Premiership preview for Saturday 4th November: runners, riders and verdict

The second half of the season gets going with league leaders Hawick facing a tricky away day at Glasgow Hawks

Glasgow Hawks host table-toppers Hawick at Balgray this weekend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Glasgow Hawks host table-toppers Hawick at Balgray this weekend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

HAWICK, who climbed back to the top of the Premiership table, head to Balgray this weekend for a clash against a Glasgow Hawks side who are seventh in the table but riding high in confidence after last weekend’s comprehensive win over Heriot’s Blues.

Marr fell to a home defeat to Musselburgh last time out and, now in second, they are at Fullarton again this weekend taking on sixth placed Blues, so two teams here in need of a morale-boosting result.

After a fine win over Currie Chieftains last time out, Edinburgh Accies are third and welcome winless Jed-Forest to Raeburn Place looking to complete the double after a 41-17 victory two months ago. The Borderers are still winless after nine games of this campaign but have shown glimpses to suggest they can break that run at some point before the end of the season.


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Musselburgh are up to fourth and are after a second away win on the spin at eighth placed Kelso. These two sides drew 31-31 in a pulsating clash at Stoneyhill on September 2nd.

Currie have a game in hand over most teams, but find themselves in the unusual position of fifth ahead of a home match with Selkirk who are in ninth. The Edinburgh side won 47-17 at Philiphaugh earlier in the season.

With the clocks having gone back last weekend, note that four of the five games kick-off at 2pm with one at 3pm.

How it stands –

 

The Lowdown –

Currie Chieftains v Selkirk

Venue: Malleny Park @ 2pm

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: S Leto; J McCaig, DJ Innes, A Harley, R Daley; J Forbes©, C Lessels; C Anderson, R Vucago, G Carson, A Bain, C West, R Davies, A Fletcher, S Cardosi. Subs: S Fisher, T Jeffrey, K Steel, P Boyer, E Crombie.

Selkirk: C Anderson; B Pickles, A Grant-Suttie, R Nixon, J Welsh; Aaron McColm, H Alderson; L Pettie, J Bett, Z Szwagrzak, C Turnbull, A Cochrane, L Cassidy, S McClymont©, R Murray. Subs: B Riddell, J Millburn, F Easson, R Legge, B Cullen.

Key battle: Sam Leto versus Callum Anderson

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: A few changes the forwards, Chris Anderson starts at loose-head, Roy Vucago is available and is at hooker, Archie Fletcher starts at seven, with Sam Cardosi moving to No 8 and Rhys Davies to six. In the backs, Jamie Forbes is back to captain the team from stand-off, Sam Leto moves to full-back and Ryan Daley comes onto the wing to replace the injured Matthew Bradshaw.

Selkirk: James Bett makes his first start of the season in the front-row. Andrew McColm is unavailable due to injury which gives Ruaridh Murray an opportunity at No 8. Ryan Legge takes his place on the bench after completing his rehab from a knee injury sustained a few weeks ago.

What the coaches say –

“I can’t remember watching a more lacklustre performance than last week at Raeburn Place. We only really got going in the last 20 minutes, but by then Accies had the game wrapped up. I have been really pleased with how honest the guys have been about their individual performances and we have had a very productive week’s training. Selkirk are playing some really good rugby and will be disappointed not to have converted that into points over the past few weeks. Sesh [Gordon Henderson] is doing a great job and they are getting better week on week so we will need to show the home support what we are about if we are to get the win …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“We need to take the positives from containing Hawick to only one score for most of the game last week. We were in the game until the last quarter then they picked up scores late on to take the game away from us. Currie gives us another opportunity to play under no pressure and if we take our chances and win the small gains over the 80 minutes we are confident we can push them all the way for the points…” Gordon Henderson (Selkirk)

Verdict: Currie Chieftains will be smarting from last week’s away defeat to Edinburgh Accies while Selkirk have played some good stuff in patches of late without getting the results perhaps their play has deserved. A fairly settled squad will help Selkirk, but Currie at home with skipper Jamie Forbes back will be a tough nut to crack.

Home win.

 

Edinburgh Accies v Jed-Forest

Venue: Raeburn Place @ 2pm

Teams –

Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; F MacNeill, N Armstrong©, G Woods, K Gossman; B Appleson, B Grainger; C Imrie, G Hall, C Crookshank, T Drennan, S Whittaker, T Jones, K Slingby, C Thomson. Subs: F McAslan, A Hain, D McGrath, P Ritchie, J Jones.

