Premiership preview for Saturday 21st October: runners, riders and verdict

Top visit bottom with Marr heading to Riverside Park where Jed-Forest lie in wait

Still winless Jed face a big challenge with top of the table Marr heading to Riverside Park this weekend. Image: Jon Pearce
Still winless Jed face a big challenge with top of the table Marr heading to Riverside Park this weekend. Image: Jon Pearce

WITH halfway point of the regular season in sight, the teams are not only looking to get the better of each other but also Storm Babet this weekend in round eight of the Premiership.

Leaders Marr are looking to post an impressive seventh win on the spin when they travel to the Borders to take on bottom side Jed-Forest.

Second placed Hawick are in the middle of a three game home run and it should be an entertaining clash when they take on third place Heriot’s Blues, who have been one of the most improved sides in the league this term to date.


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Fourth placed Currie Chieftains will be looking to bounce back from consecutive away defeats against Hawick and Marr when they welcome seventh placed Kelso to Malleny Park, but can expect a tough challenge from the Borderers who have quickly found their feet in the top flight as they demonstrated in last week’s well-deserved win over Edinburgh Accies.

Musselburgh are another team showing good form having got the better of Jed, Heriot’s Blues and Selkirk in recent weeks before pushing Hawick all the way at Mansfield last weekend. They are at home to Glasgow Hawks, who are eighth but will draw confidence from last week’s convincing victory over Jed.

Ninth place Selkirk and sixth placed Edinburgh Accies could both do with a positive result at Philiphaugh.

How it stands –

 

The Lowdown –

Currie Chieftains v Kelso

Venue: Malleny Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: E Crombie; R Daley, DJ Innes, A Harley, M Bradshaw; J Forbes©, C Lessels; T Jeffrey, R Vucago, G Carson, A McCallum, C West, A Bain, S Cardosi, R Davies. Subs: R Stewart, C Anderson, K Steel, P Boyer, M Laidlaw.

Kelso: A Barbour; M Wilson, D Patterson, F Robson©, J Thompson; M Hastie, A Tait; A McGregor, A Frame, A Asante, E Thompson, A Sweenie, K Melbourne, J Glendinning, B McNeil. Subs: E Knox, G Shiells, M Thompson, C Brown, A Utterson.

Key battle: Graeme Carson versus Angus McGregor

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: Thomas Jeffrey and Roy Vucago start this week in the pack and Kyle Steel comes into the squad. There are a few changes in the backs due to injuries picked up by Cammy Gray (concussion) and James McCaig (ankle) last week. Euan Crombie starts at 15, Alex Harley at 12, Matthew Bradshaw at 11 and Matthew Laidlaw comes onto the bench.

Kelso: Terry Logan, Liam Tait and Hamish Tweedie drop out of the squad from last week and are replaced with Morgan Thompson, James Glendinning and Angus Utterson. Charlie Marshall, Cammy Thompson, Archie Cowens, Robbie Tweedie and Liam Herdman remain out injured so the squad depth is being truly tested.

What the coaches say –

“We played well for much of the match last week at Marr, but fell off for about 20 minutes and were punished. After two away defeats on the bounce to Hawick and Marr we are looking to get back on track with a big performance at home to Kelso. It’s going to be a tough, physical battle that will probably be decided in the forwards. Kelso will be looking to kick on after turning over Accies last week, so we will need to be at our best …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“A good win last weekend against Accies has put a positive mood around the camp, unfortunately we took a lot of knocks in a bruising battle and the injury list is long. We have more youngsters getting a chance and this is very positive for us, if we can take the confidence of last week to Currie and impose ourselves we can get something out of the game …”  Bruce McNeil (Kelso)

Verdict: Kelso will travel in good spirits after their impressive win against Accies last time out while, after two losses on the road sandwiched by a postponement, Currie really need to get a positive result under the belt. They are missing a few players behind the scrum, but the Kelso squad is stretched as well.

Home win.

 

Hawick v Heriot’s Blues

Venue: Mansfield Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, C Welsh, A Mitchell, O Gray; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir©, R Anderson, N Little, F Wilson, C Sutherland, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: F Renwick, T Hope, D Redpath, S Goodfellow, A Weir.

Heriot’s Blues: A Hunter; P Christie, B Kay©, T Storen, F Stanier; L Townsend, K Kutsuna; J Lascelles, R Jackson, A Bogle, P Spence, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, I Hill, A Johnston. Subs: D Dineen, B Dineen, M Dillon, G Wilson, P Burns.

