WITH GHK forfeiting their match Cup match against Hawick, only three Scottish Cup quarter-final matches go ahead this weekend, but there will be no shortage of entertainment and intrigue if all six competing teams perform close to their potential.
Ayr are the only non-top flight side left in the competition. They host Selkirk at Millbrae and, interestingly, with seven replacements allowed at this stage Selkirk have only named four, so their squad is looking stretched.
With Craig Redpath recuperating from a recent operation, assistant coaches Kenny Diffenthal and Stephen Adair have stepped up to prepare Marr for their trip to Currie Chieftains. Clashes between those two are always full-blooded while expect tries when Heriot’s Blues take on Glasgow Hawks at Goldenacre.
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The Lowdown –
Ayr v Selkirk
Venue: Millbrae @ 3pm
Ayr: C Wood; R Anderson, D McCluskey, J Bova, Z Howard; J Anderson, R McCorkindale; S Rae, S Collier, R Sayce, M Leatherbarrow, C Reece©, M Kirk, R Pottie, P McCallum. Subs: D Young, C Rae, C Lynch, C Brown, J Chalmers, J Fulton, C Muir.
Selkirk: M Reid; B Cullen, J Welsh, R Nixon, L Ferguson; C Easson, J Hamilton; L Pettie©, B Riddell, Z Szwagrzak, J Head, C Turnbull, C Mackintosh, D Broatch, A Cochrane. Subs: F Easson, C Ward, A Penman, L Martin.
Key battle: Danny McCluskey versus Josh Welsh.
Team news –
Ayr: The same starting XV that took to the field against GHA last week.
Selkirk: Injuries and work commitments “gives a few boys a chance to start having been involved over the last few weeks on the bench, which is great to see,” according to head coach Scott Wight.
What the coaches say –
“We are very much looking forward to it. We’ve had very few home games since December, we’ve had a good week training and there has been a buzz about the squad. So, the opportunity to get back to Millbrae and play in front of what we hope will be a big and vocal support on Saturday is a good one …” – Stuart Fenwick (Ayr)
“We go to Ayr having been there in pre-season and appreciate it’s going to be tough, especially given the way their season has gone and their home form. I’m sure we will go there and have a good crack at them coming off the back of a great couple of weeks …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)
Verdict: Can Ayr keep their run going? The answer could be yes because they have been able to select the same starting XV as last week while Selkirk have been forced into a few changes and travel with just four replacements. It will be tight because Selkirk are a good side, but if Ayr have a decent sized crowd behind them their Cup dream may just continue.
Currie Chieftains v Marr
Venue: Malleny Park @ 3pm
Currie Chieftains: J McCaig; K McGovern, DJ Innes, G Cannie, I Sim; S Leto, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, A McCallum, E Stewart, J Ramsay, G Nelson, R Davies©. Subs: G Carson, A Cameron, J Donaghue, K Steel, C Lessels, R Daley, C Meager.
Marr: C Inglis; J Jacobsen, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Sturgeon©, G Beckwith; G Reid, S Clelland, A Acton, D Andrew, H Murray, C Young, F Grant, B Johnston. Subs: B Nicholl, L Morrison, C McMillan, A Ramage, D Craig, J Evans, M Blair.
Key battle: DJ Innes versus Conor Bickerstaff.
Team news –
Currie Chieftains: Only one change in the pack with Jacob Ramsay starting in the back-row in place of Kyle Steel after a very strong performance last week. In the backs, Sam Leto and James McCaig come in for the injured Jamie Forbes and Charlie Brett respectively at 10 and 15.
Marr: Craig Miller, Blair Jardine and Grant Baird are unavailable due to involvement in the Super Series with Ayrshire Bulls therefore there are several changes to the starting line-up and bench. Andrew Acton gets to start in the front-row, Harry Murray comes into the second-row and, with Callum Folan missing out through injury Cameron Young is in the back-row. Marr’s backline is unchanged from the one that played Hawick in the league play-offs on March 4th.
What the coaches say –
“Melrose really tested us last week and the final score didn’t reflect how tough the match was. It was great to get back out at Malleny and we are looking forward to the opportunity to play at home again in front of a big crowd against Marr. The forwards had a really useful session with the Watsonians Super Series side on Tuesday and there was a real buzz about the team at training on Thursday. Games against Marr are always physical and we will need to win the collisions if we are to progress to the semi-finals …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)
“Malleny Park is always a tough place to visit and come away from with a win. Mark Cairns will have his squad well prepared. Chieftains pose significant threats in attack and are ferocious in defence. In their previous round they blasted through Melrose and romped home with a convincing win. The home crowd will expect more of the same. Our squad will need to make sure they are focused for the full 80 minutes, accurate in defence and take any attacking chances they get. Although we will be pegged as the underdogs we have a squad that are winners and can cause an upset …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)
Verdict: Marr have not played a competitive match since March 4th while Currie had a rougher than expected game last week in the Cup. That recent action should stand Currie in good stead, but they have been dealt a blow with injuries to key men Jamie Forbes and Charlie Brett. Marr are missing some regulars who are now off to Super Series rugby and bench strength may just help the hosts through after a tight game.
Heriot’s Blues v Glasgow Hawks
Venue: Goldenacre @ 3pm
Heriot’s Blues: C Simpson; P Christie; O Quinn, R Kay©, F Stanier; R Carmichael, G Wilson; M Bouab, D Dineen, J Lascelles, D Webb, C Jupp, I Hill, S Wallace, M Keough. Subs: S Mustard, A Munro, R Kirkpatrick, R Thomson, N Henry, D Yellowley, I Parkin.
Glasgow Hawks: E Muirhead; R Flett, J Pinkerton, M Stewart, S Graham; G Cruikshanks, E Davey; M Downer, I Totic, G Strain, A Maitland, M Crumlish, S Leckey©, T Wright, S Hastings. Subs: P Cairncross, K Shanahan, J Porter, V Carlsson, H Roxburgh, A McLean, C Ferrie.
Key battle: Danny Dineen versus Istok Totic.
Team news –
Heriot’s Blues: Martin Hughes and Ali Johnston are unavailable, Duncan Webb and Malachy Keough join the pack. Stalwart Stewart Mustard joins the bench.
Glasgow Hawks: In the forwards, Istok Totic replaces Paul Cairncross at hooker while Max Crumlish comes in for talisman Oscar Baird who is unavailable. In the backs, Sam Graham returns from injury and replaces Ross Darroch on the wing while Matthew Stewart and Calum Ferrie swap roles this week, the former starting in the centre.
What the coaches say –
“Our squad is a little stretched this weekend, but we go into the match excited about the prospect of Cup rugby. A home tie means we hope we can entertain our home support …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)
“There was parts of last week’s performance I was really pleased with and we showed we are not far away from being back to our best. We played a great brand of rugby, however we were on the wrong side of a fair few decisions, which were mind boggling in the review. As the game went on we were second best in a few key facets of the game which is due to a long lay-off. We have looked to put these right in training this week and the lads are excited for another run out at Goldenacre where we will be hoping to extend our season by another week …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
Verdict: This will be a tight but entertaining game between two sides who like to shift the ball. Heriot’s know they didn’t play a full strength Kelso last week, but it was still a good win on the road, while Hawks will want to be better than against Dundee Rugby. The visitors won at Goldenacre in the league in October and may just do the same here.
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