OVER the last couple of years, Marr versus Currie Chieftains matches have been up there with some of the best that the Premiership has had to offer and the two sides meet in Troon on Saturday. It is first against third and it should be a cracking contest and not one for the faint hearted.
Second-placed Hawick against Musselburgh in fifth is also an intriguing week seven fixture, while fourth placed Heriot’s Blues will be out to bounce back from a late loss in East Lothian to Musselburgh when they travel to seventh placed Selkirk.
Sixth placed Edinburgh Accies are on their travels to eighth placed Kelso and bottom side Jed-Forest are at ninth placed Glasgow Hawks in a crucial meeting.
How it stands –
The Lowdown –
Glasgow Hawks v Jed-Forest
Venue: Balgray @ 3pm
Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; T Macleod, J Pinkerton, J McConkey, H Provan; G Cruickshanks, J Imrie; M Downer, P Cairncross, K Shanahan, S Leckey©, A Syme, L Stewart, JP Thomson, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, F Muir, T Sofidaya, R Howie, H Lapslie.
Jed-Forest: L Young; M Glen, J Murray, B Roff, R Shirra-Gibb; L Walker, L Elder; M Purves, H Keith, H Meadows, C Skeldon©, J Hynd, D Wardrop, E Lauder, B Fotheringham. Subs: S Anderson, M Weekley, H Stenhouse, R Thomson, O Cranston.
Key battle: Stephen Leckey versus Clark Skeldon.
Team news –
Glasgow Hawks: Lewis Stewart comes in at six while Kyle Shanahan has returned from injury and starts at tight-head with Marcus Goodwin in France watching the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. In the backs, James Pinkerton returns from injury to take his place at 13 and, with Sam Graham unavailable, Jos McConkey moves to 12. Torquil Macleod comes in to make his first start on the wing and High School of Glasgow pupil Harry Provan will make his debut on the other wing after standing out in training the last few weeks and not having school commitments due to the October week. Fraser Muir could debut off the bench while Ryan Howie returns among the replacements after a long lay-off with a mystery infection.
Jed-Forest: In the backs, Mark Glen and James Murray come in place of Gregor Young and Owen Cranston, the latter dropping to the bench. Lewis Elder and Lewis Walker continue at half-back in the absence of Aidan Bambrick and Gary Munro. Up front, Harry Meadows starts at tight-head, Dan Wardrop moves from 8 to 6, with Ben Fotheringham returning to No 8. Young Hamish Stenhouse drops to the bench after his debut last Saturday.
What the coaches say –
“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get the chance to get a run out last week versus Currie and it’s allowed teams to move ahead of us. The table doesn’t lie and we are where we are as the results haven’t been good enough after a hard run of games. We have to get back to winning ways and Jed will be just as desperate as we are to get a result. After last year’s game at Balgray, they will come with confidence knowing they can win. However, it’s down to us to put together a performance we know we are capable of for the full 80 minutes. If we do that I believe we have the team to beat anyone on our day …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
“Having Harry Meadows and Ben Fotheringham returning to the pack is a huge boost for us. Both are big ball carriers which we’ll need against Hawks. We beat Hawks with the last play of the game last season after a hard fought contest and both Hawks and ourselves are desperate for points, so I don’t see Saturday’s game being any different …” – David Grieve (Jed-Forest)
Verdict: Hawks were inactive last weekend, having lost the last three games they played before that. Jed are still looking for their first win of the campaign after a painful home reverse against Hawick last time out. The visitors do have a few key men back and that will boost them here, but Hawks have Lewis Stewart and James Pinkerton returning too and if they can get dominance up front they should return to winning ways.
Hawick v Musselburgh
Venue: Mansfield Park @ 3pm
Hawick: K Ford; F Anderson, C Welsh, A Mitchell, R McKean; A Weir, S Goodfellow; S Muir©, D Brooker, T Hope, F Wilson, S Frizzel, S Graham, C Sutherland, J Linton. Subs: N Little, R Linton, H Donaldson, D Lightfoot, G Welsh.
Musselburgh: P Cunningham; R Hindhaugh; R Watt©, B Heber, S Watt; M McMillan, F Call; R Brown, R Stott, D Miller, J Haynes, J Arnold, J Lister, G Inkster, P Bogie. Subs: R Hanning, C Arthur, M Outram, D Owenson, R Smith.
Key battle: Dan Brooker versus Robert Stott.
