Scottish Cup round of 16 preview – runners, riders and verdict

Seven matches go ahead this weekend with teams vying for a chance to play at Murrayfield on 6th May

Selkirk host Musselburgh at Philiphaugh in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup tomorrow afternoon. Image: Grant Kinghorn
Selkirk host Musselburgh at Philiphaugh in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup tomorrow afternoon. Image: Grant Kinghorn

SEVEN matches go ahead in the round of 16 in the Scottish Cup tomorrow afternoon, while Watsonians have had to call off their trip to Marr due to a lack of front-rowers.

There has been no Cup since 2018-19 due to Covid and its after-tremors, and while the National One clubs left in the draw still have important league matches to play, the chance to make it to Murrayfield on May 6th is not one to be sniffed at.

Melrose, Dundee Rugby, Ayr, Kelso, Stirling County and GHK are the teams from the second tier remaining, with the coach between the last two of those listed teams is doubling up as a very important league game.


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Premiership champions Hawick head to Edinburgh Accies and Selkirk play Musselburgh in the two all-top flight ties.

For Ayr, as well as their trip to GHA, it’ll be a big day as they have a 125th anniversary dinner in the evening.

 

The Lowdown –

Currie Chieftains v Melrose

Venue: Malleny Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; K McGovern, DJ Innes, G Cannie, I Sim; J Forbes, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, A McCallum, E Stewart, K Steel, G Nelson, R Davies©. Subs: G Carson, J Ramsay, J Donaghue, J McCaig, R Daley.

Melrose: D Colvine©; C Spence, D Crawford, R Brett, H Makowski; S Hutchison, B Colvine; W Owen, S Fairbairn, C Crookshanks, T Brown, G Lindsay, A Weir, G Anderson, W Ferrie. Subs: L Kirk, E Compton, E Lindsay, Z Ramage, L Townsend.

Key battle: Charlie Brett versus David Colvine.

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: Ali McCallum moves into the second-row as Will Inglis is off to New Zealand to play for Spotswood Utd in the Taranaki Premier Competition. Kyle Steel comes into the back-row and, on the bench, Graeme Carson is back after a long-term injury. In the backs, Gregor Christie is recovering from a head knock, so Paddy Boyer starts at nine.

Melrose: Elliot Ruthven drops out of the back-row as does Ross McConnell after suffering a concussion on Monday in the Border League final. Angus Weir and Gavin Anderson are promoted from the bench. In the backs, Hamish Weir is injured and is replaced by the returning Harry Makowski. Luke Townsend comes into the squad following the Scotland under-20 Six Nations campaign and is on the bench.

What the coaches say –

“Melrose pushed Selkirk all the way in the recent Border League final and have had a strong season in National One. After a disappointing end to the play-off final, it’s been a tough couple of weeks and the players are desperate to get back out there and give a good account of themselves in the Cup. It’s great to be able to switch our focus to the Cup and have something else to play for. A word too for Graeme Carson, it’s great to have him back in the squad after working so hard to get back from a ruptured achilles suffered at the start of our league campaign …” –  Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“We are looking forward to challenging ourselves versus another Premiership side who came very close to winning the Premiership final against Hawick. Obviously, we have had a short turnaround from Monday’s Border League final with Selkirk, but we know the players can back it up again …” – Bert Grigg (Melrose)

Verdict: Melrose will be looking forward to having a crack at top flight opponents. However, they played as recently as Monday evening and Currie will be determined to have a good Cup run after losing out in the Premiership in the last few seconds of the final.

Home win.

 

Dundee Rugby v Glasgow Hawks

Venue: Mayfield @ 3pm

Teams –

Dundee Rugby: B McNamara; C Nicol, S Kirk, M Mitchell, A Denver; T Armstrong, G Harley; K Mackinnon, A Flynn, T Hall, N Harris, F Ormiston, S Gauld, F Overend, S Cardosi©. Subs: J Shellard, S Haldane, C Slader, D Bell, C Black.

Glasgow Hawks: E Muirhead; R Flett, J Pinkerton, C Ferrie, R Darroch; G Cruikshanks, E Davey; M Downer, P Cairncross, G Strain, A Maitland, S Leckey©, Oscar Baird, T Wright, S Hastings. Subs: I Totik, K Shanahan, M Crumlish, M Stewart, A McLean.

