Premiership round seven preview: runners, riders and verdicts

Two crunch clashes at top of the table with Currie Chieftains hosting Hawick and Glasgow Hawks hosting Edinburgh Accies, while Heriot's play Musselburgh in a basement battle

GHA’s Adam Scott scores in the corner against Jed Forest last season. Image: Colin Robinson

THERE is a massive game at the bottom of the Premiership on Saturday as Heriot’s Blues take on Musselburgh at Goldenacre. The table does not make good reading for either team right now with the Blues bottom on two points and Musselburgh second bottom with three points.

The Blues’ points difference is -138 while Musselburgh’s is -167, and both are searching for their first win of the campaign.

Heriot’s head coach Phil Smith says the clash is “hugely important” while his opposite number Derek O’Riordan believes it is “in essence a cup final”.

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It will not be for the faint hearted, that’s for sure, and neither will be the match up between second placed Currie Chieftains and third placed Hawick at Malleny Park. The Greens travel as the only unbeaten side left in the competition while the Bill McLaren Shield is on the line, too.

League leaders Edinburgh Accies face a stern test of their credentials at fourth placed Glasgow Hawks. GHA, in eighth, host seventh placed Jed-Forest and fifth placed Selkirk are at sixth placed Marr.

How It Stands –


The Lowdown –

Currie Chieftains v Hawick

(for the Bill McLaren Shield)

Venue: Malleny Park @ 3pm

Teams –

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

Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, L Gordon-Woolley, A Mitchell, 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, H Donaldson, B Donaldson, G Huggan.

Key battle: Cairn Ramsay versus Shawn Muir.

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: The starting backs are unchanged and Cameron Lessels comes onto the bench. There is one change in the forwards with Jack Duncan back from injury and replacing the injured Ally McCallum in the back-row. Jacob Ramsay and Mike Vernel are back on the bench.

Hawick: No changes to the starting pack this week, but one change to the backline as Kirk Ford returns at full-back after illness. Ross Graham and Grant Huggan are on the bench.

What the coaches say –

“Our second half performance against Hawks is our best to date this season. We will need to produce close to an 80 minute performance of that quality to beat an impressive Hawick team …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains).

“We know how hard a place Malleny Park is to play at and how hard we are going to have to work to get any sort of result. We feel we are in a good place at the minute and are excited for the challenge on Saturday , we will have to put in our best performance of the season, but it’s a challenge we are looking forward to …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

Verdict: What a game this should be. Currie are formidable at home while Hawick are unbeaten. Whichever pack gets off to the better start here may give their side the edge.

Home win.


Heriot’s Blues v Musselburgh

Venue: Goldenacre @ 3pm

Teams –

Heriot’s Blues: C Dineen; N Henry, C Simpson, O Quinn, C Robertson; D Martin, G Wilson; M Bouab, D Dineen, A Bogle, C Bell©, S Johnstone, C Jupp, I Hill, L Gordon. Subs: M Toward, S O’Callaghan, M Bruce, R Thomson, I Kay.

Musselburgh: M McMillan; J Ferguson, R Young, F Thomson, C Marshall; D Owenson©, F Call; C Owenson, F Duraj, C Arthur, L Milne, J Haynes, W Fleming, M Outram, C Champion. Subs: R Hanning, P Brown, G Neill, C Pryde, T Foley.

Key battle: Danny Dineen versus Fin Duraj.

Team news –

Heriot’s Blues: A fairly settled squad with centre Charlie Simpson and No 8 Leo Gordon coming into the group this week.

Musselburgh: The experienced Craig Owenson makes his first start at loose-head this year after returning from injury last week, and is joined by the returning William Fleming and Max Outram in the pack. James Ferguson takes up a spot on the wing and Ruairidh Young coming in at 13 for the first time in a long while.

What the coaches say –

“While only one third of the season has been played, this feels a hugely important fixture for both clubs. Hopefully we can come out on the right side of the scoreline …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

“When you are low on confidence you succumb to the narrative that surrounds you too easily and it can feel like everything – and everyone – is against you. However, despite the results we are still seeing subtle signs of progress in certain areas and the mood at training continues to be positive and buoyant. We are excited by the prospect of playing what is in essence a cup final at the weekend …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

Verdict: There is no disguising how big this one us. Both teams will need their experienced players to step up to the mark in key moments and which ones do that best could decide a very tight game.

Home win.


Marr v Selkirk

Venue: Fullarton Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Marr: C Inglis; A Ramage, S Bickerstaff, N Calder, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon©, G Baird; S Clelland, B Jardine, C Miller, D Andrew, R Brocket, C Young, C Folan, B Johnston. Subs: N Wallace, L Morrison, C Steel, A McGowan, J Scott.

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

Key battle: Colin Sturgeon versus Aaron McColm.

Team news –

Marr: Nine players are unavailable this week. Blair Jardine, Ross Brocket and Callum Folan replace Curran McMillan, Fraser Grant, and Angus Johnston in the pack. Nairn Calder and Jake Jacobson replace Matt O’Sullivan and Jack Scott in the backs after coming off the bench last week.

