THERE are two Border derbies in the Premiership this Saturday with Kelso taking on Hawick and Jed-Forest playing Selkirk.
Kelso lost 61-7 at Hawick back in September, but on their home turf they are a tougher nut to crack and there should be a good crowd at Poynder Park as sixth plays first.
There should also be a decent support at Riverside Park where bottom side Jed know they need a win against ninth place Selkirk to avoid the gap widening even more.
Second place Marr are at home to eight placed Glasgow Hawks, with Currie Chieftains, in third, hosting fifth placed Musselburgh. With just three points separating them it should be an interesting encounter at Malleny Park.
And at Raeburn Place, there is another Edinburgh derby with fourth placed Edinburgh Accies hosting seventh placed Heriot’s Blues.
There is also the added intrigue this weekend of a number of Super Series players being available to bolster sides in the top flight.
How it stands –
The Lowdown –
Currie Chieftains v Musselburgh
Venue: Malleny Park @ 2pm
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, DJ Innes, G Christie, R Daley; A Harley, P Boyer; T Jeffrey, R Stewart, G Carson©, A McCallum, C West, R Davies, R Vucago, S Cardosi. Subs: S Fisher, C Anderson, O Blyth-Lafferty, R Morrison, S Leto.
Musselburgh: P Cunningham; O Craig, B Heber, F Thomson, S Watt; D Owenson, F Call; R Brown, F Duraj, D Miller, J Arnold, J Haynes, M Crawford, G Inkster, M Badenhorst©. Subs: J Crain, E Bonthron, P Bogie, J Lister, M McMillan.
Key battle: Sam Cardosi versus Michael Badenhorst
Team news –
Currie Chieftains: A settled starting pack with the only change being Roy Vucago replacing Archie Fletcher at seven due to injury. In the backs, Charlie Brett and DJ Innes are back to start after injuries. Ollie Blyth-Lafferty is back in the squad from Super Series duty with the Future XV on the bench, alongside Ross Morrison who is set to make his first appearance for the top team after impressing for the second XV.
Musselburgh: Finn Thomson and Fin Duraj return from Super Series duty at centre and hooker respectively. Ben Heber replaces regular skipper Rory Watt at 13 with Matty Crawford coming into the starting line-up at six for Michael Maltman. Jordan Lister returns to the squad alongside Jonathan Crain with Euan Bonthron making his first appearance this season on the bench too. Michael Badenhorst is captain.
What the coaches say –
“Last week was a better performance away to Jed and we will need to step it up again this week to get a win against Musselburgh. They have already beaten Marr away from home, pushed Hawick all the way and will be full of confidence after their win against Accies last weekend. Derek [O’Riordan] has done a fantastic job and has built a team with threats throughout. For our part, it’s great to be back at Malleny and to have some of our more experienced players coming back into the squad, it’s set to be a cracking match …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)
“Our first competitive fixture against Currie happened on the 11th of February 1989. When we asked all those selected who were born after that date to stand up at training on Thursday – which was everybody – they were stunned to learn that the club hasn’t beaten Currie in their lifetime. If we are to have our best ever season then we need to be prepared to go after a first ever over Currie and win other big games …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)
Verdict: Both of these sides had good wins last week and will be heading into this game feeling good. Musselburgh are much-improved, the return of a couple of Super Series players will help them and this will be much closer than the 46-7 reverse they suffered in September. Home advantage and the return of Charlie Brett and DJ Innes may just get Currie over the line.
Edinburgh Accies v Heriot’s Blues
Venue: Raeburn Place @ 2pm
Edinburgh Accies: C Ramm; M Wallace, N Armstrong©, G Woods, K Gossman; B Appleson, P Ritchie; R Dunbar, F McAslan, C Crookshank, C Bain, S Whittaker, G Napier, K Slingby, J Sole. Subs: C Davies, A Hain, T Drennan, B Grainger, F MacNeill.
Heriot’s Blues: R Steele; P Christie, A Hunter, K Kutsuna, C Meagher; L Townsend, G Wilson; A Munro, R Jackson, S Cessford, N Docherty, P Spence, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, A Johnston©. Subs: D Westwood, J Lascelles, C Shand, K Singleton, J McNaughton.
