Premiership round five preview: runners, riders and verdicts

Marr host top of the table Currie Chieftains in a replay of last season's Grand Final, while Hawick take the Bill McLaren Shield on the road to GHA

GHA host unbeaten Hawick at Braidholm this weekend. Image: Colin Robinson
GHA host unbeaten Hawick at Braidholm this weekend. Image: Colin Robinson

MARR and Currie Chieftains meet on Saturday afternoon in the Premiership for the first time since the Troon outfit won last season’s final.

The Chieftains topped the league table for most of the regular season, but come the play-offs it was Marr who were on form and on April 2nd they travelled to Malleny Park and were victorious 36-25 to take the silverware back to Fullarton Park.

And Fullarton Park is the venue for this renewal of hostilities between the sides who are currently sixth and first in the table respectively, with Currie travelling west with 20 points out of a possible 20, while Marr will be keen to bounce back from last week’s loss at Glasgow Hawks, so this one should be a cracker.

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Meanwhile, fourth placed Hawick are taking the Bill McLaren Shield on the road to GHA. Last week’s win over Heriot’s Blues means that Hawick have enough home triumphs on the spin to have their name engraved on the silverware and they must now try and defend it at Braidholm. GHA are seventh, but will have taken great heart from pushing Currie all the way last time out.

Second placed Edinburgh Accies welcome eighth placed Jed-Forest to Raeburn Place, while third placed Glasgow Hawks are on the road to ninth placed Musselburgh.

And, in the final game of the round, fifth placed Selkirk will be at Goldenacre to take on a Heriot’s side who are bottom of the standings and still looking for their first win since promotion.


The Lowdown –

Marr v Currie Chieftains

Venue: Fullarton Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Marr: C Inglis; A Ramage, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff, J Scott; C Sturgeon©, G Baird; A Acton, S Clelland, C Miller, D Andrew, F Grant, A Johnston, R Brown, B Johnston. Subs: S Reekie, C Young, C Folan, A McGowan, M O’Sullivan.

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, G Cannie, DJ Innes, K McGovern; J Forbes, C Lessels; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, E Stewart, C Roman, J Duncan, A McCallum, R Davies©. Subs: J Halliday, J Ramsay, W Inglis, A Hall, P Boyer.

Key battle: Rhys Davies versus Ben Johnston

Team news –

Marr: Blair Jardine, Gordon Reid, Nairn Calder and Curran McMillan are unavailable this week. Angus Johnston and Robert Brown return in the back-row, while skipper Colin Sturgeon starts at stand-off and Callum Inglis moves to full-back.

Currie Chieftains: In the pack, both Jack Duncan and Ally McCallum start in the back-row after making a big impact off the bench last week. Jamie Forbes, Kody McGovern and Paddy Boyer are available this week with the first two starting at stand-off and on the wing respectively and the latter on the bench.

What the coaches say –

“After a disappointing result against Glasgow Hawks last week we face the league leaders and favourites for the title this week. Currie will come to Fullarton determined to gain revenge for the Premiership final defeat to ourselves in April. Mark Cairns and Ally Donaldson are outstanding coaches who will have prepared their team well to ensure they return to Currie with a win …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“We have trained well and are excited to challenge ourselves against Marr at Fullarton which is not an easy place to get points …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

Verdict: These are the two clubs who have set the bar in the Premiership in recent seasons. It has been a bit of an up and down start for Marr and they have had a few players unavailable each week. That is the case again, but with someone of the quality of Scott Bickerstaff – now on 200 tries in 239 games – they can always score points. Currie have key men Jamie Forbes and Kody McGovern back and that could swing things their way.

Away win.

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Edinburgh Accies v Jed-Forest

Venue: Raeburn Place @ 3pm

Teams –

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Cameron-Barr, M Wallace, N Armstrong, K Gossman; V Hart, B Grainger; C Imrie, C Black, G Ratcliff, E McVie, J Mills, J Sole, M Walker, R Campbelll©. Subs: C Lacour, F McAslan, T Drennan, M Love, F Lindsay.

Jed-Forest: L Walker; M Cullen, R Marshall, O Cranston, R Shirra-Gibb; J Mcgough, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Scott, P Ferreira, G Law, C Skeldon©, E Lauder, B Roff, G Young. Subs from: T Cromarty, J Hynd, K Grieve, R Ferreira, L Elder, B McNeil, J Story.