Team news –
Hawick: In the backs, Charlie Welsh comes in for the unavailable Lee Armstrong with Andrew Mitchell shifting to 12 as a result. Ali Weir, who hung up his boots in 2021, but has been playing recently for the Force [2nd XV] is at 10 with Kyle Brunton unavailable. New arrival from New Zealand Dan Brooker is at hooker while fit again Nicky Little is on the bench along with Glen Welsh.
Musselburgh: Paul Bogie and Gavin Inkster come into the pack to replace the injured Michael Badenhorst and the unavailable Matthew Crawford. James Ferguson picked up a knock last week that will keep him out for up to six weeks meaning Rory Hindhaugh moves to the wing to make room for Paul Cunningham at full-back. Max Outram and Colin Arthur return to the squad on the bench.
What the coaches say –
“We are coming off the back of a good away performance at Jed last week where we were clinical in horrible conditions and took our chances well. We have a new test this week with a few unavailabilities and injuries, but we feel we have a quality squad on paper and are excited to see some players getting their opportunity like new signing Dan Brooker from Christchurch and Ali Weir who has played over 150 games for Hawick. Musselburgh are on a good run of form and have won twice already in the Borders this season. We will need to be at our best to make sure we continue on the good run of form we are in at the minute …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)
“The parting shot from the Hawick coaches last November was for us to enjoy National One. Sadly, we didn’t get an opportunity to do that this year, so we will just have to settle for a trip to Mansfield Park on Saturday instead …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)
Verdict: This should be a cracker. Hawick have won their last four since defeat to Marr while Musselburgh have had three victories on the bounce including two in the Borders at Jed-Forest and Selkirk. The hosts are missing a few players while Michael Badenhorst will be a big loss for the visitors. Derek O’Riordan will have his boys pumped up but a win at Mansfield is a big ask.
Kelso v Edinburgh Accies
Venue: Poynder Park @ 3pm
Kelso: A Barbour; H Tweedie, D Patterson, F Robson©, J Thompson; M Hastie, A Tait; A McGregor, E Knox, T Logan, C Brown, K Melbourne, L Tait, M Woodcock, B McNeil. Subs: A Frame, A Asante, A Sweenie, E Thompson, M Wilson.
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; F Lindsay, M Wallace, G Woods, K Gossman; B Appleson, P Ritchie; C Imrie, F McAslan, A Hain, C Bain, S Whittaker, F Simpson©, M Walker, J Sole. Subs: G Hall, S Habin, A Inwood, B Grainger, S Wells.
Key battle: Terry Logan versus Cole Imrie.
Team news –
Kelso: James Glendinning, Grant Sheills, Charlie Marshall and Robbie Tweedie all drop out from the squad from last weekend and in come Angus McGregor, Euan Thompson, Allan Frame and Mark Wilson.
Edinburgh Accies: Robbie Chalmers moves to full-back, Max Wallace moves to outside-centre and Fraser Lindsay and Kerr Gossman come onto the wings. Also in the backs, Ben Appleson replaces the injured regular skipper Jamie Loomes at 10. Cole Imrie and Arran Hain come in at loose-head and tight-head respectively in an otherwise unchanged pack. Scott Habib returns to the bench alongside Ben Grainger and Struan Wells.
What the coaches say –
“After a disappointing afternoon last weekend against Selkirk where we let the game slip away from us, we now look to rectify the situation this week when we welcome the experienced Edinburgh Accies to Poynder Park. We are undoubtedly the underdogs going into this, so we must look for a full 80-minute performance to look to get the win we need …” – Bruce McNeil (Kelso)
“We were disappointed as a group to lose last week’s game, but as always when losing you have an opportunity to learn why. That is something the players have taken real responsibility for this week. We head to Poynder Park to play Kelso – a fantastic ground and club and it is great to see them back in the Premiership. However, this is a game we must win …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
Verdict: Both teams come into this one after tight home losses. Both squads have a number of changes in them and both camps are in determined mood. It’ll be a tough battle, but Accies’ head coach Iain Berthinussen says it is a ‘must-win’ and his charges should do that if their changed props can get a foothold.
Marr v Currie Chieftains
(for the Bill McLaren Shield)
Venue: Fullarton Park @ 3pm
Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Sturgeon, G Baird; B Sweet, C McMillan, A Rogers, D Andrew, F Grant, A Apthorpe, C Young, B Jardine. Subs: S Reekie, C Smith, B Johnston, R Baird, J MacKinnon.
