Premiership round four preview: runners, riders and verdicts

Two trophies up for grabs at Mansfield with Hawick and Heriot's competing for the Bill McLaren and Norman Suddon Shields

Shawn Muir will be determined to lead from the front as Hawick battle Heriot's for two pieces of silverware at Mansfield Park. Image: Kenny Baillie
Shawn Muir will be determined to lead from the front as Hawick battle Heriot's for two pieces of silverware at Mansfield Park. Image: Kenny Baillie

HAWICK and Heriot’s will compete for two trophies that commemorate two of the Border town’s greatest sons at Mansfield Park this weekend, with long-established Bill McLaren Shield and the newly-created Norman Suddon Shield both up for grabs.

In April, Hawick lost one of their greatest ever players when Suddon passed away aged 78 and the club are delighted to mark the contribution he made to the Greens cause over many years with the new trophy which will be played for annually when these two sides meet.

Suddon’s most respected opponents – and the team he most enjoyed playing against – were Heriot’s and a number of his family members will be at the game this weekend and will present the trophy to the winning skipper at full-time.

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As a player, Suddon graduated via Hawick PSA and Hawick YM to play his first game for Hawick as a 17-year-old, starting out as a second-row and then playing front-row. He first played for Scotland against Wales in 1965 and won 13 caps in all, most memorably being in the side which beat South Africa in April 1965. He also played for and captained the Barbarians.

In February Hawick president Ian Landles interviewed him for the club’s 150th anniversary book and said:  “His dedication to the green jersey shone through in our whole conversation.”

Elsewhere, Currie Chieftains, the runners-up last year, continue to set the pace in the 2022-23 Premiership with 15 points from a possible 15 and they are at home to seventh placed GHA who have five points and one win to their name so far.

Edinburgh Accies were edged out last week by Hawick, but are second in the table and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they head to Selkirk, but face a tough test against the league’s third placed team who are currently unbeaten with two wins and a draw to date.

Glasgow Hawks are fourth and have 11 points as they prepare to welcome Marr to Balgray. Marr are sixth, but expect them to keep moving upwards in the coming weeks after they got back to winning ways last time out.

There is a big game at the bottom where winless sides Jed-Forest and Musselburgh  meet at Riverside Park in what is sure to be a real scrap.


The Lowdown –

Currie Chieftains v GHA

Venue: Malleny Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, DJ Innes, A Hall, C Meager; S Leto, C Lessels; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, W Inglis, C Roman, E Stewart, M Vernel, R Davies©. Subs: J Halliday, E McCallum, A McCallum, J Duncan, G Cannie.

GHA: C Hyde; A Spowart, C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, A Caqusau; A Bogidrau, G Baird; E Cavan, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, A Barnett, J McEntegart, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: J Low, S Callaghan, W Graham, R MacFarlane, G Mollison.

Key battle: Mike Vernel versus Dario Ewing.

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: In the forwards, Will Inglis gets his first start for the club, Ewan Stewart moves to the back-row and Mike Vernel comes in to replace the injured Gregor Nelson at openside flanker. DJ Innes is back into the squad after missing the start of the season with an injury picked up playing in Super6 Sprint Series for Stirling Wolves. He is at outside centre meaning James McCaig moves out to the wing to replace the injured Kody McGovern.

GHA: Only changes this week are Andrew Spowart onto the wing for his first start of this season and Adam Kerr returning after injury in the second-row. Walker Graham and Grant Mollison take their places on the bench and this will be Mollison’s first outing for the firsts this season.

What the coaches say –

“This will be our toughest test yet and we are looking forward to the challenge. Trevor has done a great job at GHA and will be disappointed with how they went last week, so we expect them to react with a strong performance. It’s going to be a great atmosphere at the club with the Colts, 2nds and 3rds all playing at  home in the lead up to the match, let’s hope we rise to the occasion …” –  Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“After a very disappointing result and performance –  especially in the second half –  last weekend against Marr we have been working on a few things with the players at training and have had a positive week. It doesn’t come much harder than Currie who I still feel set the benchmark in this league. Malleny Park is always a tough place to go and we will need to put together a more controlled and compose performance for the full 80 minutes …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

Verdict: Currie head coach Mark Cairns suggested last weekend that his side are yet to find top form despite scoring 155 points in three games. That could be ominous for GHA who have shown in patches what they can do so far this term, but need their best showing to be competitive here.

Home win.