Key battle: George Ratcliff versus Grant Paxton

Team news –

Edinburgh Accies: A number of returning players to the pack this week with Callum Black at hooker, Euan McVie in the second row, Jamie Sole at blindside and Tom Drennan on the bench. George Ratcliff makes his first start at tight-head prop with Clem Lacour rotating to the bench. In the backs, Kerr Gossman returns on the wing, while Max Love and Fraser Lindsay are both added to the bench after being unavailable last week. Max Wallace moves into the centre to replace the injured Robbie Kent and Harvey Cameron-Barr retains his place on the wing after his double try scoring debut off the bench for the 1st XV last week.

Jed-Forest: This week Garry Young and Rory Marshall are back in the starting line-up at No 8 and outside-centre respectively, while Mason Cullen starts on the wing having produced a great 40 minutes last time out after a long injury lay-off.

What the coaches say –

“I was delighted with the players attitude and endeavour in the second half at Selkirk last week. It’s Jed at home this week and we know how dangerous they can be on their day, so we must be at our best and start the game with a bang …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

“A strong performance right through the squad gave us a great result last week. We are looking to keep progressing. In the last three games we have won the last 40 minutes. It’s now time to start strong …” – Andrew Brown (Jed-Forest)

Verdict: Both of these sides had important wins over Selkirk and Musselburgh respectively last weekend. Accies at home are a good side and they will want to get back to winning ways there having lost out to Hawick a fortnight ago. Jed are starting to look like a good unit under Andrew Brown, but this will be a tricky one for them.

Home win.


GHA v Hawick

(for the Bill McLaren Shield)

Venue: Braidholm @ 3pm

Teams –

GHA: C Hyde; A Spowart, C Lonergan, G Little, A Caqusau; G Baird, R MacFarlane; J Low, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, S Callaghan, S Plumridge, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: TBC, F Faulds, A Flynn, L Bardelli, F Johnston.

Hawick: K Ford; F Douglas, A Mitchell, G Huggan, R McKean; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir, M Carryer©, N Little, D Redpath, S Fairbairn, C Sutherland, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: R Graham, T Hope, S Graham, H Donaldson, B Donaldson.

Key battle: Archie Falconer versus Matty Carryer

Team news –

GHA: There are a few injuries from last week’s fixture against Currie. George Baird moves to stand-off with Rory MacFarlane taking his place at scrum-half, and Glen Little comes into the centre for the injured Max MacFarlane. Josh Low is in the front-row this week as Erik Cavan is away on international duty with Norway. Sean Callaghan is in the second-row and Scott Plumridge gets his first start of the season in the back-row.

Hawick: Captain Matty Carryer, fit-again Shaun Fairbairn and Calum Renwick all come in to start in the pack with Ross Graham, Hughie Joe Donaldson and Stuart Graham reverting to the bench. In the backs, teenage winger Finlay Douglas will make his 1st XV debut, with Logan Gordon-Woolley ill and Lewis Ferguson unavailable.

What the coaches say –

“So close and yet so far was the frustration last week. We showed that we can compete against the best in the league and we set a standard that we need to keep to. A few boys are getting an opportunity this weekend against a tough Hawick side and the coaching team feel we have a strong squad that will look to compete again this week. The Bill McLaren Shield is up for grabs this weekend and it’s not that often you get to play for silverware so this is also another motivation for us. We have tweaked a couple of things in training this week and the boys are looking froward to the challenge that Hawick will bring. Control and composure is key this weekend …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

“We know how tough a trip this will be to GHA on Saturday, they have started the season well and will have had a big confidence boost from the close defeat to Currie. They played well and just missed out on a result in the end, but we need to keep focusing on ourselves and build another performance away from home to keep the momentum going …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

Verdict: With two teams facing beach other who are capable of some great rugby on their day and the Bill McLaren Shield on the line this should be a good contest. GHA have had an up and down start to the campaign, but showed versus Currie what they can do in attack when things click. The Hawick camp still don’t feel they have produced a full 80 minute performance as yet and they will need it here. Whichever pack can get on top could swing this.

Narrow away win.


Heriot’s Blues v Selkirk

Venue: Goldenacre @ 3pm

Teams –

Heriot’s Blues: C Dineen; N Henry, P Christie, O Quinn, C Robertson; D Martin, G Wilson©; A Munro, D Dineen, A Bogle, C Jupp, M Nimmo, M Bruce, S Wallace, B Dineen. Subs: M Toward, L Gordon, I Hill, R Thomson, C Simpson.

Selkirk: A McColm©; J Welsh, R Cottrell, R Godsmark, L Ferguson; R Nixon, J Hamilton; L Pettie©, B Riddell, Z Szwagrak, C Turnbull, A Cochrane, A McColm, S McClymont, M Job. Subs: C Smith, K Thompson, J Head, A Grant-Suttie, F Wheelans.