Currie Chieftains: S Leto; R Daley, DJ Innes, C Gray, J McCaig; J Forbes©, C Lessels; C Anderson, R Stewart, G Carson, A McCallum, C West, A Bain, S Cardosi, R Davies. Subs: R Vucago, T Jeffrey, W Inglis, P Boyer, M Bradshaw.
Key battle: Blair Jardine versus Rhys Davies.
Team news –
Marr: Brandon Sweet and Curran McMillan come into the front-row and Ali Rogers moves to tight-head from loose. Alex Apthorpe moves to the back-row as does Cameron Young while Greg Montgomery and Jack Scott start in the back three.
Currie Chieftains: The backs are unchanged from the team that was due to start against Hawks last week. In the pack, Rhys Davies is available so starts at No 8 with Roy Vucago moving to the bench. Thomas Jeffrey and Will Inglis are both available this week and so come into the squad among the replacements.
What the coaches say –
“Last week versus Accies we were not at the races for the first 30 minutes and fair play to the opposition they put us under a lot of pressure and took their chances. It was great to scrape through, but we have to learn to start better. This week Currie are going to be a big challenge. Mark [Cairns] and Ally [Donaldson] will have the boys ready to come to Fullarton and we have to be at our best to meet the challenge. Stephen [Adair] and myself have worked hard this week to get the boys ready to try and meet this challenge head on. We look forward to a good contest …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)
“We were disappointed not to have an opportunity to play last week to try and heal the wounds left after our trip to Mansfield Park. We learned a lot from the Hawick game and I am hoping to see a much improved performance on the road this week. Marr are deservedly sitting top of the league and even though they were disappointed with their performance last week away to Accies they still found a way to win. It’s going to be a tough, physical encounter which we have prepared really well for …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)
Verdict: These two teams along with Hawick have been the best three in the league over the last couple of years and Marr-Currie meetings never disappoint. Marr will be looking for a fourth home win of the season and a third defence of the Bill McLaren Shield while Currie have been stewing for two weeks since the loss at Hawick. A full-blooded encounter on the cards which the Troon men should shade.
Selkirk v Heriot’s
Venue: Philphaugh @ 3pm
Selkirk: C Anderson; B Pickles, A Grant-Suttie, R Nixon, F Wheelans; Aaron McColm, R Legge; L Pettie, B Riddell, J Millburn, A Cochrane, C Turnbull, J Turnbull, S McClymont©, Andrew McColm. Subs: F Easson, Z Szwagrzak, C Ward, J Beveridge, B Cullen.
Heriot’s Blues: A Hunter; P Christie, B Kay©, T Storen, C Meager; K Kutsuna, K Singleton; A Munro, R Jackson, J Lacelles, N Docherty, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, I Hill, A Johnston. Subs: D Dineen, A Bogle, P Spence, L Townsend, J McNaughton.
Key battle: Ryan Legge versus Keir Singleton.
Team news –
Selkirk: Ryan Legge gets a start at scrum-half with Aaron McColm moving back to his usual position at stand-off. Josh Welsh is unavailable this week so Ross Nixon and Andrew Grant-Suttie make up the centre partnership. In the forwards, the only change from last week is in the front-row where Jake Millburn starts at tight-head. Josh Beveridge of Boroughmuir Bears is back in the squad on the bench.
Heriot’s Blues: Rory Jackson starts at hooker with John Lascelles at tight-head. In the backs, Kenta Kutsuna returns at 10 and teams up with Keir Singleton who comes into the team at nine. Danny Dineen has earned a spot on the bench after impressing for the seconds.
What the coaches say –
“Last Saturday’s game at Kelso was another tough Border battle, the work rate from the players in the second half got us over the line as they are a hard team to break down. We will need to operate at the same level against Heriot’s this week. We are desperate to put in a strong performance at home and have been working hard in training to improve on last week’s game …” – Gordon Henderson (Selkirk)
“A tough one to take last weekend, particularly after coming back from a large deficit at half-time. However, the young squad are ready to go again and are looking forward to the tussle Selkirk will clearly provide …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)
Verdict: Much here will depend on how new half-back pairings settle in for both sides. Selkirk have lost two of their three home games so far this term while Heriot’s have not won on the road as yet although did draw at Kelso. This is a very difficult one to call.