Key battle: Ben Appleson versus Luke Townsend
Team news –
Edinburgh Accies: Callum Ramm returns to the club from playing Super Series with Boroughmuir Bears and Max Wallace returns from injury to start at full-back and wing respectively in an otherwise unchanged backline. In the forwards, Ross Dunbar starts at loose-head, Cameron Bain returns to the second-row and Guy Napier starts at blindside after impressing off the bench last week. Cal Davies, who has joined the club from Watsonians Super Series, comes onto the bench alongside Finlay MacNeill, who missed last week’s game.
Heriot’s Blues: Rory Steele and Cammy Meagher make a timely return in the backs as Trent Storen and Harry Hitchen drop out through injury. Ali Johnston and Struan Cessford join a fairly settled pack. Johnston is skipper.
What the coaches say –
“We did well to stay in the game and give ourselves a chance to win last week, however, we didn’t stick to what we had talked about and could not hold onto our lead heading into the final five minutes of the game. This week we welcome Heriot’s Blues to Raeburn Place for a local derby and we must get back to winning ways. We need to be brave on both sides of the ball …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
“It was a disappointing defeat last weekend, however, the opportunity to take on our local rivals will hopefully focus the minds …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)
Verdict: Both teams lost tight games last week and will be looking to get back to winning ways. The additions of Callum Ramm and, from the bench, Cal Davies for Accies could swing things their way in a high scoring affair.
Jed-Forest v Selkirk
Venue: Riverside Park @ 3pm
Jed-Forest: M Cullen; G Young, R Marshall, O Cranston, R Shirra-Gibb; D Buckley, M Glen; J Ferguson, H Keith, H Meadows, C Skeldon©, D Wardrop, E Lauder, B Roff, B Fotheringham. Subs: H Stenhouse, N Bates, G Law, B Howe, B Irvine.
Selkirk: C Anderson; F Wheelans, B Pickles, R Nixon, J Welsh; Aaron McColm, H Alderson; L Pettie, J Bett, Z Szwagrzak, C Turnbull, A Cochrane, K Westlake, S McClymont©, Andrew McColm. Subs: B Riddell, J Millburn, L Cassidy, M Job, C Easson.
Key battle: Elliot Lauder versus Kieran Westlake
Team news –
Jed-Forest: Only one change in the pack, Jamie Hynd is unavailable so Dan Wardrop moves to the second-row and Elliot Lauder comes in on the blindside. Mason Cullen is back after his Super Series Championship campaign with Boroughmuir Bears and starts at full-back. Mark Glen comes in at scrum-half, Owen Cranston moves into the centre to partner Rory Marshall.
Selkirk: Finlay Wheelans starts on the wing in place of Blake Cullen who picked up an injury in last week’s game. Kieran Westlake, who has taken up the post of Selkirk’s development officer, gets his first start on the blindside after playing for Boroughmuir Bears in the Super Series Championship. Local lad Munroe Job is also available for this game and will make an impact from the bench.
What the coaches say –
“We’ve been up against it all season and Saturday is no different to any of our other games. Our last game against Selkirk was end-to-end rugby but we conceded too many tries which wasn’t good enough. Last Saturday we played some good rugby, but tended to kick too much possession away. You can’t afford to do that against a team like Selkirk who will attack from anywhere on the park …” – David Grieve (Jed-Forest)
“Last week’s game was a massive bonus point win, the game could have gone either way, we had some solid defensive sets that we gained momentum which eventually gave us an opportunity to get field position and score to get the result. We have trained with real intent this week to prepare for a Border derby against Jed which will be another physical game. We will need to continue to be aggressive in our defensive line and be accurate in our attack to gain points from this game …” – Gordon Henderson (Selkirk)
Verdict: Jed know they have to win this game to give them any sort of momentum. They have a fairly settled squad and will have a large home crowd cheering them on. Selkirk will have to deal with those factors, but will have taken heart from the battling qualities shown against Glasgow Hawks last time out so should have enough to get over the line.
Kelso v Hawick
Venue: Poynder Park @ 3pm
Kelso: A Barbour; A Roberts, D Patterson, F Robson©, R Tweedie; M Hastie, A Tait; G Shiells, E Knox, T Logan, E Thompson, K Melbourne, C Brown, G Cessford, L Tait. Subs: J Glendinning, A Asante, A Common, M Woodcock, J Thompson.
Hawick: K Ford; C Welsh, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir©, R Graham, N Little, D Redpath, C Sutherland, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: R Anderson, T Hope, F Wilson, D Brooker, E Hamilton.
