HAWICK and Marr have played out some cracking games in recent times and there is set to be another at Mansfield Park this weekend. The two sides are currently first and second in the Premiership standings respectively and after Hawick defeated Marr in the play-off semi-final and the Scottish Cup final at the tail end of last term, the Troon men turned the tables with a 2023-24 league win back in September.
That 24-5 reverse for Hawick broke their unbeaten run that stretched back through the whole of the 2022-23 campaign and both sides will certainly be up for this return fixture.
At 12.30pm before this one a bench will be unveiled on Remembrance weekend at Mansfield Park in memory of all Hawick players and supporters who passed away while serving their country.
Elsewhere, Musselburgh will be looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat at Kelso last week when the fifth placed side defend the Bill McLaren Shield for the first time at home to third placed Edinburgh Accies.
Fourth placed Currie Chieftains are on the road to bottom side Jed-Forest, with sixth placed Heriot’s Blues and seventh placed Kelso meeting, and ninth placed Selkirk hosting eight placed Glasgow Hawks.
How it stands –
The Lowdown –
Hawick v Marr
Venue: Mansfield Park @ 3pm
Hawick: K Ford; C Welsh, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton, D Lightfoot; S Muir©, R Anderson, N Little, D Redpath, C Sutherland, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: R Graham, T Hope, F Wilson, B Scott, Glen Welsh.
Marr: C Inglis; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon, G Baird; B Sweet, S Reekie, A Rogers, D Andrew, C Young, B Johnston, C Smith, B Jardine. Subs: G Dick, K Vallance, C Folan, R Baird, G Montgomery.
Key battle: Jae Linton versus Blair Jardine
Team news –
Hawick: Morgan Tait is out with an injury so Ronan McKean comes in on the wing in an otherwise unchanged starting XV. Glen Welsh has earned a place on the bench.
Marr: Callum Inglis rotates in at full-back from Greg Montgomery who is on the bench while, in the pack, Cammy Young comes into the second-row. Callum Folan and Grant Baird are added to the replacements.
What the coaches say –
“The game against Marr this week doesn’t get much bigger: a top of the table clash at Mansfield Park. We have had a real energy and edge at training this week coming off the back of a strong result at Hawks and we have looked to continue improving certain areas of our game. With only one forced change this week we feel we are starting to build some consistency in selection and boys are really starting to put strong individual performances in week after week. We understand the task ahead of us and will need to put in a huge performance to turn over a Marr side that have started the season well and are in good form, but this group strives in big games and we are ready for the challenge that lies ahead of us on Saturday and over the next few weeks …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)
“Last weekend we were happy with the performance in attack, but not so much in defence. We have worked hard this week to fix that as the league leaders will be a new challenge and a very big one. We look forward to it and have prepared well to try go away to Hawick and get a result. Top of the table clashes are always entertaining …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)
Verdict: This should be one of the matches of the season so far. Marr outplayed Hawick back in September and know they have the weapons to hurt the Borderers. Since then Hawick have won eight games in a row and have not lost at home since October 2019 so will be a tough nut to crack at Mansfield. Hold onto your hats …
Heriot’s Blues v Kelso
Venue: Goldenacre @ 2pm
Heriot’s Blues: T Storen©; P Christie, A Hunter, K Kutsuna, H Hitchen; L Townsend, K Singleton; A Munro, R Jackson, J Lascelles, N Docherty, P Spence, M Keough, I Hill, R Kirkpatrick. Subs: D Westwood, A Bogle, M Dillon, G Wilson, F Stanier.
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, L Tait, M Woodcock, C Brown. Subs: A Frame, A Mcgregor, A Common, J Glendinning, H Tweedie.
Key battle: Angus Munro versus Terry Logan
Team news –
Heriot’s Blues: Keir Singleton starts at nine and Angus Hunter comes in at centre with regular skipper Bobby Kay not involved. Harry Hitchen comes in on the wing while, up front, Rory Jackson starts at hooker and Pat Spence and Innes Hill return after injury in a reshaped pack. Full-back Trent Storen is skipper.
Kelso: Player/coach Bruce McNeil drops out the squad and is replaced by Euan Thompson who is in the second-row with Cammy Brown taking the No.8 jersey. Ashton Asante is playing for the Future XV on Friday evening in the Super Series Championship.