Key battle: Sam Cardosi versus Seb Hastings.

Team news –

Dundee Rugby: Adam Flynn, Tom Hall and Nic Harris all return to the pack. At openside, Finlay Overend gets a start and, as is a product of GHA, he is looking forward to this one. In the backs, Stu Kirk comes back in at 13. Connor Slater is on the bench after being away training with the Navy.

Glasgow Hawks: Eric Davey starts at nine and Andy McLean is on the bench with both returning from Scotland under-20s. Euan Muirhead and Ross Darroch have impressed the coaches during the down weeks and are rewarded for this by starting at 15 and 11 respectively.

What the coaches say –

“We are really looking forward to this test after a long season that’s been a bit up and down. The boys have had their eye on this one for while and know we will need to step up a gear to compete against a Premiership outfit. It would be good to get a big home support at Mayfield as it makes all the difference. Also, big congratulations to the Dundee University captain Bradley McNamara along with Sam Cardosi, Rory Huston, Sam Haldane, Finlay Overend and Stu Kirk who won their BUCS final against Brunel down in Nottingham on Wednesday …” – Alan Brown (Dundee Rugby)

“It’s been a long time since we played Dundee, I think Alan and I both played that day in a pre-season friendly. Both clubs have a good working relationship, helping players play the highest standard of rugby available to them if they are moving from city to city. I’ve followed how Alan has got on and he’s done a great job at Dundee during a challenging transition and the club are seeing the rewards of this. Having watched them, they play a good brand of rugby so we hope it will make for a good spectacle …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

Verdict: This should be a good Cup tie. Dundee look to now be safe from relegation from National League Division One while Hawks squeezed past Gala after extra-time in the last round. In the end, Hawks’ experience should tell, but there could be a few points in this one with both sides keen to attack.

Away win.

 

Edinburgh Accies v Hawick

(for the Bill McLaren Shield)

Venue: Raeburn Place @ 3pm

Teams –

Edinburgh Accies: H Cameron-Barr; K Gossman, M Wallace, V Hart, L Wells; J Loomes©, S Broad; C Imrie, F McAslan, C Lacour, C Bain, R Thompson, F Simpson, M Walker, R Campbell. Subs: C Taylor, K Jenkins, D Moynan, M Love, B Brannan.

Hawick: K Ford; J Delaney, A Mitchell, E Reilly, R McKean; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, D Redpath, S Fairbairn, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: M Carryer, R Macleod, R Graham, H Donaldson, D Lightfoot, G Huggan.

Key battle: Clem Lacour versus Shawn Muir

Team news –

Edinburgh Accies: A mix of youth and experience for this Cup tie. Tight-head Clem Lacour being one in the experienced group with head coach Iain Berthinussen saying “this could be his last competitive game for Accies as he plans to retire at the end of the season, Clem has been a fantastic servant to the club over the years and the players will be doing all they can to give him one more game”.

Hawick: Charlie Welsh and Lewis Ferguson are missing, so James Delaney gets a chance on the wing. Gareth Welsh comes in at nine and, up front, Shaun Fairbairn starts in the second-row.

What the coaches say –

“Congratulations must go to Hawick for winning the league championship and going undefeated, showing great consistency in selection and performance.  The challenge for us is clear to see, we must front up physically, but also be brave as a group to play our game …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

“We are looking forward to our trip to Raeburn Place. Accies are a top quality side, and when they get their way and play with pace and tempo they are a tough team to stop, so the challenge for us is to refocus after a successful couple of weeks for the club. We are looking forward to the task at hand and we will need to raise our performance to get a win and ensure we can reach the quarter-finals …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

Verdict: Accies at home are a tough nut to crack while Hawick’s players will need to re-energise after their Premiership win and the subsequent celebrations. The hosts will be eager to become the first team to defeat Hawick this term, but Hawick’s steady selection may just get them over the line.

Away win.

 

GHA v Ayr

Venue: Braidholm @ 3pm

Teams –

GHA: G Mollison; R O’Keefe, C Lonegan, M MacFarlane, C King; T Lonergan, F Johnston; D Sutton, A Falconer, M Fox, S Callaghan, A Barnett, A Kerr, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: L Barron, O Lonergan Black, M Chirrey, G Baird, A Bogidrau.