Jed-Forest v Musselburgh

Venue: Riverside Park @ 3pm

Teams –

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

Musselburgh: P Cunningham; J Ferguson, R Watt, F Thomson, S Watt; M McMillan, D Owenson©; N McNairn, B Stott, C Arthur, C Champion, J Haynes, M Crawford, M Outram, L Hutson. Subs: F Duraj, P Brown, L Milne, G Neill, C Marshall.

Key battle: Lewis Walker versus Matthew McMillan.

Team news –

Jed-Forest: They will look for control from Lewis Walker at 10. Owen Cranston gets the nod at 13 after a strong performance last time out and has the experience of the returning Gregor and Lewis Young beside and behind him. Mason Cullen returns on the bench after injury and is keen to make his mark.

Musselburgh: Max Outram makes his first appearance this season in the back-row. Paul Cunningham performed well last week at full-back and retains his place with James Ferguson shifting to the wing. Gary Neill is on the bench.

What the coaches say –

“This is a game that we have to target and get our first win in the board. We should have capitalised on our dominance in the pack last week and we will be looking to put this right …” – Andrew Brown (Jed-Forest)

“We have had to have a pretty honest look at ourselves this week to consider how and where we are going to get a foothold in the league.  I cannot fault the players in terms of their application and effort in training, but at the moment their endeavour is not transferring into games.  I am really heartened by the potential in the squad and the balance of young, talented players with some streetwise heads offers comfort that if we stay the course things will come good.  However, whilst that sentiment is reflective of the longer-term view I take it does little to reconcile the short term need to get a win and establish some momentum. I am confident that we have done enough in the week to give ourselves a chance against Jed and I hope we can piece together the performance needed to give the players and the club the result they deserve …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

Verdict: A massive match for both sides. This is Jed’s third home game already and after reverses at Riverside to Hawick and Hawks they will really be targeting this game. Musselburgh will be targeting it too, but if Lewis Walker can take the game by the scruff of the neck at 10 for Jed they may just get over the line after a tough encounter.

Home win.


Selkirk v Edinburgh Accies

Philiphaugh @ 3pm

Selkirk: M Reid; J Welsh, R Cottrell, R Godsmark, L Ferguson; R Nixon, J Hamilton; L Pettie©, B Riddell, Z Szwagrak, J Head, A Cochrane, A McColm, S McClymont, M Job. Subs: J Bett, K Thompson, C Turnbull, A McColm©, C Whyte.

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; M Wallace, R Kent, N Armstrong, M Wells; V Hart, B Grainger; C Imrie, H Campbell, C Lacour, R Thompson, J Mills, M Crowther, M Walker, R Campbelll©. Subs: G Ratcliff, F McAslan, T Jones, S Johnson, H Cameron-Barr.

Key battle: Ryan Cottrell versus Robbie Kent.

Team news –

Selkirk: Josh Welsh returns to the wing having been unavailable last week. On the bench, James Bett returns from his wedding last week while co-captain Aaron McColm and Ciaran Whyte could feature for the first time this season.

Edinburgh Accies: Ben Appleson, Matt Walker and skipper Ruari Campbell return to the starting side after injury and unavailability, and Richard Thompson makes his debut in the second-row. Ben Grainger and Jake Mills start after impressing off the bench last week, while Sam Johnson and Harvey Cameron-Barr come on to the bench after good games for the 2nd XV last weekend.

What the coaches say –

“We were very good for 40 minutes last week and it’s about us turning up and trying to be more consistent for longer parts of the game. Accies will be disappointed after getting beat by Hawick at home last week which will make them even more dangerous, I’m sure there will of been a few things said so we know we will have to be at our best to win …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk).

“We head down to Philiphaugh on Saturday to play an undefeated and in form Selkirk side. We have had a good week at training learning some lessons from last week and continuing to develop this talented group of players, I look forward to seeing their reaction …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

Verdict: Both of these sides have had good starts to the season although Accies were very frustrated to lose to Hawick last time out. Selkirk’s selection issues are like night and day from last season, this time around they have picked a settled side for four games. It will be a good battle, but that cohesion and home advantage could see Selkirk stay unbeaten here.

Home win.


Hawick v Heriot’s Blues

(for the Norman Suddon Memorial Shield and the Bill McLaren Shield)

Venue: Mansfield Park @ 3pm

Hawick: K Ford; L Gordon-Woolley, A Mitchell, G Huggan, L Ferguison; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir, R Graham, N Little, D Redpath, H Donaldson, S Graham, C Sutherland, J Linton. Subs: M Carryer©, T Hope, S Fairbairn, R McKean, C Riddell.