Key battle: Sam Wallace versus Scott McClymont

Team news –

Heriot’s Blues: An unchanged backline, but a number of alterations are made in the pack. Archie Bogle earns a start at tighthead prop, Charlie Jupp is making his return after a long-term injury in the second-row and Sam Wallace and Billy Dineen are available again in the back-row. Winger Charlie Simpson comes onto the bench.

Selkirk: The team this week sees a rotation in the second-row as Callum Turnbull getting a start after being a replacement for the  first four weeks and James Head moving to the bench. In the backline, Matt Reid drops out through injury and is replaced by co-captain Aaron McColm for his start of the season. The bench sees the return of Callum Smyth and Andrew Grant-Suttie from injury.

What the coaches say –

“We have had a tough start to our return to the Premiership, but the young squad have learned loads and will be better off for it, I hope. With Selkirk arriving having had a great start to the season, we once again know we will need to be focused in every aspect of the game to come away with anything …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

“We’ve looked at our performance from last week which wasn’t good enough given the position we got ourselves into at half-time. We know how dangerous Heriot’s will be and they’ll be desperate for their first victory of the season. We’re aware that it’ll take an 80 minute performance to win which we haven’t been able to do this far …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

Verdict: Heriot’s Blues know they need to start getting wins on the board soon and they will be targeting this game. They have a settled backline, so if their pack can start firing it’ll give them a fighting chance. Selkirk were clearly frustrated by parts of their performance against Edinburgh Accies last time out, so they will want a fast start here.

Away win.


Musselburgh v Glasgow Hawks

Venue: Stoneyhill @ 3pm

Teams –

Musselburgh: J Ferguson; C Marshall, R Watt, F Thomson, S Watt; M McMillan, D Owenson©; N McNairn, B Stott, C Arthur, J Haynes, W Fleming, C Champion, M Outram, M Crawford. Subs: F Duraj, R Hanning, L Milne, F Call, A Spencer.

Glasgow Hawks: A McLean; S Graham, J Pinkerton, B McGroarty, H Mitchell; G Cruikshank, E Davey; A Al-agilly, I Totic, G Strain, M Crumlish, S Leckey©, L Stewart, D Sweeney, Oscar Baird. Subs: Oban Baird, M Ogunlaja, T Wright, R Flett, M Stewart.

Key battle: Colin Arthur versus Adam Al-agilly

Team news –

Musselburgh: William Fleming returns from a broken wrist and slots into a reshuffled back five of the scrum which features Calum Champion now at six and Matty Crawford at No 8 in place of the injured Luke Hutson. Max Outram earns a second start in the back-row after an energetic performance last week. In the backs, an injury to Paul Cunningham means James Ferguson moves back to full-back and Calum Marshall returns to the wing.

Glasgow Hawks: A fair few changes to the team that beat Marr. In the front-row ,Mike Downer has travelled back to South Africa for a wedding while Paul Cairncross has been unable to shake off a hand injury. This means Adam Al-agilly and Istok Totic get their first starts of the season having been involved in every game so far off the bench. In the back-row, Daniel Sweeney is promoted from the 2nd XV after he scored a hat-trick of tries and put in a man of the match performance last week, so Stephen Leckey shifts to the second-row and Jack McLean drops out. Hooker Oban Baird will look to make his debut off the bench while Moby Ogunlaja is  also in line for his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury.

What the coaches say –

“Last week we wrestled defeat from the jaws of victory and while we stayed in the fight for 20 minutes into the second half, we were ultimately the masters of our own downfall in the closing stages of the game. I highlighted early on that there were aspects of our game that hadn’t developed to a level to cope with life in the Premiership by being promoted by restructure, let alone winning the league, and those areas were exposed on Saturday. With all due respect to Hawks, this week isn’t about them, it is about us knuckling down and focusing on the areas of our game that need work. We will measure ourselves against making improvements in those areas and not get caught up in the ‘must-win’ noise surrounding the game …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

“We go to Musselburgh knowing that we need to perform in the same way we did against Marr if we wish to get a result. They have been a bogey team for us as we have only managed to win one in the last five games against them and never at Stoneyhill …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

Verdict: This is a big game for both teams. Musselburgh have shown in patches of games what they can do and they clearly are a threat going forward, but they have to start collecting more points soon. And Hawks want to become known as consistent performers, so backing up their win over Marr is a must for them. Expect this one to be high scoring.

Away win.

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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.