Ayr: C Wood; R Anderson, D McCluskey, J Bova, Z Howard; J Anderson, R McCorkindale; S Rae, S Collier, R Sayce, C Reece©, M Leatherbarrow, M Kirk, R Pottie, P McCallum. Subs: D Young, C Rae, C Lynch, J Mclauchlan, J Fulton.

Key battle: Luke McCutcheon versus Pete McCallum.

Team news –

GHA: Tom Lonergan, Max MacFarlane and Cameron King return to the backline. In the pack, Daniel Sutton and Adam Kerr start at loose-head and blindside respectively.

Ayr: Ciaran Wood and Ruairidh Anderson come into the back three while, in the pack, hooker Stuart Collier and second-row Morgan Leatherbarrow start.

What the coaches say –

“It is set to be a busy day at Braidholm this weekend with a sold out Ladies Day, the Cup game against Ayr and the 2nd XV facing Heriot’s in the National Reserve League final. Our league campaign ultimately finished in disappointment after a spirited performance down at Hawick. Ayr have been going well this year, but the squad are determined to finish the season strongly in the Cup and put a marker down for the standards we expect next season …” – Calum Forrester (GHA)

“The guys have been training well this week and they are looking forward to testing themselves against GHA …” – Stuart Fenwick (Ayr)

Verdict: This is an intriguing one, a relegated Premiership side against one that is second in National League Division One and who still has an outside chance of promotion. As Calum Forrester says, GHA will want to put a marker down for next season, but this will be a real test and Ayr will fancy their chances of causing an upset.

Away win.

 

Kelso v Heriot’s Blues

Venue: Poynder Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Kelso: M Wilson; R Tweedie, H Tweedie, F Robson©, G Millar; M Hastie, N Stingl; A Asante, M Thompson, T Logan, D Welsh, K Melbourne, F Common, A Lunn, C Brown. Subs: J Gordon, A Frame, M Laing, K Flannigan, A Tait.

Heriot’s Blues: P Christie; C Simpson; O Quinn, R Kay©, F Stanier; R Carmichael, G Wilson; M Bouab, D Dineen, J Lascelles, C Jupp, M Hughes, I Hill, S Wallace, A Johnston. Subs: A Bogle, A Munro, M Keough, B Dineen, D Martin, TBC.

Key battle: Frankie Robson versus Robert Kay.

Team news –

Kelso: A lot of changes from the side that defeated Ayr in a crucial National League Division One match two weeks ago, skipper Frankie Robson, stand-off Murray Hastie and second-row remaining in the starting XV.

Heriot’s Blues: With the Blues 2nds playing in the National Reserve League final, “we have put out the best available squad” says head coach Phil Smith.

What the coaches say –

“The guys are looking forward to taking on a top quality Premiership side and seeing how we match up against them. We still have two league games to play as we aim to secure promotion, so we have made some changes to the squad which gives some guys an opportunity to show what they can do …” – Bruce McNeil (Kelso)

“We are delighted to be going to Poynder Park as a precursor to next season as Kelso now look likely winners of National One …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

Verdict: Kelso will be keen to test themselves against a side who won their league last year and then survived in the Premiership this time around. Given the changes Kelso have made and the strength of the Heriot’s starting XV, the visitors should be too strong.

Away win.

 

Selkirk v Musselburgh

Venue: Philiphaugh @ 3pm

Teams –

Selkirk: M Reid; L Ferguson, J Welsh, Aaron McColm©, B Cullen; C Jackson, J Hamilton; L Pettie©, B Riddell, C Mackintosh, J Head, A Cochrane, R Nixon, S McClymont, Andrew McColm. Subs from: F Easson, Z Szwagrzak, C Ward, C Turnbull, L Martin, C Easson.

Musselburgh: R Young; T Foley, H Thomas, F Thomson, C Marshall; R Smith, G Leitch; R Hanning, F Duraj, J Noble, J Haynes, L Milne, P Bogie, M Outram©, M Badenhorst. Subs: C Arthur, E Bonthron, L Henderson, R Stott, J Anderson.

Key battle: Jack Hamilton versus Greg Leitch.