Key battle: Calum Renwick versus Innes Hill

Team news –

Hawick: Morgan Tait, Kyle Brunton and Gareth Welsh come into the backline alongside youngster Owain Gray, who is making his first start on the wing for the first team. Russell Anderson, Nicky Little and Calum Renwick come into the pack. Dalton Redpath is back from injury on the bench.

Heriot’s Blues: Angus Munro drops out due to injury, so John Lascelles shifts to loose-head, Archie Bogle starts at tight-head and Billy Dineen comes in on the bench. Pat Spence starts in the second-row while Fraser Stanier starts on the wing, Kenta Kutsuna and Luke Townsend start at 9 and 10 while Graham Wilson and Pete Burns come into the squad on the bench after impressing for the 2nd XV.

What the coaches say –

“For us as a squad, last week’s performance was workmanlike. We were really pleased to get the win, but there were aspects of our game we didn’t get quite right. We have another opportunity this week against a Heriot’s side who are in form, but if we get a few things back to where they need to be then we are hopeful that a big performance is on the cards …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

“This is game three of our five away from home back-to-back and none come any harder than a trip to the reigning champions. We feel we are playing well and hope to give a good account of where we are …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s)

Verdict: Heriot’s mounted a comeback against Musselburgh before just falling short a fortnight ago and then won at Selkirk. If they put the best bits of those two games together they can give themselves a chance here, but with a handful of regulars back Hawick may prove too strong.

Home win.

 

Jed-Forest v Marr

Venue: Riverside Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Jed-Forest: L Young; G Young, O Cranston, D Buckley, L Elder; G Munro, M Glen; S Anderson, H Keith, H Meadows, C Skeldon©, B Howe, B Roff, E Lauder, B Fotheringham. Subs: M Purves, J Hynd, J Ferguson, A Bambrick, B Irvine.

Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Sturgeon, R Baird; A Rogers, S Reekie, A Apthorpe, D Andrew, C Folan, F Grant, K Vallance, B Jardine. Subs: G Dick, M Blair, K McCulloch, G Baird, C Inglis.

Key battle: Ben Fotheringham versus Blair Jardine

Team news –

Jed-Forest: Almost a whole new backline this week, Mark Glen and Gary Munro are at nine and 10, Dom Buckley and Owen Cranston return in the midfield and Gregor Young is on the wing. Blake Roff returns to the forwards after his stint in the centre to bolster the back-row, Steven Anderson gets his first start at loose-head and Ben Howe returns to join captain Clark Skeldon in the second-row.

Marr: Kyle Vallance is back in the number seven jersey after last appearing for the first team away to Currie back in 2021. The front-row is re-jigged with Struan Reekie and Alex Apthorpe starting alongside Ali Rogers. Robbie Baird rotates in for Grant Baird at scrum-half.

What the coaches say –

“We we’re disappointed not to come away with a bonus point last week against Hawks. We had some good passages of play which led to tries, but too many missed tackles were our downfall. Marr will be our toughest challenge yet, the league table tells you that. Jed versus Marr games have always been entertaining, I just hope the weather doesn’t spoil that. Our forwards are working well, but we never seem to have a settled backline. We’ve a few boys back in the starting line-up today, so hopefully that will make a difference. We need to start getting points, it certainly won’t be easy against the league leaders, but we’ll give it our best shot …” – David Grieve (Jed-Forest)

“Last week versus Currie was a tough challenge, but one we were happy to come out on the right side of with some great defensive sets at the end to hold them out. Jed is a tough place to go. We have worked hard this week in preparation for a physical battle and the boys are ready for the challenge. There is no place for complacency and we need to be at our best …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)

Verdict: Jed have a few experienced heads back and that should help as they look to give a better account of themselves than their last home game when they went down 61-0 to Hawick a fortnight ago. Conditions, as with all games this weekend, could play their part, but it is hard to see past another Marr win here.

Away win.

 

Musselburgh v Glasgow Hawks

Venue: Stoneyhill @ 3pm

Teams –

Musselburgh: P Cunningham; R Hindhaugh, R Watt©, R Smith, S Watt; M McMillan, D Owenson; C Owenson, R Stott, D Miller, J Arnold, J Haynes, J Lister, M Crawford, M Maltman. Subs: R Mackie, R Hanning, M Badenhorst, F Call, B Heber.

Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; S Graham, J Pinkerton, J McConkey, T Macleod; G Cruickshanks, J Imrie; M Downer, A Burgess, M Goodwin, M Crumlish, S Leckey©, L Stewart, JP Thomson, T Wright. Subs: R Howie, K Shanahan, A Syme, R Darroch, R Flett.

