THE main event is the Scottish Cup Final at 6pm when Hawick and Marr meet, with the latter looking to win this particular piece of silverware for the first ever time and the former looking for their third success since triumphing in the inaugural tournament back in 1996 and to complete the double this season.
Hawick have won all three meetings between the sides this term, the most recent in the Premiership play-off semi-final in March, but the men from Troon can certainly cause problems if they get on the front foot. The Bill McLaren Shield is currently held by Hawick and will be up for grabs, too.
Both sides are well supported, with seven supporter buses heading setting off from Troon for the match and eight supporter buses making the trip up from the Borders, so it should make for a great finale to the day which will start at 10am in terms of men’s games with the National Shield final between West League Division One sides East Kilbride and Stewartry at Murrayfield. Then, at 1pm, Panmure and Kinloss Eagles will face off in the National Bowl final at the DAM Health Stadium.
The Lowdown –
National Shield Final:
East Kilbride v Stewartry
Venue: Murrayfield @ 10am
East Kilbride: R Blackwood; E Martin, L Aitken, S Shankie, L Brown; R Murray, M Smith; C Mclellan, E Middleton©, R Jaap, G Jones, J Galbraith, C O’Neil, D McGiven, G Thornton. Subs: S Robinson, A Irvine, M Fletcher, R Hughes, M Ellison, R Greenfield, G Dryburgh.
Stewartry: J Picken©; M Yates, R Austin, TJ McCarney, F Forsyth; D Armstrong A Nicholson; M McCulloch, K McGuire, I McMorran, D Maxwell, R Porteous, J Forsyth, S McCulloch, A Lindsay. Subs: A Mathias, S Hogg, T McLean, F Barne, C Root, S Milligan, A Picken.
Key battle: Scott Shankie versus TJ McCarney.
Team news –
East Kilbride: From the semi-final win over North Berwick way back at the start of April, tight-head Robbie Jaap comes in to start as does back-row Chris O’Neil and full-back Rory Blackwood.
Stewartry: Rory Porteous has stepped up from the bench to add experience in the second-row and promising young scrum-half Archie Nicholson comes in to start alongside experienced campaigner David Armstrong at stand-off, with captain John Picken reverting to full-back. Ashley Mathias and Scott Milligan have earned a spots on the bench following strong performances in the last two league fixtures.
Coaches comments –
“Playing in the National Shield final at the home of Scottish Rugby is an incredible achievement. The opportunity to play at such a prestigious venue where so many legends of the Scottish game have competed before is an honour in itself. This final is a chance for us to showcase the hard work and dedication that the team has put in throughout the season and we are immensely proud to walk onto that field knowing we are representing East Kilbride. The atmosphere and energy in the stadium will be electric, and it is a moment that the supporters, players – past, present, future – and coaches alike will remember for a lifetime …” – Craig Brown (East Kilbride)
“We know opponents East Kilbride well, the two of us having competed in West One for a number of seasons. They are a well-coached, physical side who bring a strong kicking game and can move the ball well. They were the only other side in West One [apart from champions Garnock] that we lost to all year so we will definitely not be taking the challenge lightly. We have prepared well so if we get our individual roles right and are able to keep possession then I believe we will be successful. Our home support has grown used to seeing us play some fast-flowing exciting rugby. I am excited to bring this Stewartry team to Murrayfield and showcase what we can do …” – Sandy Currie (Stewartry)
National Bowl Final:
Panmure v Kinloss Eagles
Venue: DAM Health Stadium @ 1pm
Panmure: J Faulkner; C Cruickshank, F Binnie, M Van Der Esch, A Lindsay; E Snitch, A Barclay; A Lindsay, B Yule, J Walsh, J Pattullo©, G Melville, A Philp, T Jarron, C Davidson. Subs: K Franco, D Nicholson, F Husband, J Leather, M Boyce, C Jeffrey, L Tares.
Kinloss Eagles: I Railoa; T Turner, V Koroibanuve, R Vauloka, P Moku; L Green, M Narawa; J Illingworth, R Walker, G Marr, D Woodward©, J Vuetimacuata, R Bosekoviti, S Laidlaw, J McLean. Subs: L Davis, C Gilpin, K Esson, S Thompson, P Rokocua, W Qase, A Taletawa.
Key battle: Fraser Binnie versus Vilive Koroibanuve.
