MATCH of the day in the Premiership this weekend is at Mansfield Park where Hawick take on Currie Chieftains in a repeat of last year’s Grand Final when the 13-man hosts came back from 18-14 down to score a dramatic last-minute winner through winger Ronan McKean, converted by Kirk Ford, to get their hands on the trophy.
So far this term, Currie have been unstoppable and have 20 points from 20 to lead the way while Hawick are third with 13 points.
Second placed Marr and Kelso, in sixth, both had good wins last time out and they meet at Fullarton Park with the Bill McLaren Shield up for grabs.
Fourth placed Heriot’s Blues will be out to bounce back after a big loss last week and they host winless bottom side Jed-Forest at Goldenacre.
Eighth plays fifth with both Glasgow Hawks and Edinburgh Accies looking to get back to winning ways at Balgray while seventh placed Musselburgh are at ninth placed Selkirk.
How it stands –
The Lowdown –
Glasgow Hawks v Edinburgh Accies
Venue: Balgray @ 3pm
Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; R Speers, S Graham, J Blair, J McConkey; G Cruickshanks, J Imrie; M Downer, P Cairncross©, M Goodwin, M Crumlish, A Syme, L Stewart, JP Thomson, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, D Irvine, S Halafihi, H Lapslie, T MacLeod.
Edinburgh Accies: S Wells; R Lile, M Wallace, G Woods, F MacNeill; J Loomes©, P Ritchie; C Imrie, F McAslan, C Crookshanks, C Bain, S Whittaker, T Drennan, K Slingsby, J Sole. Subs: G Hall, R Dunbar, A Wood, E McAra, R Walsh.
Key battle: Mike Downer versus Calum Crookshanks.
Team news –
Glasgow Hawks: A fair few changes to the starting line up with Paul Cairncross – who will captain – and James Imrie returning from injury and James Couper available. Mike Downer has trained all week and Max Crumlish, who was a last-minute replacement for Stephen Leckey, starts this week. Liam Brims and James Pinkerton are not fit to play, so Gavin Cruickshanks comes in at 10 and Jamie Blair moves to his more accustomed role of inside centre which sees Sam Graham move out one to 13. Jos McConkey comes in to start on the wing as does Ross Speers after impressing with the seconds. On the bench, Sione Halafihi is back in the squad and Torquil MacLeod will look to make his debut off the bench.
Edinburgh Accies: Max Wallace moves to outside centre and Ross Lile takes his place on the wing in an otherwise unchanged backline. In the forwards, Calum Crookshanks returns at tight-head and Tom Drennan comes in at blindside. Ross Dunbar, Ally Wood, Euan McAra and Reuben Walsh come onto the bench.
What the coaches say –
“There is no getting away from last week’s disappointing performance. It was a perfect storm after losing a few senior players in the Marr game, a poor week’s training with new faces being implemented, James Pinkerton having to drop out the warm-up and battle through the game with an injury and then losing talismanic leader Stephen Leckey before a ball was kicked. However, credit where credit is due, Kelso had a good game-plan, were emotionally on point and battered us. We have not became a bad team overnight and the senior players have been brilliant this week at refocusing and getting us back on track. There was still a bit of a hangover on Tuesday, but the boys trained brilliantly on Thursday and will look to get back to playing the brand of rugby we know we are capable of on both sides of the ball. This week has been solely focusing on us and getting us primed for what we know will be a tough game against Accies. The boys are excited to go get back out on the pitch and put in a performance we know we are capable of …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
“There are areas of our game we need to put pressure on ourselves as a group to get better and which will allow us to continue to put pressure on the opposition. Games are coming thick and fast, and we must get back to winning ways this weekend versus Glasgow Hawks away …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
Verdict: There is no doubt that Hawks were very frustrated with what happened at Kelso last time out and there will be a reaction on home turf. A lot of changes may make it tricky to gel from the off and Accies will look to take advantage.
Hawick v Currie Chieftains
Venue: Mansfield Park @ 3pm
Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton, S Goodfellow; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, F Wilson, D Redpath, S Graham, C Sutherland, J Linton. Subs: R Anderson, T Hope, S Frizzel, D Lightfoot, C Welsh.
