Premiership preview for Saturday 16th September: runners, riders and verdict

It's derby day in round three of the campaign

Musselburgh host Currie Chieftains in round three of this Premiership season. Image: © Craig Watson -
Musselburgh host Currie Chieftains in round three of this Premiership season. Image: © Craig Watson -

IT is all about derbies in week three of the Premiership season. In the west, Glasgow Hawks and Marr meet at Balgray with both sides coming off impressive wins in week two, the Troon side being particularly strong to break Hawick’s long-time unbeaten record.

Over in Edinburgh, Heriot’s Blues, in third, meet second placed Edinburgh Accies at Goldenacre as they both look to remain unbeaten. Early season pacesetters Currie Chieftains make the short trip out of the capital to take on Musselburgh at Stoneyhill while there are two all-Borders clashes.

Ninth plays 10th at Philiphaugh as Selkirk and Jed-Forest look to breathe life into their respective campaigns while Hawick and Kelso will meet at Mansfield Park. As part of Hawick’s 150th anniversary celebrations a mural will be unveiled at the ground in the late morning before the game. Both of the Border derbies mentioned are doubling up as Border League fixtures.

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The Lowdown –

Glasgow Hawks v Marr

Venue: Balgray @ 3pm

Teams –

Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; R Darroch, J Pinkerton, W Burrows, J Adamson; L Brims, J Imrie; K Shanahan, P Cairncross, M Goodwin, S Leckey©, A Syme, L Stewart, JP Thomson, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, D Irvine, M Crumlish, G Cruickshanks, J Blair.

Marr: J Scott; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, J Jacobson; C Inglis, G Baird; A Rogers, C McMillan, A Apthorpe, D Andrew, C Folan, F Grant, C Young, B Jardine. Subs: S Clelland, G Dick, M Blair, R Baird, J MacKinnon.

Key battle: Liam Brims versus Calum Inglis

Team news –

Glasgow Hawks: The only change from last week is that the injured Ryan Flett drops out the squad and is replaced by Ross Darroch, who is just returning from his own injury, on the wing.

Marr: Greg Montgomery and Colin Sturgeon are missing, so Jack Scott is at full-back and Calum Inglis is at 10. Murray Blair, Robbie Baird and Jamie MacKinnon are added to the bench.

What the coaches say –

“It’s great to pick a settled squad and it is down to those selected to keep those jersey with members of the 2nd XV looking to back up strong performances last week while there a number of lads available or joining the squad next week who will add quality. For Marr to break Hawick’s unbeaten run is an unbelievable feat especially as they continue to add quality to their squad. Marr fought for everything last week and turned the game into a real scrap by applying pressure right from the start. As a squad we will need to match their hunger and desire if we wish to win. With only Currie and Accies wining both their fixtures so far our aim is to try and get back-to-back wins and build some momentum which is so difficult in this league …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“We have a couple of boys missing with other commitments, but it gives new guys a shot to showcase their talents. We expect a very physical game and Andy will no doubt have prepped his boys well …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)

Verdict: This should be a cracker with Hawks coming into it off the back of scoring 45 points versus Selkirk and Marr having downed Hawick. Hawks only have one change while Marr are missing a couple in the starting XV and some bench men. This could go right the wire, but the confidence Marr gained last week may just get them over the line.

Away win.


Hawick v Kelso

Venue: Mansfield Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, D Redpath, C Sutherland, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: T Hope, F Wilson, G Lowrie, S Goodfellow, C Riddell.

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

Key battle: Jae Linton versus Bruce McNeil

Team news –

Hawick: Connor Sutherland moves into the second-row from the back-row for Fraser Wilson who is on the bench. Stuart Graham comes in at six with Sean Goodfellow and Cian Riddell added to the replacements.

Kelso: Nik Stingl replaces Andy Tait at nine, Euan Thompson starts for the injured Cammy Thompson in the second-row, Ashton Asante gets the nod at tight-head following on from a red card for Terry Logan last weekend. James Thompson looks to make his Premiership debut from the bench along with Morgan Thompson and Keith Melbourne.

