Premiership preview for weekend 16th and 17th February: runners, riders and verdict

Home play-off up for grabs when Currie Chieftains host Marr under the Friday night lights at Malleny

Currie Chieftains and Marr are both chasing a win at Malleny Park tonight so as to secure home advantage when they meet again in the Premiership play-off semi-finals on 2nd March. Image: Ian Gidney
Currie Chieftains and Marr are both chasing a win at Malleny Park tonight so as to secure home advantage when they meet again in the Premiership play-off semi-finals on 2nd March. Image: Ian Gidney

THE Premiership play-off line-up will be finalised tonight when Currie Chieftains take on Marr, both sides are already safely into the semi-finals, but whoever wins this final outing of the regular season will have home advantage in the semi-final on March 2nd.

Meanwhile, Kelso will look to keep momentum up ahead of their play-off semi-final at Hawick in a fortnight when they take on ninth placed Glasgow Hawks on the road on Saturday afternoon, and seventh takes on eighth at Goldenacre with Heriot’s Blues eyeing up a jump to fifth place if they can navigate past Selkirk.

How it stands –


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Friday Night Lights –

Currie Chieftains v Marr

Venue: Malleny Park @ 7.30pm (Friday)

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, DJ Innes, I Sim, R Daley; J Forbes ©, G Christie; T Jeffrey, R Stewart, G Carson, A Bain, C West, R Davies, A Fletcher, S Cardosi. Substitutes: R Vucago, O Blyth-Lafferty, J Ramsay, P Boyer, C Beckett.

Marr: G Montgomery; L Jarvie, C Bickerstaff, N Calder, J Scott; C Sturgeon, G Baird; A Rogers, B Sweet, W Farquhar, D Andrew, F Grant, A Anthorpe, B Johnston, B Jardine. Substitutes: C McMillan, C Young, E Hamilton-Bulger, R Baird, G Beckwith.

Key battle: DJ Innes versus Conor Bickerstaff

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: Ollie Blyth-Lafferty, the 17-year-old Scotland under-20 prop, is back in the squad and will look to make an impact off the bench. Paddy Boyer is also added to the replacements to cover the backs.

Marr: Greg Montgomery and Logan Jarvie come into the backline with David Andrew restored in the second-row.

What the coaches say –

“It’s great to host Marr under lights at Malleny, we are expecting a big turnout and the guys are really looking forward to the match. As we know the winner books themselves home advantage in the play-offs so we know Marr will throw everything at us. Marr have always been a tough team to break down, but have developed their attacking options under Kenny [Diffenthal] and also have lots of individual threats that we’ll be trying to keep quiet. The boys have prepped well this week and we played really well against Accies in our last outing. We’ll need that level of performance and intensity again to come out on top …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“Friday night games are few and far between so we’re all looking forward to it. We have prepared really well for a really physical contest as we know what Currie will bring. Mark [Cairns] and his troops are always well drilled and play a good brand of rugby so we need to be at our best. Everybody wants to be at home for any finals rugby so it’s going to be a good contest …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)

Verdict: Since a defeat to Kelso before Christmas, Marr have beaten Jed-Forest and Musselburgh. Currie also lost to Kelso recently and then beat Edinburgh Accies. This will be an entertaining game under the lights, but home advantage may just see Currie over the line in a close affair.

Home win.

 

 

When Saturday comes –

Glasgow Hawks v Kelso

Venue: Balgray @ 2pm

Teams –

Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; R Flett, F Callaghan, J Blair, T Macleod; D McCartney, J Imrie; K Shanahan, P Cairncross©, M Goodwin, S Leckey©, S Halafihi, L Stewart, R Howie, T Wright. Subs: M Crumlish, E Cairns, C Nolan, J McConkey, R Speers.

Kelso: A Barbour; J Thompson, D Patterson, F Robson©, R Tweedie; M Hastie, A Tait; A McGregor, E Knox, T Logan, E Thompson, C Thompson, K Melbourne, C Brown, B McNeil. Subs: J Glendinning, C Marshall,  A Asante, M Woodcock, N Stingl.