Currie Chieftains: S Leto; R Daley, DJ Innes, C Gray, J McCaig; J Forbes©, C Lessels; C Anderson, R Vucago, G Carson, A McCallum, C West, A Bain, S Cardosi, R Davies. Subs: R Stewart, S Fisher, W Inglis, M O’Neil, E Crombie.
Key battle: Sean Goodfellow versus Cameron Lessels.
Team news –
Hawick: Gareth Welsh and Calum Renwick are unavailable, so Sean Goodfellow and Connor Sutherland come in at nine and seven respectively. Sam Frizzel, Deaglan Lightfoot and Charlie Welsh join the bench.
Currie Chieftains: Chris Anderson, Ali Bain and Will Inglis are available this week in the forwards. The backs are settled apart from Sam Leto replacing the injured Charlie Brett at full-back.
What the coaches say –
“We are looking forward to a huge game at Mansfield Park this weekend against Currie who have started the season in great form, putting in some big performances. We were very pleased with the way we won at Accies last week and have tweaked the little things we didn’t get right at Raeburn Place. We know what sort of mindset and performance that is needed to get a result this weekend, we have worked hard through the week to ensure we are in the best possible place going into the weekend. We know we need to be at our best back at home and can’t wait for it …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)
“We were really pleased with our first 40 minutes against Heriot’s last Saturday, but know we will need an 80 minute performance to trouble the champions at Mansfield Park. After the disappointment of the Marr game, Hawick have come back with a very strong home performance against Kelso and a really gritty win against Accies on the road. It’s great to have some key players back this weekend, there is healthy competition for places and we have prepared well and are looking forward to the challenge …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)
Verdict: This will be a tight game, but it should be an entertaining one as these two sides and Marr have been the best in the league in the last couple of years. Hawick’s team is fairly settled while Currie have been boosted by the return of some strong forwards. It could go down to the wire.
Heriot’s Blues v Jed-Forest
Venue: Goldenacre @ 3pm
Heriot’s Blues: A Hunter; J McNaughton, P Christie, T Storen, C Meager; K Kutsuna, C Yuill; A Munro, D Hood, A Bogle, N Docherty, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, I Hill, A Johnston©. Subs: R Jackson, J Lascelles, P Spence, K Singleton, F Carden.
Jed-Forest: M Glen; L Walker, L Young, O Cranston, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, A Bambrick; P Ferreira, J Ferguson, H Meadows, C Skeldon©, B Howe, D Wardrop, E Lauder, B Roff. Subs: M Weekley, J Story, B Fotheringham, J Howe, L Elder.
Key battle: Trent Storen versus Owen Cranston.
Team news –
Heriot’s Blues: A number of changes this week with Duncan Hood, Malachy Keough, Rory Jackson and John Lascelles returning in the forwards with exciting young lock Pat Spence looking to make his debut off the bench. In the backs, Cammy Meager and Trent Storen return with Keir Singleton hoping to debut off the bench after breaking a finger prior to the first league match.
Jed-Forest: Owen Cranston and Lewis Young replace Dom Buckley and Gregor Young in the centres. On the bench, Michael Weekley, John Story, Ben Fotheringham and Jack Howe come in.
What the coaches say –
“Obviously, there was a lot of disappointment at Malleny last week, with us not really firing a shot against a very trigger-happy Currie team. We are hoping the changes – and not hitting the panic button – will allow us to play better against a Jed team who will no doubt be desperate to get a first win of the season …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)
“Our loss to Musselburgh was a hard one to take, I thought the boys dug deep to come back from three tries down to take the lead. The game was there for the taking last week and we didn’t take it. The trip to Goldenacre is another tough one, Heriot’s Blues have been going well and will be wanting to make up for Saturday’s defeat to Currie. We have to stop conceding soft tries at crucial parts of matches, if we do that then we have a good chance of bringing home points from Saturday’s game …” – David Grieve (Jed-Forest)
Verdict: Jed were annoyed not to have held on to win against Musselburgh last week while Heriot’s never really got going against a cut-throat Currie side. Jed have a settled team and that should help, but if Heriot’s can get their attacking shape right they may be too strong on home turf.