Selkirk: A completely reshuffled backline. Other than Finlay Wheelans, everyone else has changed positions, while Ross Nixon moves from 10 to six, and Scott McClymont returns at seven after missing last week. On the bench, James Bett, Andrew Cochrane and Matt Reid all return after missing the last couple weeks

What the coaches say –

“Our injury list continues to rise after last week’s defeat against Hawick. We face a tough test at Fullarton this week against a very good Selkirk side who have recruited well this season. Scott and his team will be looking to continue their good start to the season and return to Selkirk with a win. There pack was impressive in the win last week against GHA. We will have to match them up front if we wish to win on Saturday …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“We’ve still not managed a complete 80 minute performance, but have been very good in some short spells over the last couple weeks. It’s about being more consistent for longer periods of time. If we want to be in the game at Marr, who are unbeaten at home this year and last year’s champions, then we will have to do that …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk).

Verdict: This is a very intriguing game as Marr have nine players missing while Selkirk’s backline have all swapped positions as they look for an 80 minute performance. Expect plenty thrills and spills and maybe a shock.

Away win.

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GHA v Jed-Forest

Venue: Braidholm @ 3pm

Teams –

GHA: C Hyde; L Bardelli; C Lonergan, K Dixon, A Caqusau; A Bogidrau, G Baird; E Caven, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, A Barnett, S Plumridge, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: A Sacha, S Callaghan, W Graham, F Johnston, J Ventisei.

Jed-Forest: L Young; L Elder, R Marshall, B McNeil, R Shirra-Gibb; C Young, A Bambrick; A Sweenie, F Scott, P Ferreira, J Story, C Skeldon©, E Lauder, B Roff, M Atkinson. Subs: T Cromarty, G Paxton, H Meadows, D Gillespie, C Wyness.

Key battle: Aminio Bogidrau versus Callum Young.

Team news –

GHA: Stand-off Aminio Bogidrau and second-row Adam Barnett come back into the starting XV after injury. Kyle Dixon starts at 12 which allows Charlie Lonergan, Chris Hyde and Luca Bardelli to move back to their more natural positions. Fergus Johnston, Johnny Ventisei and Walker Graham are on the bench with newly arrived Canadian Aaron Sacha, who will make his first appearance for GHA.

Jed-Forest: Ben McNeil moves from No 8 to 12 and Matt Atkinson moves from second-row to No 8. John Story starts in the second-row. Scotland Sevens man Callum Young joins the squad to start at 10. Mason Cullen has been selected for the Southern Knights as emergency cover so is unavailable.

What the coaches say –

“After a very disappointing loss last week at Selkirk where we didn’t really have a platform to attack from in the second half, we have be working on that to rectify it at training for this weekend. Jed-Forest will be on a high after their win against Heriot’s and we expect a strong physical team at Braidholm this weekend. We need to be more clinical in certain areas of the field and control the game more, this will require an 80 minute performance from us, but the boys are looking forward to the challenge ahead …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

“We’re all looking forward to the game given the performance last week. we’ve had positive moments so far in every game and last week was the complete 80 minutes. Even with the few changes it doesn’t harm the quality or depth of this squad …” – Andrew Brown (Jed-Forest)

Verdict: GHA have lost their last four matches, and will be glad to be back on home turf for this one. Jed were very good at times against Heriot’s last time out and if they can keep that up they may just win on the road here.

Away win.


Glasgow Hawks v Edinburgh Accies

Venue: Balgray @ 3pm

Teams –

Glasgow Hawks: D McCartney; R Darroch, J Pinkerton, R Flett, S Graham; G Cruikshank, E Davey; A Al-Agilly, I Totic, G Strain, M Crumlish, O Baird, L Stewart, S Leckey©, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, M Ogunlaja, J McLean, E McAra, M Stewart.

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; M Wallace, R Kent, N Armstrong, K Gossman; V Hart, M Love; C Imrie, C Black, C Lacour, T Drennan, F Simpson, J Sole, M Walker, R Campbel©. Subs: G Ratcliff, F McAslan, R Thompson, J Troup, H Cameron-Barr.

Key battle: Stephen Leckey versus Matt Walker.

Team news –

Glasgow Hawks: Brendan McGroarty is unavailable due to work so Ryan Flett moves into 12 and Ross Darroch returns from injury on the wing. David McCartney comes in at full-back with Matthew Stewart moving to the bench where he will be alongside Euan McAra, who will make his debut for the 1st XV after helping out Heriot’s in Super6. In the pack, Adam Al-agilly gets the nod at loose-head prop while there is a shuffle in the back five of the scrum, including skipper Stephen Leckey moving to seven. Aaron Burgess will look to make his debut off the bench while Jack McLean returns to the matchday 20.

Edinburgh Accies: Max Love starts at scrum-half and, with Vincent Hart returning to stand-off, Ben Appleson moves to full-back. Callum Black rotates with Fraser McAslan at hooker, Tom Drennan moves into the second-row joining the returning Finlay Simpson, and Matt Walker is back at openside flanker. Jamie Troup is on the bench, returning to the 1st XV squad after a long term injury lay-off.

What the coaches say –

“Accies are top of the table for a reason and their defence has to be applauded. However, over the last few years these have been high scoring contests which have been great for the neutral to watch so it will be interesting to see how this one pans out. The boys are eager to get back out on the pitch and correct a few of the things that went wrong in the second half last week …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“Hawks will be looking to get back to winning ways after losing to Currie last weekend. The challenge for us is to impose our game on Hawks and meet them physically, a challenge the players are extremely excited about …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

Verdict: This is a big test for both clubs, Hawks to try and bounce back after a loss to Currie and Accies to see if they can deal with being front-runners. A close affair, but key players like Finlay Simpson, Matt Walker and Vincent Hart coming back may just sway it Accies’ way.

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.