Key battle: Euan Knox versus Ross Graham
Team news –
Kelso: A difficult week with injuries and unavailability. Hamish Tweedie, Archie Cowens, Allan Frame, Angus Mcgregor, Liam Herdman and Bruce McNeil are all unavailable. James Thompson returns to the bench after scoring two tries for the 2nd XV against Melrose and James Glendinning covers hooker.
Hawick: Gareth Welsh comes in at scrum-half and Ross Graham rotates in at hooker for Russell Anderson who is on the bench. Kiwi Dan Brooker and youngster Eli Hamilton, who could debut, are also on the bench. Back-row Stuart Graham is making his 200th 1st XV appearance for the club and full-back Kirk Ford his 100th.
What the coaches say –
“A tough one this week at home against in-form Scottish champions Hawick, we will need to be at our very best to get anything …” – Bruce McNeil (Kelso)
“This week we turn our attention to another Border derby down at Poynder Park against a Kelso side who are in good form and are a very tough outfit to play against. We were really pleased with the level of performance we showed last week against Marr, but we felt we left a few points out on the field and have worked hard this week to strengthen our individual skill-sets and also collectively want to look to take more opportunities when they are given to us. We head into this week after good preparation at training and we know this will be a battle from the first whistle. We need to get it right up top and make sure our defensive effort is the same as it was at home last week. It will be a tough encounter, but we are in a good place and are excited to make the trip …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)
Verdict: Border derbies always get the pulse racing and this one certainly should. Kelso have won their last three games while Hawick have won their last nine. This will be a battle up front and Kelso will be looking to take the game to Hawick from the first minute. It will be tight, but Hawick’s experience from over the last couple of years should see them head home with a positive result.
Marr v Glasgow Hawks
Venue: Fullarton Park @ 2pm
Marr: C Inglis; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon, G Baird; A Apthorpe, S Reekie, A Rogers, D Andrew, C Young, C Smith, B Johnston, B Jardine. Subs: B Sweet, F Grant, K Vallance, R Baird, G Montgomery.
Glasgow Hawks: E Muirhead; R Flett, J Pinkerton©, C Ferrie, J Couper; G Cruickshanks, J Imrie; K Shanahan, A Burgess, M Goodwin, M Crumlish, S Halafihi, JP Thomson, C Nolan, T Wright. Subs: O McKenna or E Cairns, F Muir, T Sofidaya, D McCartney, S Graham.
Key battle: Alex Apthorpe versus Marcus Goodwin
Team news –
Marr: Alex Apthorpe returns from suspension at loose-head in an otherwise settled starting XV. Fraser Grant is added to the bench.
Glasgow Hawks: Six changes to the squad due to injuries and unavailability. Paul Cairncross has a dead calf and regular skipper Stephen Leckey has broken a rib, which allows Aaron Burgess to come in and get another start at hooker while Tongan Sione Halafihi is added to the second-row. Lewis Stewart has been called into work which allows Craig Nolan to slot into the back-row straight from the Future XV after impressing in training. JP Thomson returns from injury just in time to make up a new-look back-row, with Ryan Howie out having sustained a concussion. In the backs, Jos McConkey has broken a finger and Calum Ferrie is preferred to Wayne Burrows having returned from being long-term injury cover for the Future XV. Euan Muirhead has been released from Boroughmuir Bears as part of the Super Series draft and is at full-back. Hawks are hoping Oli McKenna, who has been training with Glasgow Warriors this week, will be cleared to play adult rugby by Scottish Rugby in time to sit on the bench.
What the coaches say –
“We are back at Fullarton this week for the west coast derby versus Hawks. This comes on the back of a physical battle against deserved winners and leaders Hawick last week. We know that Hawks will bring a physical game which we need to be ready for. They were pipped at the death by Selkirk last week so we know they will be hurting from that. This week has been about correcting the errors of last and making sure we execute what we practise at training. We know we need to stay disciplined and make sure we take our chances when they arrive to be on the right side of the scoreline …” – Stephen Adair (Marr)
“Saturday will be a test of our squad with injuries to key individuals and it will require some players to go from sheep to shepherds. There is unbelievable talent and quality in the squad, but to beat Marr you have to batter them up front and they have a history of doing that to other teams. I’m excited to see who stands up to the challenge …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
Verdict: Marr lost out at Hawick last week while Hawks also went down in a tight match in the Borders. Marr have a fairly settled squad in place for this one while Hawks have been boosted by some Super Series players. Consistency in selection and home advantage should see Marr keep up the pressure on Hawick.