Marr v Kelso
(for the Bill McLaren Shield)
Venue: Fullarton Park @ 3pm
Marr: J MacKinnon; G Montgomery, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff©, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon, G Baird; A Rogers, S Reekie, A Apthorpe, D Andrew, C Folan, F Grant, C Young, B Jardine. Subs: G Dick, C Smith, M Blair, R Baird, J Scott.
Kelso: A Barbour; H Tweedie, J Thompson, F Robson©, N Stingl; D Patterson, A Tait; A Mcgregor, E Knox, T Logan, E Thompson, K Melbourne, L Tait, C Brown, B McNeil. Subs: C Marshall, A Asante, A Sweenie, M Woodcock, M Hastie.
Key battle: Struan Reekie versus Euan Knox.
Team news –
Marr: Jamie MacKinnon comes in at full-back and Grant Baird is at nine. Struan Reekie starts at hooker in an otherwise unchanged pack. Young scrum-half Robbie Baird is on the bench after a great showing last time out and Calum Smith could debut from there.
Kelso: Robbie Tweedie drops out injured and is replaced by Nik Stingl, Grant Shiells is at a wedding, so there is a deserved start for Angus Mcgregor, Terry Logan returns after helping the Southern Knights out last weekend and Murray Hastie is back on the bench after being away on holiday.
What the coaches say –
“Selkirk last week were very tough as we knew they would be. We started strongly, but then fell away a bit. We finished strongly and came away with the win which is great. Kelso will be another tough game and they’ll be full of confidence after beating Hawks. We need to make sure our error count is low in what will likely be tough playing conditions …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)
“We were more like ourselves at home last week against Hawks. We put a lot more phases together that allowed us to put the pressure on and the defence is improving. It will be needed this week against a strong Marr team who have an impressive home record …” – Bruce McNeil (Kelso)
Verdict: Kelso have made a good start to life back in the Premiership and dominated versus Hawks last time out. Since the opening day defeat to Heriot’s Blues, Marr have looked like they mean business though and are tough to beat in Troon.
Selkirk v Musselburgh
Venue: Philphaugh @ 3pm
Selkirk: C Anderson; J Welsh, A Grant-Suttie, R Nixon, F Wheelans; Aaron McColm, J Beveridge; L Pettie, B Riddell, Z Szwagrzak, A Cochrane, C Turnbull, R Murray, S McClymont©, Andrew McColm. Subs: F Easson, J Millburn, C Ward, B Pickles, B Cullen.
Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; J Ferguson, R Watt©, B Heber, S Watt; R Smith, F Call; R Brown, R Stott, C Arthur, J Haynes, M Badenhorst, J Arnold, M Crawford, J Lister. Subs: D Miller, R Hanning, G Inkster, P Cunningham, O Craig.
Key battle: Andrew McColm versus Jordan Lister.
Team news –
Selkirk: Callum Anderson is available again after recovering from injury, Bruce Riddell and Zen Szwagrzak are in the starting team with Fraser Easson and Jake Millburn moving to the bench. Josh Beveridge, who has been released by Boroughmuir Bears, comes in at nine and Aaron McColm moves to stand-off with Cameron Eason unavailable for this game.
Musselburgh: Ross Brown comes in for the unavailable Craig Owenson at loose-head in an otherwise unchanged starting XV. On the bench, Darren Miller, Ross Hanning and Paul Cunningham all return and will look to make a valuable contribution when they come on.
What the coaches say –
“There was key positives we took from last week’s game against Marr that we want to maintain and improve on going into this week’s game against Musselburgh. We know that we have to put in a good performance to gain any points from this game, the squad have trained well this week and confidence is growing amongst all players. They want to put in a shift on Saturday and take our defence and attack to another level …” – Gordon Henderson (Selkirk)
“Training this week has had an edge to it that we have not seen much of this season. The challenge for us is transferring that into Saturday against a Selkirk team who probably feel like they should be further up the table than they are. However, we know how critical this game is in terms of setting ourselves up for the next block – for us it’ll be about rolling the sleeves up and working hard for each other across 80 minutes. If we do that, we will get what we deserve out of this fixture …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)
Verdict: This is a very tough one to call. Musselburgh will be looking for a second win in the Borders in a row while Selkirk will want to build on the home win against Jed a fortnight ago. If the Josh Beveridge-Aaron McColm half back pairing can click, the hosts may just edge it.