IT is the return of the Premiership for 2024 – take two!
Last weekend the weather got the better of the already re-arranged Currie Chieftains versus Hawick and Glasgow Hawks versus Kelso encounters. The former match is now due to be played on Saturday with third taking on first and both squads looking strong, so it should be a cracker.
Meanwhile, seventh plays ninth at Raeburn Place with Edinburgh Accies welcoming Glasgow Hawks to the capital. Hosts Accies know they need a good run – starting here – if they are to make the play-offs for a third successive year since the pandemic while Hawks will be out to put a spanner in the works.
How it stands –
The Lowdown –
Currie Chieftains v Hawick
Venue: Malleny Park @ 2pm
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; R Daley, J Reynolds, DJ Innes, J McCaig; J Forbes©, G Christie; T Jeffrey, R Stewart, G Carson, C West, A Bain, R Davies, K Steel, S Cardosi. Subs: C Anderson, J Ramsay, A Fletcher, P Boyer, C Beckett.
Hawick: K Ford; C Welsh, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton, D Lightfoot; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, D Redpath, F Wilson, D Brooker, C Renwick, S Graham. Subs: R Anderson, R Graham, C Sutherland, G Welsh, R Purvis.
Key battle: Rhys Davies versus Dan Brooker
Team news –
Currie Chieftains: A few changes from the squad that was listed last week. In the forwards, Kyle Steel starts and Archie Fletcher comes onto the bench. In the backs, Gregor Christie starts at nine and Joe Reynolds is at 13 with Callum Beckett coming onto the bench.
Hawick: They are unchanged from the squad that was set to play last week. That means that Fraser Renwick returns from injury to start at hooker and Dan Brooker makes his first start since the Musselburgh game playing in his preferred position at six. Ross Graham is a replacement after suspension and Ryan Purvis is set to make his debut off the bench after strong performances for the Force [2nd XV] since joining from City of Armagh RFC in Northern Ireland.
What the coaches say –
“We are looking forward to hosting the reigning league champions at Malleny Park this weekend. I was pleased with our performances leading up to Christmas, but this is the ultimate test of where we are at. It’s great to have Jamie Forbes back in the team and Joe Reynolds starts at 13 which allows Gregor Christie to play in his preferred nine position. Matty Douglas and his coaching team continue to do a great job at Hawick and they will be very tough to beat, but we are at home and when we play our best at Malleny we don’t lose …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)
“We head back up the A7 to Malleny for the second time in a week, hopefully the weather plays ball and we can get back into league action. It is a massive game for both teams and we have prepped well and are excited by the challenge that awaits us against Currie. They’re unbeaten at home this season and they’ll feel they can continue that trend, but we will be ready for the pressure we will be under and these sorts of games are the ones we look forward to. It will come down to who takes their opportunities and deals with the pressure best throughout the game – we can’t wait …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)
Verdict: Currie have won their last six league matches since a loss to Edinburgh Accies at the end of October while Hawick have won their last 12 since going down to Marr in early September. Both sides are fairly settled while they are boosted by the availability of key men Jamie Forbes and Fraser Renwick respectively. This really is too tight to call, but Currie have won six out of six so far at home this term and may feel they have a score to settle with Hawick, although the latter may also be aggrieved at having travelled north last week for no game.
A tight home win.
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Edinburgh Accies v Glasgow Hawks
Venue: Raeburn Place @ 2pm
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; R Kent, N Armstrong©, G Woods, M Wallace; B Appleson, P Ritchie; C Imrie, C Davies, C Crookshanks, C Bain, R Thompson, T Drennan, D McGrath, A Wood. Subs: F McAslan, R Dunbar, S Whittaker, M Love, C Allan.
Glasgow Hawks: W Burrows; J Couper, J Pinkerton, C Ferrie, R Flett; D McCartney, J Imrie; K Shanahan, P Cairncross©, E Cairns, M Crumlish, S Halafihi, A Syme, C Nolan, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, F Muir, M Goodwin, B Skinner, B Morriss.
Key battle: Dom McGrath versus Craig Nolan
Team news –
Edinburgh Accies: Robbie Kent returns to the starting line-up for the first time this season in an otherwise settled backline. Cal Davies starts at hooker with Alistair Wood coming in at No 8. Struan Whittaker returns from injury to take a place on the bench alongside Max Love and Connor Allan.
Glasgow Hawks: Craig Nolan comes in from the Scotland under-20 camp to start at seven in place of JP Thomson who is unavailable. Calum Ferrie also comes in at 12 and with Sam Graham and Jos McConkey injured, the teenager will be looking to make an impression on under-20s head coach Kenny Murray here having been injured himself since mid-November. On the bench, Marcus Goodwin has gone through his return-to-play protocol following a head knock while Team Scotland Commonwealth Youth Games sevens gold medal winner Ben Morriss will look to make his top team debut off the bench.
What the coaches say –
“After 18 weeks straight, it was nice to give the players a well-earned rest over Christmas, although we were delighted to get a hit-out versus Preston Lodge last Thursday to prepare the players physically for what is to come and blow the cobwebs out after the festive break. We welcome Hawks to Raeburn Place this weekend and we know that their league position does not reflect the performances they have put in so we will need to turn up physically, but also be brave enough to impose our game on them …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
“Accies are always a well-drilled, stuffy team who pride themselves on their defence and game management. They have a strong set piece with one of the best scrums in the league so we know we will have to be at our best to nullify this. We have to look to win the physical battle up front to release our backs with time and space to challenge the Accies backline and we know if we can do that then we will cause them problems …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
Verdict: Accies have not played since December 9th and lost their last four before the break so they will want to return to winning ways here and having Robbie Kent back is important. Hawks were due to have a run out against Kelso last week before the weather intervened and having Craig Nolan available for this one is a boost. If the Accies pack can get off to a good start here then it should give their team the platform needed for victory.