What the coaches say –

“After last weekend we are keen to get back to Mansfield and put a few wrongs right. We were frustrated in the manner of our performance at Marr and have worked extremely hard at training this week. Kelso are a quality side who have started the season well and with the added incentive of a Border derby this is sure to be a physical encounter. We must focus on ourselves and the players are excited for this one …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

“A big challenge for this group of players in our first outing away from home against one of the Premiership power houses. Hawick have not lost a game at home for over four years so that tells you what kind of task it will be to get a win. If we get the details right and bring enough physical edge to the match we might can get something out of this game …” – Kevin Utterson (Kelso)

Verdict: Hawick will be hurting from last week’s loss at Marr while Kelso will have taking hope from their opening two draws since promotion. As with most derbies, do not expect this one to be too pretty and Kelso will look to frustrate their hosts and take advantage of any hangover from Troon, but Hawick will be focused and should get the win.

Home win.


Heriot’s Blues v Edinburgh Accies

Venue: Goldenacre @ 3pm

Teams –

Heriot’s Blues: T Storen; A Hunter, R Steele, P Christie, C Meager; D Tomanek, K Kutsuna; A Munro, D Hood, A Bogle, N Docherty, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, S Wallace, A Johnston©. Subs: R Jackson, M Bouab, B Dineen, C Yuill, P Burns.

Edinburgh Accies: S Wells; M Wallace, R Chalmers, N Armstrong, K Gossman; J Loomes©, P Ritchie; C Imrie, G Hall, S Habib, C Bain, S Whittaker, F Simpson, K Slingsby, T Drennan. Subs: F McAslan, A Hain, A Inwood, B Grainger, G Woods.

Key battle: Duncan Hood versus Grant Hall

Team news –

Heriot’s Blues: Last week’s clash with Kelso was a costly afternoon in respect of injurieswith Oisin Quinn and Graham Wilson both fracturing a shoulder and hand, respectively, and Innes Hill receiving a concussion. For this one, Dan Tomanek will get his first start at stand-off with Kenta Kutsuna moving to nine. Young Angus Hunter will also get a first start after impressing on the wing. In the forwards, Duncan Hood, Sam Wallace – fresh from seven tries in three Super Series games – and Rory Jackson all return meaning a bit of juggling around.

Edinburgh Accies: Struan Wells returns at full-back with Robbie Chalmers moving back to outside-centre and George Woods taking a place on the bench in an otherwise unchanged backline.  The only change upfront is Tom Drennan coming in at No 8 while Fraser McAslan returns to the bench.

What the coaches say –

“While there was a bit of immediate frustration after losing a late lead last week, on reflection we are delighted to have picked up three points away to a very strong Kelso team. As is the make-up of the Premiership, there is no time to breathe as we prepare to meet local rivals Edinburgh Accies. They have very much picked up again from last season with two strong performances proving they will once again challenging for the honours. We are hoping that our changes bed in quickly and allow us to have a crack at one of the top sides in the league …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

“The focus this week has been on valuing the possession we have and when we do not have possession really attacking to get it back. We look forward to seeing a big support at Goldenacre for a good derby tussle …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

Verdict: With eight points and 10 league points, respectively, in the bag already this should be an entertaining affair. The attritional nature of the draw at Kelso has left Heriot’s with some injuries, so while they will challenge Accies, the visitors strength-in-depth should see them remain unbeaten.

Away win.


Musselburgh v Currie Chieftains

Venue: Stoneyhill @ 3pm

Teams –

Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; J Ferguson, R Watt©, B Heber, S Watt; D Owenson, F Call; R Brown, R Mackie, C Arthur, J Haynes, J Arnold, G Inkster, M Crawford, J Lister. Subs: D Miller, R Hanning, C Champion, R Smith, O Craig.

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, C Gray, DJ Innes, R Daley, J Forbes©, C Lessels; T Jeffrey, G Carson, O Blyth-Lafferty, W Inglis, A McCallum, A Bain, S Cardosi, R Davies. Subs: K Robertson, S Fisher, C West, M O’Neil, S Leto.

