Premiership Talking Points: the season so far

With only one game going ahead last weekend, The Offside Line used this mini-break to look back at the first half of the Premiership campaign

Benedict Grant of Marr against Jed-Forest. Image: Ken Ferguson
Benedict Grant of Marr against Jed-Forest. Image: Ken Ferguson
  • Marr started with a bang down at Jed in Round One – and have set the pace ever since – with 61 tries to date. Only dropped point came with their draw against a Jamie Sole inspired Accies at Fullarton in Round 7 when they squandered a 20-3 half time lead. Grabbed the Bill McLaren Shield from the Chieftains in Round 4 – and have never looked like surrendering it. Eight bonus point wins in ten games. Strong set-piece and enthusiastic defence – Colin Sturgeon pulls the strings and kicks his goals –  the Bickerstaff boys are always a threat. Big return match with Chieftains at Malleny on 14th December.

 

  • Currie Chieftains were hit hard by Super6 – but have worked hard to re-establish themselves – with old hands Fergus Scott and Mike Vernel showing the way up front – and the sublime Gregor Hunter absolutely outstanding at fly half. Wallace Nelson has switched impressively from wing to the flank – and the recruitment of Fijian hooker/back-row Roy Vucago is a big plus. Bullied out of it last time they met Marr at Fullarton when Gregor Hunter had to leave the field injured after only four minutes, they have since focused on their physicality – and have tightened their scrummaging up dramatically. Nine bonus point wins from ten games. All go at Malleny on 14th December.

 

  • The wheels came off Aberdeen Grammar’s promising start to the campaign when injury problems contributed to heavy consecutive defeats against Chieftains, Hawick and Marr – but they steadied the ship with a hard fought win against Accies last week – and Saturday’s losing bonus point against Hawks pushed them up to third place in the table – albeit having played a game more than their nearest challengers. Robin Cessford is a big player for them – Matthew Schosser works incredibly hard – and top try scorer Nathan Brown is a handful on the wing. An undoubted highlight was Tom Aplin’s 70-yard interception try against Marr.

Scott Bickerstaff and Femi Sofolarin to make Scotland 7s debuts

Tennent’s Premiership Leaderboard – at start of December

Aberdeen Grammar v Glasgow Hawks: visiting pack prevails in ding-dong battle


  • Skipper Shawn Muir’s prolonged absence after his injury in the warm-up for the GHA game back in Round 2 hurt Hawick badly – and they appeared to lose their way with defeats to Chieftains, Marr, Hawks and a draw with Selkirk – but they got the show back on the road at Rubsislaw in Round 8 – and their good form has continued – pushing them very much back into the mix for a play-off slot. Ali Weir has slipped comfortably back into the fly-half berth and Daniel Suddon has found his feet at this level – but they still need to find ways of bringing their promising young centre Andrew Mitchell into the game more.

 

  • A difficult start to the season for Glasgow Hawks, bedevilled with injuries and player unavailability – but they went down to Mansfield in Round 7 with a very limited game-plan and snatched a much needed victory – since when they have been very unlucky to lose to Marr – and have beaten both Accies and Aberdeen – to give themselves a realistic chance of making the play-offs. Paddy Boyer and Liam Brims are tidy at half-back – Erlend Oag and Callum Henderson are strong in the centre – Max Priestly is dangerous on the wing – and they have an embarrassment of riches in the back-row when everyone is fit and available with Stephen Leckey, Ryan Sweeney, Rory Jackson and Fraser Christie.

 

  • Chieftain, Hawick and Marr – it was a tough old start to the season for GHA – but they hung in there – and got the result they needed against Accies in Round 4. Then they were t 16 points down and reduced to 14 men with 20 minutes to go against Hawks in Round 5 and fought their way back to win a game that had ‘Charlie Lonergan’s fingerprints all over it’. Since when, they have maybe flattered to deceive – a never-say-die attitude – great to watch – but too many unforced errors have pushed them into the danger zone
Scottish Rugby Taxi Board Game
  • Little surprise that Edinburgh Accies have strained to impose themselves on this season’s Premiership – having lost ten of last season’s squad to Super6 – and having had to play all their games in the first tranche of the season away from home because of the redevelopment of Raeburn Place. Not all doom and gloom however – Jamie Sole inspired his side to a staggering draw away to Marr – and to an estimable win against Selkirk at Philiphaugh despite the skipper having been yellow carded on the first play of the game by the Spanish referee. And there is the fine form of Iain Berthinussen’s latest BATS protégé, young Robert Wilson. They need to win some games soon – but even now, playing on the Edinburgh Academy school field at Newfied they do not enjoy proper home advantage.

 

  • Plagued by injuries and yellow cards (eleven plus a red to date) Jed-Forest have struggled manfully to win enough ball to capitalise on the coruscating talent they have stashed behind their scrum. With decent rations, Callum and Lewis Young could catapult Jed away from the danger zone – and with half-decent rations they could drag them clear of bottom automatic relegation slot.

 

  • Hard going propping up the table – but whilst their game management has sometimes been askew, nobody can doubt Musselburgh’s spirit – William Fleming setting up Paul Cunningham’s critical try in their bonus point win over Hawks in his 200th game for the club – Gregor Tait’s sensational second-half try against Aberdeen. It is a long, hard road ahead – but Fleming, Craig Owenson and Michael Maltman have both been round the block before – and will ensure that their young compadres give it their best shot.

Boroughmuir Bears v Southern Knights: Callum Atkinson takes it all in his giant stride

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