Team news –

Selkirk: Matt Reid comes in at full-back and Callum Mackintosh is given a start at tight-head.

Musselburgh: Max Outram returns and captains the side for the first time in a back-row that includes Michael Badenhorst and Paul Bogie. In the backs, Greg Leitch plays his first 1st XV game this season alongside Rory Smith at 10 who makes his first start in that position this term. The bench sees opportunities for Luke Henderson, Ronan Stott and Jack Anderson to build valuable game time in the 1st XV ahead of next season.

What the coaches say –

“After the highs of Monday it’s important we refocus on Saturday and turn up with the right attitude. There are a few changes which can only be a good thing as those players coming in will be hungry to start and I’m looking for them to add energy from the first minute …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

“This weekend is a great opportunity to roll the dice and learn more about the depth and versatility of our squad. No doubt Selkirk will be smarting from our last visit and buoyant from their Border League win earlier this week, so  facing that challenge will be a meaningful experience for the players involved …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

Verdict: Musselburgh secured a crucial league win at Selkirk earlier in the season, but lightning may not strike twice. Selkirk did play in the Border League final on Monday, but their squad has more regulars in it and they will be keen to put in a strong showing at home. It’s a good opportunity for some of Musselburgh’s fringe players to show what they can do, too.

Home win.

 

Stirling County v GHK

(Doubling up as a National League Division One fixture)

Venue: Bridgehaugh @ 3pm

Teams –

Stirling County: J Hope; R Maiden, L Carroll, C Robertson, G Smith; L Jamieson, K Singleton; C Murphy, C Hunter, A Dunlop, A Rutherford, JC Brough, C MacPherson, S MacDonald©, H Henderson. Subs: D Montgomery, K Crainey, A Buddie, J Imrie, T Bradley.

GHK: C Gossman; S Davidson, L Millar, J Steele, D Campbell; G Anderson, B Frame©; P Henderson, A Mclaurin, K Boles, R Wintersgill, L Findlay, H Parker, M Preston, T Spinks. Subs: R Muir, M Whyte, J Stafford, C Woolard, M Woods.

Key battle: Jonny Jape

Team news –

Stirling County: Lewis Jamieson comes in at 10 while experienced campaigner Jonny Hope is at 15 for his final home game before hanging up his boots.

GHK: Ruaidhri Wintersgill and Leo Findlay come in to form a second-row pairing and Mark Preston and Tommy Spinks are back in the back-row. Craig Gossman shifts from 13 to 15 in the backline.

What the coaches say –

“This is an exciting opportunity to play GHK in a double header – a Cup game and a ‘must win’ league fixture. Our main focus is surviving the relegation drop and staying in National One, if we progress in the Cup that will be an added bonus for us. We know what we need to do, we need to go out and deliver. Veteran Jonny Hope has announced he is retiring at the end of this season and this will be his last appearance running out at Bridgehaugh playing in a 1st XV jersey. Joffy is extremely popular character within the senior team and I know all the boys want to give everything on the pitch to make sure he finishes on a high …” – Craig Deacons (Stirling County)

“We are looking forward to this game where we are likely to receive a warm welcome from Stirling. It’s a game both teams need to win and whilst we have no doubt it will be close it might just come down to the team that holds its nerve …” – Glenn Woolard (GHK)

Verdict: There is no doubt that the league points are most important to both sides here rather than Cup progression, but one would be a by-product of the other. GHK know a win will make them safe in National League Division One with two games to spare while County will be looking to edge ahead of Watsonians in the battle to avoid the third relegation spot. A nervy 80 minutes in store.

Home win.


Scotland must get better at developing its own talent, acknowledges Gregor Townsend

About Gary Heatly 439 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.

3 Comments

  1. Maybe Watsonians are interested in trying to save them from relegation? Surely they have props in their seconds.Marr loose out financial

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    • If they really don’t have props available then that is a shocking indictment of where Scottish rugby is at. It’s already frightening how many youth games are lost to teams unable to get a XV out but for a club of that size in seniors the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear. No doubt the usual suspects will be along soon to tell us all is well and that the ‘pros are doing their jobs’. Or maybe they don’t realise there is such a thing as club rugby….

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      • Embarrassing for Watsonians rugby culture that they couldn’t raise a team to fulfill a fixture .

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