What the coaches say –
“After five weeks on the road the boys are delighted to be returning to Goldenacre, if they remember where it is! Kelso are pushing hard now for a top four spot after an excellent win last time out – this means we are going to have to be ‘on it’ the weekend …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)
“We have not won on the road yet this season and Heriot’s have not lost at home, so we are very much the underdogs in this one. Phil [Smith] and Jim [Parker] will have done their homework on us, so we will need to be very aggressive in defence like last week and force the issue like we do on home turf …” – Bruce McNeil (Kelso)
Verdict: Heriot’s are at Goldenacre for the first time since late September and they will be hoping home comforts gets them a positive result. They are missing a few key figures though and Kelso have just made one change to the starting XV, but other forwards will have to step up with Bruce McNeil rested. The challenge for the Borderers is taking their home form on the road.
Jed-Forest v Currie Chieftains
Venue: Riverside Park @ 3pm
Jed-Forest: O Cranston; B Irvine, G Young, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; D Buckley, G Munro; J Ferguson, H Keith, H Meadows, C Skeldon©, J Hynd, D Wardrop, B Roff, B Fotheringham. Subs: H Stenhouse, N Bates, E Lauder, R Douglas, G Law.
Currie Chieftains: S Leto; J McCaig, E Crombie, G Christie, R Daley; A Harley, C Lessels; T Jeffrey, R Stewart, G Carson©, A McCallum, C West, R Davies, A Fletcher, S Cardosi. Subs: S Fisher, C Anderson, R Vucago, A Bain, C Taylor.
Key battle: Blake Roff versus Archie Fletcher
Team news –
Jed-Forest: Due to injuries and unavailability, Gary Munro starts at scrum-half with Dom Buckley again at stand-off. Rory Marshall and Gregor Young are in the centres together for the first time in a long time with Owen Cranston switching to full-back. The starting pack is unchanged after a gutsy performance against Accies last week.
Currie Chieftains: Ryan Stewart and Ali McCallum are available and they start in the pack with Thomas Jeffrey also coming in at loose-head. In the backs, Gregor Christie, the brother of All Black Finlay Christie, is back for his first outing since last season’s play-off final. DJ Innes is injured, so Christie comes in at 12. Colby Taylor joins the bench.
What the coaches say –
“We’re glad to be back playing at Riverside after playing away from home the last two weeks. We’ve made a couple positional changes in the backline that boasts a lot of experience. Our forwards stuck in well last week which I was really pleased with and they’ll have to do the same this week against a strong Currie pack. We desperately need points against Currie, we showed what we can do at home against Marr a few weeks ago and now we need to start giving our supporters something to cheer about – let’s hope that starts on Saturday …” – David Grieve (Jed-Forest)
“I was disappointed immediately after last week’s match, but on reflection Selkirk played some excellent attacking rugby, especially when given space. We also played some good stuff in attack, but we need to be less wasteful in possession. In defence we will need to cut down Jed’s time to play and get the ball wide whilst also stopping their momentum up front. Marr were lucky to scrape a victory at Riverside Park and we know how tough a fixture it will be in front of their home support …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)
Verdict: The signs of Jed’s struggles to come were in evidence in September when Currie beat them 54-7. Since then, the Borderers have improved a lot and selection has become a bit more settled, but they still haven’t found that elusive win. They’ll have taken heart from scoring 31 points versus Marr in their last home game, but if Currie’s pack can get the upper hand here they should head home with the points.
Musselburgh v Edinburgh Accies
(for the Bill McLaren Shield)
Venue: Stoneyhill @ 3pm
Musselburgh: P Cunningham; O Craig, R Watt©, B Heber, S Watt; D Owenson, F Call; C Owenson, R Mackie, D Miller, J Arnold, J Haynes, M Maltman, G Inkster, M Badenhorst. Subs: C Arthur, R Brown, P Bogie, M Crawford, M McMillan.
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; Gavin Welsh, N Armstrong©, G Woods, K Gossman; B Appleson, P Ritchie; C Imrie, F McAslan, C Crookshank, T Drennan, S Whittaker, C Thomson, K Slingby, J Sole. Subs: G Hall, A Hain, G Napier, B Grainger, J Jones.
Key battle: Raymond Mackie versus Fraser McAslan
Team news –
Musselburgh: Danny Owenson gets the nod ahead of Matt McMillan at 10 and Ollie Craig comes in on the right wing in place of the suspended Rory Hindhaugh. Up front, Michael Maltman and Craig Owenson rotate back into the squad this week and start at back-row and loose-head respectively. Raymond Mackie returns to the starting team at hooker in place of Bob Stott who is now on the long-term injury list.
