Scottish Cup preview: derby clashes create a buzz

Ayr host Marr at Millbrae and Gala welcome Kelso to Netherdale

Kelso took confidence from last week's league win over Heriot's ahead of this weekend's derby cup match against Gala. Image: Gavin Horsburgh
Kelso took confidence from last week's league win over Heriot's ahead of this weekend's derby cup match against Gala. Image: Gavin Horsburgh

THERE are a couple of cracking local derbies amongst the eight Scottish Cup first round matches scheduled for this weekend.

Ayr host Marr in a hotly anticipated clash at Millbrae. Marr travel as leaders in the Tennent’s Premiership while the hosts are sixth in National One after four wins and a draw from their first seven games.

The Millbrae men have a fine Cup pedigree, indeed they are the holders of the trophy having defeated Heriot’s in the final at Murrayfield in April, and they also won the trophy in 2010, 2011 and 2013.


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While most of that squad which lifted the Cup some six months ago are now preparing for life in Super6 with Ayrshire Bulls, a hardcore of young players will be keen to take on their old rivals from Troon who are unbeaten in league and Cup this season.

It is a big match by any measure, but for Ayr assistant coach Stephen Adair there is even more bite. The 32-year-old former hooker came through the ranks at Ayr during his playing days and was part of a golden era at Millbrae as the club started to win big trophies and played in the British & Irish Cup.

He then spent a few years playing at Marr as they climbed through the leagues to eventually make it into the Premiership for the first time during the 2017-18 season.

Then, when he hung up his boots in the summer, a call came from old team mate Stuart Fenwick, the Ayr head coach, asking him to join and hung and exciting coaching team at Millbrae which also includes Scotland 7s star Robbie Fergusson.

“I really wanted to get into coaching this year and the chance to work with Stuart and Robbie was too good to turn down,” Adair said. “During my playing days, I loved being part of Ayr match-day squads and we are keen to instil that camaraderie in the young boys who are coming through in the Club XV just now.

Stephen Adair is back coaching at Ayr after finishing his playing career with local rivals Marr. Image: George McMillan
Stephen Adair is back coaching at Ayr after finishing his playing career with local rivals Marr. Image: George McMillan

“They are all good mates and they really battle for the team, as they showed last week in the [21-10] league win at Cartha, while they are led well by captain Gregor Henry.

“Having been at Marr and seen their results this season to date we know that they have some good players in their ranks, but so do we and the newer players to this level of rugby will get a real buzz playing in front of a big home crowd.

“We have been working hard in training this week and we know that if the boys can put in an 80 minute performance then we will definitely be in this Cup tie. I can’t wait for it!

“Nothing beats playing, but seeing young guys working hard and improving every week gives you a great buzz too and the pack has come on massively in recent weeks and they are always up for a challenge.”

Border battle

Over in the east, Gala versus Kelso matches have a long and colourful history and their meeting at Netherdale will be intriguing. When they met earlier in the month on Tennent’s National League One duty at the same ground, the Maroons got home for a 23-15 triumph. Since then, however, Kelso have managed to get their first league win of the 2019-20 campaign on the board, defeating high-flying Heriot’s Blues last week to give head coach Kris de Scossa and his charges a well-timed boost.

Gala came back from 21-7 down to grab a draw with Watsonians last week, but have been a bit of a mixed bag this term, having lost heavily to Heriot’s Blues the previous week.

Accies move closer to home

Elsewhere, there are two all-Premiership ties. At New Field, Edinburgh Accies play their first ‘home’ game of the season against Musselburgh, while Currie Chieftains are on the road to Selkirk.

With Accies’ famous Raeburn Place home still being redeveloped they have been on the road over the last couple of months, but are able to play this tie in Edinburgh Academy’s school grounds, which is a short walk across Inverleith Park from their historic base.

Centre Richard Mill returns to the Accies’ midfield having been away in Kenya with the Samurai Sevens, while 17-year-old Ben Grainger could enter the fray from the bench. Musselburgh move Danny Owenson from scrum-half to stand-off for this one.

Currie Chieftains defeated Selkirk 34-17 in the league on 14th September and are boosted by having Scotland Club XV man Robbie Nelson making an appearance for the first time this season after injury.

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Three other Premiership sides are in action with Hawick at home to Cartha Queens Park, GHA on the road to Heriot’s Blues and Jed-Forest away to Boroughmuir.

The Greens have been on a poor run of late and move captain Ali Weir to stand-off while the experienced forwards Dale Johnstone and Bruce McNeil are back.

“This week we need to focus on the performance rather than the outcome,” said Hawick head coach George Graham. “We cannot underestimate Cartha [who are currently eighth in National One]. I am sure they will have been looking at our form of late and will fancy their chances of creating an upset.”

Adam Scott comes in at full-back for GHA as they take a tricky trip to play Heriot’s Blues. GHA are in the top flight and the Blues in National One, but the Edinburgh side have been scoring points for fun and have experienced players who have tasted trophy glory before like Stewart Mustard, Graham Wilson, Rory Carmichael and Craig Robertson in their starting XV.

Jed-Forest are in Edinburgh, too, taking on National One outfit Boroughmuir at Watsonians’ Myreside ground because Meggetland unavailable.

In an all-National One tie Highland face Stirling County Wolves at Canal Park. Only two points separate the teams in the league and, ahead of the trip north, the Wolves head coach Chris Faill stated: “We are really looking forward to this match. It has been a long time since the club has played Highland in a competitive fixture, we know it will be tough, but we head there with some confidence after our last two league results.”