Jed-Forest: A Bambrick; B Irvine, R Marshall, L Elder, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, M Glen; J Ferguson, H Keith, H Meadows, C Skeldon©, J Hynd, D Wardrop, B Roff, B Fotheringham. Subs: H Stenhouse, N Bates, L Masson, A Hendrie, L Sutton.

Key battle: Kieran Slingsby versus Blake Roff

Team news –

Edinburgh Accies: Behind the scrum, Ben Grainger comes in to start at scrum-half with Patrick Ritchie moving to the bench in an otherwise unchanged backline. Grant Hall and Calum Crookshank come into the front-row with Fraser McAslan and Arran Hain moving to the bench. Ted Jones and Chris Thomson replace the injured Angus Inwood and Jamie Sole in the back-row. Jonny Jones is on the bench having impressed for the 2nd XV and at training in recent weeks.

Jed-Forest: Rory Marshall and Brodie Irvine start for the first time this season in the backs with Lewis Elder moving from wing to inside-centre. Aidan Bambrick also comes in at full-back. In the forwards, Jamie Ferguson starts at loose-head with Jamie Hynd coming into the second-row meaning Dan Wardrop moves to the back-row. Lucas Masson, Adam Hendrie and Lachlan Sutton are new names on the bench.

What the coaches say –

“The players have taken real ownership, we have seen them grow over the last four or five weeks. This week our attention turns to Jed-Forest at home, a team who have started to show some real consistency in performance, so we need to start doing the same …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

“Accies will be full of confidence after their win over Currie last Saturday. We competed well versus Accies in the first game at the start of the season, but fell away near the end. They’ve got a strong pack that are hard to stop, but we must front up to them and prevent them from getting the upper hand. After last Saturday’s slow start against Kelso, we can’t afford to give teams early leads. I was pleased with our performance in the second half, we finished the game strongly, but when you’re chasing the game it is always harder to win …” – David Grieve (Jed-Forest)

Verdict: Accies have now won their last two matches and their win against Currie last time out saw their best performance of the season so far. Jed have been improving, but have a re-jigged backline and untested bench here. Home advantage should see Accies keep up their winning momentum.

Home win.

 

Glasgow Hawks v Hawick

Venue: Balgray @ 2pm

Teams –

Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; R Flett, J Pinkerton, J McConkey, T Macleod; G Cruickshanks, J Imrie; K Shanahan, P Cairncross, M Goodwin, S Leckey©, M Crumlish, E Brannan, A Syme, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, F Muir, Y Shaheen, W Burrows, S Graham.

Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, C Welsh; K Brunton, D Lightfoot; S Muir©, R Anderson, N Little, D Redpath, C Sutherland, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: R Graham, T Hope, F Wilson, B Scott, R McKean.

Key battle: James Imrie versus Deaglan Lightfoot

Team news –

Glasgow Hawks: There is only one change in the starting XV with Ewan Brannan coming in to make his debut in the back-row in place of Lewis Stewart who is working. Harry Provan is playing for his school team this weekend so Sam Graham replaces him on the bench.

Hawick: In the backs, Deaglan Lightfoot comes in for the unavailable Gareth Welsh at scrum-half while Lee Armstrong is in at centre with Charlie Welsh shifting to the wing. Up front, Fraser Renwick has a broken thumb so Russell Anderson is at hooker and Dalton Redpath comes into the second-row. Fit-again Ross Graham and Fraser Wilson are brought into a new-look bench with Ronan McKean and Ben Scott who could make a top team debut.

What the coaches say –

“Hawick are top of the table for a reason and have some stellar players. We are well aware of the task at hand and know it will take a monumental effort to beat a team that’s lost only once in a season and a half. No one expects us to win so we can play to our strengths and throw the ball about. We know if we play to our best we can beat anyone on our day. We just have to believe and back ourselves …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“We make a tough trip to Hawks this week to have a team we know are a tough side to get any sort of result against at home having had some big battles over the past few seasons in Glasgow. We have prepped well this week coming off the back of a good result last week. Heading away from home, we will need to stick to our processes and win the little battles within the game. I have a lot of respect for Andy [Hill] and what he’s done at Hawks, and they are in a good run of form so I know they will be up for this one on their own patch. It’s crucial we stay in the fight for 80 minutes and execute what we have worked on in training this week. It’s a game we are looking forward to …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

Verdict: This should be a cracker. In October, Hawks found some form to defeat Jed-Forest and Heriot’s Blues at home while they drew on the road at Musselburgh. They have a very settled match-day squad for this one and welcome leaders Hawick who are after an eighth win on the spin. Hawks will push Hawick all the way here, but the Borderers may just have too much.

Away win.