Key battle: Jak Haynes versus Stephen Leckey

Team news –

Musselburgh: Craig Owenson comes in at loose-head in place of the injured Ross Brown with Matthew Crawford returning to the back-row after his holiday. Michael Maltman returns at No 8 having recovered from a long-term injury. Danny Owenson and Rory Smith rotate into the starting backline meaning Fionn Call and Ben Heber take up places the bench. Raymond Mackie and Michael Badenhorst return to the squad among the replacements.

Glasgow Hawks:Aaron Burgess comes in at hooker for Paul Cairncross who sustained a concussion last week. In the second-row, Max Crumlish replaces Andrew Syme who moves to the bench. The only change in the backs sees Sam Graham coming in on the wing for Harry Provan who is on holiday.

What the coaches say –

“We have been building momentum since the Currie week and I’m really pleased with the consistency of performance we are seeing. Despite that we have let teams back into games when we’ve been in control. Hawks will be more than willing to accept the invite for a hook into the game and with their tails up they are a handful. Another gear will need to be found if we are to take what we want out of this game and continue the progress we are making as a group …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

“Musselburgh have had a great start to the season and we are well aware of the task at hand. They are one of two teams who have six try bonus points from seven games and will be extremely difficult to beat at Stoneyhill. However, we believe if we play like we’ve trained over the past few weeks we can beat anyone, so it’s about transferring that form from training into the match …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

Verdict: Hawks will travel with a bit of confidence having put 57 points past Jed last time out while ‘Burgh pushed hard at Hawick before a tight loss. In their last home game, Musselburgh came out of the blocks flying and if they can do that again and keep the game structured they should have enough.

Home win.

 

Selkirk v Edinburgh Accies

Venue: Philiphaugh @ 3pm

Teams –

Selkirk: C Anderson; B Pickles, J Welsh, A Grant-Suttie, F Wheelans; Aaron McColm, H Alderson; L Pettie, F Easson, J Millburn, A Cochrane, J Turnbull, R Murray, S McClymont©, Andrew McColm. Subs: S Clark, B Riddell, L Cassidy, R Nixon, B Cullen.

Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; F Lindsay, M Wallace, G Woods, K Gossman; B Appleson, P Ritchie; C Imrie, F McAslan, A Hain, T Drennan, C Bain, A Inwood, T Jones, J Sole©. Subs: G Hall, S Habib, D McGrath, B Grainger, F MacNeill.

Key battle: Scott McClymont versus Ted Jones

Team news –

Selkirk: Hugo Alderson gets his first start at scrum-half while Josh Welsh is available this week and resumes his centre partnership with Andrew Grant-Suttie. In the forwards, Jamie Turnbull starts at second-row in place of his brother Callum who picked up an injury last weekend. Jake Millburn is at tight-head. Sam Clark and Liam Cassidy, who have been training and playing well for the ‘A’ team, will get their chance from the bench.

Edinburgh Accies: The backline is unchanged. In the pack, Tom Drennan comes into the second-row with Angus Inwood replacing the injured Finlay Simpson at blindside and Ted Jones getting his first start of the season at openside. No 8 Jamie Sole captains the team. Dom McGrath comes onto the bench for his first involvement this season with Finlay MacNeill returning from injury among the replacements too.

What the coaches say –

“We were all disappointed with how we allowed Heriot’s to win the game last weekend, we had control, but lost out on key moments in our attack that would have kept the scoreboard moving our way. Edinburgh Accies will be tough to break down and we will need to stay fully focused and take opportunities that come our way. They will be desperate to come to Selkirk and get a win after last week’s loss at Kelso. Conditions might play a factor this weekend and we will dig deep in a bid for a win at home …” – Gordon Henderson (Selkirk)

“Results and performances are not going our way, but it has been great to test ourselves as coaches and see our players step up and take responsibility whilst striving to be better. We get to test ourselves against Selkirk away this weekend and I can’t wait to see the growth this team …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

Verdict: Both sides are heading into this one off the back of defeats and it is a very tough one to call. Selkirk will be looking to show the grit that saw them win at Kelso a fortnight ago while three weeks ago Accies scored 32 points at Hawks and, at times, looked like their usual selves. Two defeats have come since then though and they’ll need Jamie Sole to lead by example here. If he can, they might just get through a tight one.

Away win.


Adam Ashe looks ahead to life after rugby with Zappaty

About Gary Heatly 463 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.