Team news –
Panmure: Fraser Binnie returns at centre after missing two games through injury and Jamie Faulkner is in at full-back. Marcus Van Der Esch starts at 12. The forward pack remains unchanged. Kevin Franco and Joe Leather make the bench with Colin Jeffrey returning to the squad as well. Kyle Davidson and Gordon Gray miss out through illness and injury respectively.
Kinloss Eagles: Josaia Vuetimacuata returns in the second-row after being deployed in Kenya for the last three months and Ratu Bosekoviti comes into the back-row. They replace Marcus Harrison and Taitusi Qaniuci who are both in London supporting the King’s coronation. In the backs, Lewis Green returns at 10 after a broken finger with Aminisi Taletawa moving to the bench, and Alipate Sovaki is unavailable so Vilive Koroibanuve starts at 13. Long-term absentees Lewis Davis and Calver Gilpin come onto the bench to bolster the front-row options and Keith Esson replaces Colin Thompson on the bench who is also in London on duty.
Coaches comments –
“After a very shaky start to the season the team has come together well. We turned a corner just before Christmas and went on an 11 game unbeaten run which has seen us progress to this stage of the Bowl. We are very pleased to have a large squad to pick from and an experienced starting XV. The whole club is buzzing and we are all looking forward to an exciting and entertaining game …” – Bruce Beckett (Panmure)
“Unavailability due to duty has forced some changes, but with the return of some other players I am happy that we have a very strong squad available for what is the biggest game in our club’s short history. A good league campaign and Bowl run has been great, the players have really stepped up to the mark playing to my gameplan. We expect a tough, physical encounter, but will aim to use the hybrid pitch to our advantage, playing a fast and expansive game. Discipline is one of our keys to victory as at times we can let our excitement get us into trouble. We have trained well and will be firing on Saturday as we try to add another trophy to the cabinet …” – Mikie Lawton (Kinloss Eagles)Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 25)
Scottish Cup Final:
Marr v Hawick
(for the Bill McLaren Shield)
Venue: Murrayfield @ 6pm
Marr: C Inglis; J Jacobsen, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, S Bickerstaff; C Sturgeon©, G Baird; G Reid, B Jardine, A Acton, D Andrew, H Murray, F Grant, C Young, B Johnston. Subs: B Nicholl, C Miller, A Johnston, M Blair, N Calder, J Scott, G Beckwith.
Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, 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, M Brogan, H Donaldson, D Lightfoot, G Huggan, C Welsh.
Key battle: Ben Johnston versus Jae Linton.
Team news –
Marr: Hooker Blair Jardine, scrum-half Grant Baird and replacement front-rower Craig Miller return from Super Series duty with Ayrshire Bulls for this final. Jack Scott and Gregor Beckwith have both recovered from injuries sustained in the quarter-final match versus Currie Chieftains and are included among the replacements.
Hawick: The experienced Stuart Graham is back from suspension and he starts at six in place of young Sam Frizzel who unfortunately misses out. Club captain Matty Carryer is among the replacements. 19 of the 22 players who came together to beat Currie Chieftains in the Premiership final in March are involved, those missing being Super Series players Connor Sutherland, Hector Patterson and Ross Graham. Subs Hughie Joe Donaldson, Deaglan Lightfoot and Marcus Brogan are in for them.
Coaches comments –
“This is Marr Rugby’s biggest ever day. It’s our first ever Scottish Cup final and only the second time a Marr squad has featured in a Murrayfield finals day. The squad has been working hard – and very well –in building towards this day and some hard decisions have had to be made in selecting the squad. We welcome back Blair Jardine, Grant Baird and Craig Miller into the matchday squad. Their experience and ability undoubtedly strengthens the side. We will have to be playing at the top of our game to harness and control a high-flying Hawick side who have had a remarkable season and will be determined to do the double …” – Kenny Diffenthal (Marr)
“We look to our last game of the season on Saturday and it’s shaping up to be a cracker. To be able to play at Murrayfield will be an amazing experience for this playing group. They have worked extremely hard this season and now it’s about how we focus to take on Marr who are a quality side. We are not taking into account previous fixtures this season and we will need to start well and play with energy and real intent to overcome them. We are expecting a big Greens support and hopefully it will top off what has been an amazing season …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)
Verdict: A fitting finale to the club season. Marr’s rise through the leagues to being Premiership champions last year was amazing and if they can add the Scottish Cup to that this time around then it will be another wonderful chapter in their fairytale story. Hawick have already won one big trophy this season and have risen to every challenge along the way, remaining unbeaten. Both sets of players will throw everything at this and Marr’s Super Series returners will make a difference, but Hawick’s desire to do the double should just get them over the line.