Premiership talking points from Saturday 21st December

Currie Chieftains lose third game on the bounce and now have Hawick breathing down their neck, while Edinburgh Accies leapfrog Musselburgh out the Premiership basement

GHA's Aaron Pruewal on the run against Hawick. Image: Joyce Robinson
GHA's Aaron Pruewal on the run against Hawick. Image: Joyce Robinson
  • Nothing that Marr could not handle against Musselburgh at Stoneyhill. Forward power, excellent ball retention and the Bickerstaff boys saw them comfortably home – despite a couple of yellow cards and three missed goal kicks from the normally so reliable Colin Sturgeon. Next up Hawick – at Fullarton on 11th January.

 

  • Currie Chieftains shot themselves in the foot in difficult conditions at Philiphaugh. Three consecutive defeats is bad news for a club of their ambition – and a home fixture in the play-offs is maybe now in jeopardy. They have the Christmas break to regroup – and get themselves pumped up for their now critical away match with Accies on 11th January.

 

  • Hawick enjoyed set piece domination against GHA at Braidholm with their powerful scrum well on top and debutant James Rowley catching the eye in the line-out – creating an advantage which centres, Wiann Griebenow and Andrew Mitchell were not slow to exploit. All well and good – but even with a bonus point in the bag, a play-off slot all but guaranteed and the Bill McLaren Shield heading back to its spiritual home at Mansfield, George Graham was still in Ebenezer Scrooge mode – lamenting poor ball retention, lack of game management and careless finishing – but he did concede that having won ‘six on the bounce’ his team had built up ‘a bit of momentum’. Merry Christmas George!

 

  • Whilst disappointed that GHA were denied a losing bonus point by an injury time penalty try, Trevor Carmichael chose to focus on the positives. (i) It was all square on the hour mark – an excellent exemplar of the progress made since the 45-7 hammering they took in the reciprocal match at Mansfield in September (ii) His team have now played both fixtures against the top three teams (Marr, Currie and Hawick) – so, theoretically have the easier run in for the fourth play off slot (iii) Of the back division who played yesterday, only Andrew Gillman is over 21 – which has to augur well for the future.

 

  • A psychologically sweet bonus-point victory for Edinburgh Accies over Jed in their second game back at the still ‘unreconstructed’ Raeburn Place – and, from their perspective, the league table must have had a much more cheering look to it this morning – with Musselburgh and GHA both having lost – but as Iain Berthinussen said, there is ‘still a hell of a hill to climb’ in the New Year with Chieftains, Marr and Hawick (twice) in consecutive weeks. There were, however, several positives to take forward – there was a ‘real grunt’ about their defence which negated Jed’s dangerous backs – they used their pick and drive to sterling effect – Jamie Loomes made a big difference with his clever kicking – Ruari Campbell is settling well into the centre berth.

 

  • A big step forward for Jed-Forest against Aberdeen last week – followed now by a disappointing step backwards against Accies. They could not find any rhythm – too many mistakes – poor ball-retention – risky offloads – careless hands. Not helped by an injury to Callum Young and another (maybe harsh) yellow-card picked up by Gregor Law – but to fight their way out of the relegation zone, they need to dust themselves down during the break and come out all guns blazing against Selkirk at Riverside on 11th January.

 

  • Musselburgh are back in the basement – but as Graeme Paterson pointed out, they are still within touching distance and in control of their own destiny. Marr was maybe not a scalp that they could realistically have expected to take – and he could not fault his team’s effort – but some aimless kicking – and a failure, at times, to convert pressure into points must have been frustrating. There’s a long way to go – and a crucial trip up to Aberdeen on 11th January for a game which they must be thinking can be won.

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