against a Watsonians team missing two of their most influential performers in recent weeks in the shape of Rory Drummond and Euan Dods.
EDINBURGH ACCIES v HERIOT’S
VENUE: Raeburn Place @ 1.30pm
Edinburgh Accies: L Hirini; M Couper, R Chalmers, N Armstrong, C Ramm; R Mill, S Johnson; S Gunn, C Black, C Lacour, R Seydak, R Lovett, J Mann, J Sole, R Snape. Subs: R Simpson, F Richardson, A Inwood, M Love, C Hirini.
Heriot’s: R Jones; C Simpson, L Steele, R Kay, C Robertson; R Carmichael©, T Wilson; M Bouab, M Liness, S Cessford, C Smith, C Marshall, M Maltman, I Wilson, J Turley. Subs: S Mustard, N Campbell, J Gordon, J McLean, D Martin.
TEAM NEWS –
Edinburgh Accies: A pretty settled squad which has swept past all before them in National One this season, with ten wins from ten outings, and nine bonus points for good measure – although this will be a major step up for the home team. The most notable inclusion is Conor Hirini, who returns to action after being given an extended rest to freshen him up for the business end of the season.
Heriot’s: Liam Steele returns to the back division which allows Ross Jones to revert from centre to his preferred full-back slot. Clarke Smith comes back into the second-row so that Jack Turley can wear the number eight jersey.
KEY BATTLE: Callum Black versus Michael Liness
WHAT THE COACH SAYS –
“Heriots coming to Raeburn Place in mid-November is a welcome distraction from the break in league action thanks to the international window, and what an enjoyable distraction it will be. They are a top four side in the Premiership with designs on getting to the play-offs and ambitions to win; we simply want to become better as a team week-in-week-out and Saturday will be no different. The expected response from a second division side playing against a top tier club is to become defensive, try and contain them and think in terms of score-line. That is not the way we have prepared. We are going out to have a crack and play with the same freedom we have afforded the squad in the league. We have nothing to lose and certainly nothing to fear. The focus is not on claiming a scalp, or on Heriot’s at all; it’s about ourselves and coming out the other side of the game in a stronger position and better prepared for the league return in two weeks …” – Derek O’Riordan (Edinburgh Accies).
“The players are excited to get back into it after a blank Saturday. Our win against Stirling two weeks ago has put us back into contention in the league so we are now looking to put in a performance in the Cup to maintain momentum. Accies are obviously going well, and having played them in pre-season, where we claimed a narrow win, we know we are up against a side full of confidence who will be looking to take a Premiership scalp. But we also have players looking for the bragging rights in the north of the city. The excitement of the Cup never waivers and I am sure players and coaches will be looking to put on a spectacle before heading along to Murrayfield to watch Scotland finally defeat the AB’s …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s)
VERDICT: Accies want to throw caution to the wind and have a real go. It is not a daft idea because Heriot’s have been vulnerable at times this year when the opposition have upped the intensity. But Phil Smith thinks his boys are now coming onto a game and they should have too much in the locker for their rivals from the opposite side of Inverleith Park.
HAWICK v SELKIRK
VENUE: Mansfield Park @ 1.30pm
Hawick: A Weir; G Munro, K Davies, D Buckley, L Ferguson, L Armstrong, G Cottrell; S Muir, F Renwick, N Little, C Hamilton, D Redpath, G Graham, S Graham, B McNeil. Subs: M Carryer, R Macleod, D Lowrie, Anderson, K Brunton
Selkirk: S Hamilton; C Wagman, S Hendrie, R Nixon, J Welsh; G Craig, C McEwan; L Pettie, J Bett, D Anderson, A Renwick, P Forrest, D Nicol, J Mackay, S Nixon. Subs: N Hall, B Riddell, M Gordon, F Anderson, M Davies.
KEY BATTLE: Dom Buckley versus Ross Nixon
VERDICT: If there is going to be an upset with a National League team scalping a Premiership side, then this is the best bet – but Hawick will know this is a golden opportunity to kick-start their season with a long-awaited win, and they should have enough to get over the line.
- Marr were awarded a walkover against Dundee HSFP, who could not raise a front-row.