Heriot’s Blues: C Dineen, N Henry, P Christie, O Quinn, C Robertson; D Martin, G Wilson©; A Munro, D Dineen, J Lascelles, C Smith, M Keough, M Bruce, L Gordon, M Nimmo. Subs: M Toward, A Bogle, I Hill, R Thomson, G Kirkpatrick.

Key battle: Kyle Brunton versus Dom Martin.

Team news –

Hawick: Unchanged pack from the win on the road last week. Hector Patterson is injured so Gareth Welsh returns from his own injury to start at nine. Kyle Brunton returns from injury too and starts at 10 with Lewis Ferguson coming onto the wing, meaning Ronan McKean moves to the bench. Also on the bench, in comes Shaun Fairbairn back from injury.

Heriot’s Blues: Danny Dineen, Clarke Smith, Malcolm Nimmo and Dom Martin return to boost the squad this week. Guy Kirkpatrick will be hoping to make his Premiership debut off the bench.

What the coaches say –

“This week we welcome Heriot’s to Mansfield and we are looking to back up last week’s performance at Accies. We know Heriot’s will be looking to get their first win of the season. Being back at Mansfield will help us and it’s a game the players are excited about, an added incentive being that we are playing for the Norman Suddon Memorial Shield. Norman sadly passed away in April of this year and he was a big follower of Hawick rugby and, having been capped 13 times for Scotland and played over 270 games for Hawick, he was one of our greatest players. This Shield is being played for versus Heriot’s as it was one Norman’s favourite games to play in, so I’m sure it will be a special day for the family and it will be great to see the silverware being presented after the game to the winning side …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick).

“While the results have gone against so far this season, the spirits remain high amongst the squad. A trip to Hawick means we can’t afford to switch off, and the chance to return with silverware is giving the boys an extra focus …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

Verdict: Hawick’s win away at Accies last week was a big one for them. It may have only been by a point, but it kept their momentum going. Heriot’s troubled Currie last time out for 30 minutes and have dangerous runners out wide if their pack can get parity. On home turf Hawick should have enough here, but it will not be as easy as some may think.

Home win.

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Glasgow Hawks v Marr

Venue: Balgray @ 3pm

Glasgow Hawks: A McLean; S Graham, J Pinkerton, B McGroarty, H Mitchell; D McCartney, E Davey; M Downer, P Cairncross, G Strain, M Crumlish, J McLean, L Stewart, S Leckey©, O Baird. Subs: I Totic, A Al-Agilly, T Wright, C Harrison, R Speers.

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

Key battle: Gary Strain versus Andrew Acton.

Team news –

Glasgow Hawks: In the backline, the experienced Brendan McGroarty comes into midfield for the unavailable Ryan Flett while Sam Graham and Harris Mitchell come in for Callum Ferrie and the electric Ross Darroch, who are out with illness and injury. In the pack, Andrew Syme has been struggling with an injury for the past few weeks and so makes way for Jack McLean which sees skipper Stephen Leckey move into his more familiar position of back-row. Ross Speers will look to make his debut off the bench.

Marr: Gordon Reid, Nairn Calder and Angus Johnston are all unavailable. This means Conor Bickerstaff moves to centre and Andrew Ramage is on the wing. Andrew Acton will make his first start of the season at loosehead prop.

What the coaches say –

“It’s great to see Connor Bickerstaff back out on the paddock after sustaining a serious injury the last time the two sides met at Balgray. Marr always come with a great support and a physical edge which we will have to better if we want to come out on the right side of the result …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“After a good win last week we face another tough away trip at Glasgow Hawks. These are always close physical games. Andy Hill and his coaching team have once again recruited well and made a good start to the season. We have trained well this week and hope to improve on last week’s performance which we will need to do to win the game …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

Verdict: This could be a cracker. Hawks have started the season well and Marr looked good last time out. It will be a big day for Marr’s Andrew Acton taking on Gary Strain at scrum time, and the centre pairing of skipper Colin Sturgeon and Connor Bickerstaff will be key for the visitors.

Away win.

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About Gary Heatly 462 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.

1 Comment

  1. Jack Scott is a very good attribute to have at full back, the Warriors contract offer isn’t far away for him with his lighting quick pace and feet, a real prospect and one to watch!

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