 

Kelso v Musselburgh

Venue: Poynder Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Kelso: A Barbour; A Roberts, D Patterson, F Robson©, R Tweedie; M Hastie, A Tait; G Shiells, E Knox, T Logan, C Brown, K Melbourne, L Tait, M Woodcock, B McNeil. Subs: A Frame, A Mcgregor, C Thompson, E Thompson, H Tweedie.

Musselburgh: P Cunningham; R Hindhaugh, R Watt©, B Heber, S Watt; M McMillan, F Call; R Brown, R Stott, D Miller, J Arnold, J Haynes, J Lister, G Inkster, M Badenhorst. Subs: R Mackie, C Arthur, P Bogie, M Crawford, D Owenson.

Key battle: Grant Shiells versus Darren Miller

Team news –

Kelso: For the first time this season Kelso have been able to select the same starting 15 as last week and on the bench they welcome back Cammy Thompson after he injured his shoulder in week two against Heriots Blues. Euan Thompson returns as a replacement after a Man-of-the-Match performance for Kelso Sharks.

Musselburgh: Ross Brown and Darren Miller rotate into the front-row to manage the load on Craig Owenson, who rests this week, and Colin Arthur, who takes up a place on the bench. Michael Maltman’s load is also managed and Michael Badenhorst rotates in at No 8 meaning Jordan Lister moves to blindside.

What the coaches say –

“Last week was an important win regarding our league status, but the performance again took a dip in the second half. We need to be far more clinical when we get in the ‘red zone’. Musselburgh are playing with a huge amount of confidence right now and last week’s result away to Marr has made them the in-form team in the division, so we need to match this on all fronts. We look forward to the challenge that they will bring …” – Bruce McNeil (Kelso)

“Teams are quite often a reflection of their coaches and Kelso are the embodiment of Bruce McNeil: ultra-competitive off the ball and a mix of brash and cunning on it. They are a side not to be taken lightly, especially at home. We respect the threats we will face at the weekend, but we have a few of our own. We can only unload those if we arrive at Poynder Park with the same appetite to step up on both sides of the ball as we did at Fullarton last week. The boys are hungry though …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

Verdict: Both sides won last week, Musselburgh’s victory at Marr grabbing the headlines with Kelso’s triumph over Jed-Forest being more routine. Since promotion, Kelso have shown that they are a match for anyone at home, but Musselburgh are fourth and if they want to keep up their play-off charge this is the kind of contest they must win.

Away win.

 

Marr v Heriot’s Blues

Venue: Fullarton Park @ 2pm

Teams –

Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon, G Baird; B Sweet, S Reekie, A Rogers, D Andrew, F Grant, C Smith, B Johnston, B Jardine. Subs: G Dick, C Young, K Vallance, G Beckwith, C Inglis.

Heriot’s Blues: T Storen; P Christie, B Kay©, K Kutsuna, F Stanier; L Townsend, G Wilson; A Munro, D Dineen, S Cessford, N Docherty, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, M Dillon, A Johnston. Subs: R Jackson, J Lascelles, C Shand, K Singleton, A Hunter.

Key battle: Struan Reekie versus Danny Dineen

Team news –

Marr: Brandon Sweet comes in at loose-head meaning Ali Rogers moves to tight-head. Fraser Grant is in the second-row with Calum Smith and Ben Johnston joining the back-row. Gregor Beckwith joins the bench.

Heriot’s Blues: Trent Storen returns to start at full-back which sees Angus Hunter move to the bench. Tight-head Struan Cessford joins the pack in a new-look front-row with Angus Munro and Danny Dineen. Callum Shand earns a bench spot.

What the coaches say –

“It was a tough day at the office last week, [and] we were found wanting. Fair play to Musselburgh, they played well and put us away. The boys showed glimpses of what we are about which is a positive. Yet again it is a tough week as Heriot’s come to Fullarton having beaten us at Goldenacre in the first fixture of the season. We know the task ahead, the boys have prepped positively and we look forward to the challenge …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)

“A disappointing performance last week means we need to pick ourselves up for the difficult trip to Marr. On a positive note, this will complete our five-week run of away trips, hopefully it can be a positive one …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

Verdict: Marr have an instant chance to redeem themselves at home after the loss to Musselburgh while Heriot’s were not happy with their performance at Hawks. Heriot’s have been on the road for a few weeks now and have threats to trouble most teams, but Marr will be desperate to show their supporters what they are all about.

Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 441 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.

4 Comments

  1. Half time at Poynder Park …Kelso in front 38-0
    Does your reporter want to change his away win prediction

    • Well done Hawick …36-15…great bonus point away win in Glasgow
      That’s the best way to silence the downers on here

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