This weekend’s Scottish Cup first round fixtures (3pm and at usual home grounds except when stated otherwise) –

Edinburgh Accies v Musselburgh (2.30pm, New Field)

Ayr v Marr

Boroughmuir v Jed-Forest (Myreside)

Gala v Kelso

Hawick v Cartha Queens Park

Heriot’s Blues v GHA

Highland v Stirling County Wolves

Selkirk v Currie Chieftains

Squads –

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; C Ramm, N Armstrong, R Mill, J Pecqueur; J Loomes, M Love; C Imrie, S Crombie, D Anderson, A Inwood, D Dineen, P O’Sullivan, J Sole©, J Bruce. Subs: K Jenkins, C Lamberton, T Jones, B Grainger, W Stephen.

Musselburgh: F Roddick; S Watt, R Smith, R Watt, G Tait; D Owenson©, A Reddick; R Stott, J Crain, C Arthur, P Brown, J Haynes, C Champion C Pryde, L Hutson. Subs: P Portsmouth, E Bonthron, M Crain, P Cunningham, J Ferguson.

Ayr: J McCorkindale; J Baird, H Lynch, J Bova, Z Howard; R McCorkindale, R Donaldson; G Lynch, S Clelland, C Miller, S Rae, C Brown, K Borland, G Henry©, M Leatherbarrow. Subs: S Collier, O Rasanen, Z Howie, C Black, A Morrison.

Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, R Dalgleish; C Sturgeon, J Preston; W Farquhar, O Rossi, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant. Subs: C McMillan, B Sweet, C Cunningham, G Ness, J Scott.

Boroughmuir: B Renton; T Barker, G Alexander, M Hare, F Devine; C Anderson, J Hamilton; L Robinson, S Ferguson, T Gracie, J Troxler, D Sim, G Inkster, A Wilson, S Clark. Subs: C Anderson, S Habib, D McConnell, R Weersma, G Welsh.

Jed-Forest: M Chisholm; J Laing, C Young, R Yourston, J Ferguson; G Munro, N Stingl; G Paxton, C Lothian, T Jeffrey, G Young, J Hynd, E Lauder, J McGeough, M Weekley. Subs: F Campbell, P Ferreira, G Taylor, G Amos, TBC.

Gala: R Howarth; F Johnston, A Mitchell, R Jeffrey, R Cooke; J Turnbull, L Johnston; K Scott, J Easson, A Brown, R Irvine, J Watson, A Dun, L Scott, E Dods©. Subs: T Logan, N Turnbull, J Irvine, B Gill, M Amos.

Kelso: M Wilson; G Walker, M Kindness, F Robson, R Tweedie; C Dods, A Tait; C Sweenie, B Robertson, G Clark, D Welsh, A Thompson, A Cowens, K Dryden, C Brown. Subs: A Ford, S Hilton, F Common, P Lawlor, G Millar.

Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, A Mitchell, Glen Welsh, L Gordon-Woolley; A Weir©, Gareth Welsh; D Johnstone, M Carryer, C Greer-Bachurzewski, D Suddon, A Piotrowski, S Fairbairn, S Graham, B McNeil. Subs: C Renwick, R Toogood, J Rowley, J Linton, M Bannerman.

Cartha Queens Park: G Docherty; T Pin, E Campbell, T Pourcharet, T Lopez; W Burrows©, B Lufon; M Goodwin, F Paul, L Alessandri, M Nellaney, G Williamson, J Porter, C Dickson, R Howie. Subs: Z Kelman, J Phyfer, M Stewart, J McPhail, D McCartney.

Heriot’s Blues: C Lineen; J Rae, F Hutchison, O Quinn, C Robertson; R Carmichael, G Wilson; J Lascelles, S Mustard, R Hutchison, S Johnstone, C Bell, M Hughes©, N Sutherland, F Munro. Subs: F Osuntoki, R Walker, M Oliver, L Meynier, F Murphy.

GHA: A Scott; J Craig, G Mollison, J Reilly, J Baillie; J Anderson, G Baird; T Brogan, H Clark, S Fisher, A Kerr, J McCarthy©, E Cavan, D Ewing, L McCutcheon. Subs: M Fox, S Callaghan, M Marinkovic, A Gillman, J MacKinnon.

Highland: R Rokoduguni; S Rutledge, I Chisholm, S Ross, M Gordon; S Fraser, H Crush; S Murray, K Brown, L Sinclair, G Jameson, A Simpson, S Blair, G Gregor, O Baird. Subs: M Paterson, A MacDonald, C Carson, A Kellock, C Irvine.

Stirling County Wolves: J Hope©; C Dineen, M Heron, J Gibson, K Singleton; C Robertson, A Shaw, F Muir, A Orr, G Holborn, S Yarrow, C McPherson, A Rutherford, C Cruickshank, H Henderson. Subs: B Mace, G Breese, L Kesson, D Tomanek, J Cruickshank.

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; S Hamilton, A Hall, R Nelson, A MacLean; G Hunter, C Lessels; G Carson, F Scott©, M Sonzogni Argiro, M Poole, M Vernel, J O’Brien, H Ferguson, W Nelson. Subs: E Blair, C Ramsay, S Edwards, C Meagher, F Sayers.


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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.