Key battle: Lewis Stewart versus Keith Melbourne

Team news –

Glasgow Hawks: A new-look front-row with Kyle Shanahan and Marcus Goodwin returning, meaning Eben Cairns moves to the bench while Fraser Muir is out injured. Skipper Stephen Leckey from injury in the second-row while Ryan Howie is also available in the back-row. In the backs, Jamie Blair comes in for the injured Calum Ferrie while Finlay Callaghan moves back to 13 with James Pinkerton off to New Zealand for at least a year. Ryan Flett also comes back in to fill the void on the wing after recovering from injury. Jos McConkey makes a welcome return to the matchday 20 having also been out since Christmas with an injury while Ross Speers gets a well-deserved opportunity having been a consistent performer with the 2nd XV.

Kelso: Grant Shiells is absent so Angus McGregor gets a well-earned start at loose-head. Cammy Thompson comes in for Murray Woodcock in a rotation process.

What the coaches say –

“Full credit has to go to Bruce [McNeil] and his coaching team getting Kelso into the play-offs the first time of asking. They have developed their game and built in confidence after they gave us a spanking down in Poynder earlier in the season. The lads learnt that day that if you don’t front up and win the physical contest then it’s a long day at the office, and that has been the focus this week. We are looking to back up a decent performance at Heriot’s and prove we have the ability within the squad to be a top four team if we get the right mindset and consistency in our performance …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“Tough afternoon in store for us away to Hawks who picked up a great win away to Heriot’s last time out. A big, physical up-front battle is expected and we must be fully focused on this match and try to carry momentum into the semi-final …” – Bruce McNeil (Kelso)

Verdict: Hawks put in one of their best showings of the season away to Heriot’s a fortnight ago, but Kelso have been in good form and a settled squad should send them into the play-offs with a victory.

Away win.

 

 

Heriot’s Blues v Selkirk

Venue: Goldenacre @ 2pm

Teams –

Heriot’s Blues: A Hunter; P Christie, R Jones, K Kutsuna, C Meager; L Townsend, G Wilson; A Munro, F Thomas, S Cessford, J Hill, M Keough, C Shand, I Hill, R Kirkpatrick©. Subs: R Jackson, B Dineen, T Dunn, R Thomson, H Hitchen.

Selkirk: C Anderson; F Wheelans, J Welsh, A Grant-Suttie, B Cullen; C Easson, A McColm; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, Andrew McColm, A Cochrane, L Cassidy, S McClymont©, K Westlake. Subs: S Clark, R McFadzen, C Turnbull, R Murray, C McNeil.

Key battle: Ross Jones versus Josh Welsh

Team news –

Heriot’s Blues: Callum Shand and Innes Hill come into the starting XV due to a couple of injuries in the pack.

Selkirk: Bruce Riddell starts in the front-row in place of Zen Szwagrzak who is on international duty with Poland. Ross McFadzen is on the bench to cover fron- row along with Sam Clark. With Ross Nixon and Hugo Alderson unavailable f, Josh Welsh starts in the midfield along with Andrew Grant-Suttie, WHILE Aaron McColm is at scrum half with Cameron Easson getting a start at stand-off.

What the coaches say –

“The players are keen to finish the season on a high, with a win enough to secure a top five finish. Ignoring the loss to Hawick, Selkirk have been on a good run, so will clearly bring many challenges that we will need to be ready for. If we can get a break in the weather I’m sure it will be an end of season cracker …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

“Players and coaches were disappointed with how we played against Hawick in our last game and want to put that right against a strong Heriot’s team at home with our aim is to finish the league campaign with a solid performance. This week’s training has been positive and we will head up to Edinburgh looking for points and we will need to take the scoring opportunities to keep us in the game …” – Gordon Henderson (Selkirk)

Verdict: The lure of a fifth place finish should be enough to give Heriot’s Blues the drive to get over the line here.

Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 455 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.

2 Comments

  1. A sensible person would understand that when a team wins it isn’t because the opponents bottled it. Some credit to the victors is due.

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