Key battle: Rory Watt versus Cammy Gray

Team news –

Musselburgh: Michael Badenhorst misses out this week having picked up Covid which gives Gavin Inkster his first start in the Premiership at blindside, with Jordan Lister moving to No 8. Jak Haynes returns to take up his place in the second-row and Colin Arthur makes his first start of the season at tight-head. In the backs, Fionn Call impressed off the bench against Accies last week and earns a start at nine meaning Danny Owenson moves to stand-off. James Ferguson moves to the wing with Rory Hindhaugh at 15.

Currie Chieftains: Thomas Jeffrey comes in to start at loose-head with Graeme Carson shifting to hooker in the absence of Ryan Stewart. The backline is unchanged personnel-wise while Sean Fisher and Courtney West join the replacements.

What the coaches say –

“We have been consistently on the wrong side of the results against Currie since our promotion to the Premiership a few years ago. Couple that with the fact they have crossed the line 15 times in the first couple of rounds and the bookies odds would be pretty short on a victory for them this weekend. That presents a great opportunity for us and unburdens the boys to go out and have a crack on Saturday with nothing to lose …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

“We were pleased to win last weekend, but we rarely put more than three phases together all afternoon so we will have to be better going forward and we are looking forward to this game …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

Verdict: Currie have started the season very sharply and will be keen to keep their winning run going in East Lothian. On home turf Musselburgh are a tough nut to crack, but the Chieftains should have enough here.

Away win.


Selkirk v Jed-Forest

Venue: Philiphaugh @ 3pm

Teams –

Selkirk: C Anderson; J Welsh, A Grant-Suttie, R Nixon, F Wheelans; C Easson, Aaron McColm; L Pettie, F Easson, J Millburn, A Cochrane, C Ward, D Nichol, S McClymont©, Andrew McColm. Subs: J Bett, C Turnbull, J Turnbull, A Penman, B Cullen.

Jed-Forest: M Glen; L Elder, G Munro, O Cranston, R Shirra-Gibb; L Walker, A Bambrick; P Ferreira, J Ferguson, H Meadows, C Skeldon©, B Hope, D Wardrop, J Howe, B Roff. Subs: M Weekley, R Briggs, J Hynd, E Lauder, S Murdoch.

Key battle: Andrew McColm versus Blake Roff

Team news –

Selkirk: Bruce Ridell is not available this week due to a hamstring tear while Zen Szwagrzak has a family commitment. Ross Nixon and James Bett are available and come into the squad along with Josh Welsh. Finlay Wheelans moves over to the wing with Callum Anderson now at full-back. Jake Millburn, who played for Olney down South and has committed to Selkirk for this season, starts at tight-head.

Jed-Forest: In the backs, Gary Munro moves to outside centre for the unavailable Gregor Young, Lewis Walker switches from full-back to stand-off, Mark Glen replaces Walker at full-back and Aiden Bambrick starts at scrum-half for the first time this season. In the forwards, Paulo Ferreira and Ben Howe get their first starts of the campaign while Jamie Hynd drops to the bench where he is joined by past captain Michael Weekley, Ryan Briggs, Elliot Lauder and debutant Scott Murdoch.

What the coaches say –

“As a coaching and playing group we were disappointed with the overall performance against Glasgow Hawks, forced errors cost us at key times and we struggled to keep any momentum in the game. We have been working hard over the week on key areas of our game that let us down. The players are buzzing for this game and know we have to perform to another level to gain points against Jed in what will be a tough Border game …” – Gordon Henderson (Selkirk)

“Saturday’s game will be physical. Selkirk are in the same position as ourselves so I’m expecting to see two teams desperate for the points. Both teams have a mixture of youth and experience, the young lads need to gain experience, so what better time than in a Border derby …” – David Grieve (Jed-Forest)

Verdict: This will be a real scrap as both team’s look to get first wins of 2023-24. Jed have made some changes to the make up of the backline to try and get them moving in attack, but with Selkirk having the experienced Ross Nixon back at 12 and with James Bett to bolster the front-row from the bench, they could just shade this one.

Home win.

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About Gary Heatly 457 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.