Edinburgh Accies: Patrick Ritchie, Fraser McAslan and Jamie Sole return to the starting team and Gavin Welsh comes in on the wing, with Chris Thomson moving to blindside while Ben Grainger and Grant Hall revert to the bench. Guy Napier comes into the squad as a replacement.
What the coaches say –
“Winning at Fullarton might have been the worst thing to happen to us this season as it allowed complacency to creep in. Losing to Kelso served to shake off any premature noise about where we might finish this season and a lot can happen in eight games. In some ways, it’s nice to be back where we are most dangerous – pressure off, underrated and underestimated …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)
“This week we head to Stoneyhill to play Musselburgh who will be smarting from last weekend’s defeat versus Kelso at Poynder Park – a feeling we know all too well. We will need to produce one of our best performances of the season to get a result against one of the form teams in the Premiership…” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
Verdict: Edinburgh Accies make the trip to East Lothian having won their last three games and they have hit some good form. Musselburgh secured the result of the season so far with a win at Marr a fortnight ago before being blown away at Kelso last week. From Derek O’Riordan’s words you can sense he is hoping for a reaction – and he might just get one after a high scoring affair …
Selkirk v Glasgow Hawks
Venue: Philiphaugh @ 3pm
Selkirk: C Anderson; B Cullen, B Pickles, R Nixon, J Welsh; Aaron McColm, H Alderson; L Pettie, J Bett, Z Szwagrzak, C Turnbull, A Cochrane, L Cassidy, S McClymont©, Andrew McColm. Subs: B Riddell, J Millburn, J Turnbull, F Wheelans, C Easson.
Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; R Flett, J Pinkerton, W Burrows, S Graham; G Cruickshanks, J Imrie; K Shanahan, P Cairncross, M Goodwin, M Crumlish, S Leckey©, L Stewart, R Howie, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, E Cairns, T Sofidaya, Y Shaheen, D McCartney.
Key battle: Andrew McColm versus Tiaan Wright.
Team news –
Selkirk: Andrew McColm comes into the starting line-up at No 8. Ben Pickles moves to centre for this game with Blake Cullen moving onto the wing. Jamie Turnbull takes his place on the bench after recovering from injury and Finlay Wheelans is available this week and he also starts as a replacement.
Glasgow Hawks: Lewis Stewart and Ryan Howie are not needed to fight the fires this weekend across Glasgow and so come into the back-row for Ewan Brannan, who is on holiday, and Andrew Syme, who has a concussion. Jos McConkey is away to a wedding which allows Wayne Burrows to resume at 12, while Torquil Macleod discovered he broke his hand during the game versus Hawick last weekend on Monday and his absence allows Sam Graham to start on the wing. On the bench, Eben Cairns and David McCartney are there and will be looking to make their first appearances of the season. Tobi Sofidaya is also among the replacements.
What the coaches say –
“I was pleased with how honest the players were about their performance against Currie. The first quarter wasn’t good enough and we can’t afford to give teams early leads, but the attitude from there was excellent and we scored some good team tries. It has been a productive week at training to prepare for what will be another tough game with Glasgow Hawks. We know this will be a physical game from the start and we look forward to this challenge …” – Gordon Henderson (Selkirk)
“Last week was frustrating as errors at the start gave Hawick a 14-point lead which was always going to be hard to chase down. However, all credit to the boys they got themselves back in the mix and if it weren’t for what I felt was a poor decision at a maul on Hawick’s five metre line we may well have gone in front, and it would have asked a huge question of the opposition. Instead, they won two penalties and went up the park and scored, meaning a huge momentum shift after we’d scored either side of half-time. This week’s game versus Selkirk is huge for both clubs. We need to have both backs and forward firing as we’ve had one and not the other throughout the season so far. If we can get both units close to their best we have a pack that can cause anyone problems and a backline that have proved they can score from anywhere. However, we have to be prepared to put our bodies on the line and fight for every inch as when you travel to the Borders to play a team at home they are a different animal …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
Verdict: Glasgow Hawks won the Balgray meeting between these sides 45-19 in September, but expect this to be closer. Both sides have shown in patches in matches what they can do this season, but they will both be after an 80-minute showing here. A settled Hawks’ team with Lewis Stewart back in the number six jersey may just have enough to take the points back up the road.