Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 12th November

Top of the table Hawick host Jed-Forest in a Border derby with the Bill McLaren Shield up for grabs

Marr host Edinburgh Accies at Fullarton Park as the Premiership returns. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Marr host Edinburgh Accies at Fullarton Park as the Premiership returns. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE Premiership returns this weekend at the start of a run of six match-rounds in a row leading onto the festive break. With teams battling it out for top four spots and looking to avoid 10th place, all players will hope to be rejuvenated after a week off which will hopefully make for some exciting clashes in round 10 of the campaign.

There is also the added intrigue of the Super6 Premiership player pool kicking into action. Between now and what looks like being December 3rd, Super6 players who have made themselves available for this pool – ones who require game time – will be used by Premiership clubs. Frustratingly, Scottish Rugby have decided that there is no need to provide the names of the players in the pool.

A few players have already returned to the Premiership from the part-time professional league permanently while long-term injured Super6 players may also be available as they return to fitness. And with Scotland under-20s selection coming up soon, we can expect to see a few Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors academy players being dropped in to get some valuable game-time.


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As the second half of the Premiership campaign gets underway, leaders Hawick will be looking for a ninth win on the spin in their Border derby against seventh placed Jed-Forest.

Second placed Edinburgh Accies are on the road to sixth placed Marr and third placed Currie Chieftains host bottom side Musselburgh, who got their first win a fortnight ago.

There is an interesting looking match at Balgray as fourth placed Glasgow Hawks welcome fifth placed Selkirk and, at the bottom, eighth meets ninth as GHA host Heriot’s Blues.

How it stands  –

The Lowdown –

Currie Chieftains v Musselburgh

Venue: Malleny Park @ 2pm

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meager, DJ Innes, A Hall, K McGovern; C Townsend, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, W Inglis, E Stewart, M Vernel, G Nelson, R Davies©. Subs: E McCallum, G Scougall, J O’Brien, J Forbes, R Southern.

Musselburgh: P Cunningham; J Ferguson, R Watt©, F Thomson, S Watt; M McMillan, F Call; C Owenson, B Stott, N McNairn, M Badenhorst, W Fleming, G Neill, M Crawford, C Champion. Subs: F Duraj, C Arthur, J Haynes, L Hutson, K McGhie.

Key battle: Ewan Stewart versus Michael Badenhorst.

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: In the forwards, Mike Vernel, Ewan Stewart and Gregor Nelson return to the starting team. Cammy Meager starts this week in a settled backline with Jamie Forbes back from injury on the bench. Also on the bench is Gregor Scougall and Ryan Southern from Super6.

Musselburgh: Michael Badenhorst and Kyle McGhie join the squad from Watsonians and Southern Knights respectively as part of the Super6 Premiership player pool, the former starting in the second-row and the latter as a backs replacement on the bench. Paul Cunningham returns from injury at full-back and Finn Duraj also returns from a brief injury to cover hooker from the bench.

What the coaches say –

“It’s great to have a number of key players back in the squad and we are looking forward to playing at Malleny after matches away to Selkirk and Jed. Musselburgh have continued to improve and they played well to beat a strong Marr team in their last outing. We have been disappointed with our last two home outings, a big crowd is expected and we want to deliver a big performance for them …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“The message has been pretty simple for us this week and is aligned to the challenge we have set ourselves: can we back up our performance. We knew there were signs that we were turning a corner for a few weeks leading into the Marr game and getting the win was a major milestone in our development. It counts for nothing if we leave that performance behind and don’t actively kick on …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

Verdict: Musselburgh will head to Malleny feeling good after their dogged win over Marr and with the additions of Michael Badenhorst and Kyle McGhie. Currie have won back-to-back games in the Borders and should have enough – including good bench strength – to win this one.

Home win.

 

Marr v Edinburgh Accies

Venue: Fullarton Park @ 2pm

Teams –

Marr: C Inglis; G Montgomery, N Calder, C Bickerstaff, S Bickerstaff; C Sturgeon©, G Baird; A Rogers, B Jardine, C Miller, D Andrew, G Reid, F Grant, C Young, B Johnston. Subs: S Reekie, R Brocket, C Folan, M O’Sullivan, J Jacobson.

Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; K Gossman, R Kent, M Wallace, L Wells; B Appleson, B Grainger; S Habib, F McAslan, G Ratcliff, C Bain, R Thompson, E McVie, J Sole, R Campbell©. Subs: C Cartwright, F Riddle, F Simpson, S Broad, F Lindsay.

Key battle: Blair Jardine versus Fraser McAslan.

Team news –

Marr: Conor Bickerstaff, Blair Jardine and Fraser Grant all return to the starting team. Ali Rogers has been allocated to Marr via the Super6 Premiership player pool and will start at loose-head prop as Gordon Reid moves to the second-row.

Edinburgh Accies: A settled back line with just one change which sees Ben Grainger starting at scrum-half. Up front, Scott Habib, Fraser McAslan and George Ratcliff start in the front-row as Cameron Bain returns from injury to partner Richard Thomson in the second-row, and young Euan McVie moves to the back-row. Cameron Cartwright and Freddie Riddle, who have been standouts for the 2nd XV, come onto the bench as does Fraser Lindsay and former Marr man Sinjin Broad has his first involvement of the season.

What the coaches say –

“We face an in-form Edinburgh Accies at Fullarton on Saturday. We have created a number of chances in the last three games which we have not taken. If we wish to win on Saturday we will have to turn pressure into points. The return of a few experienced players will help. Accies will be confident that they will win to maintain the pressure on Hawick and Currie at the top of the league …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“A well-earned rest from the Premiership last Saturday, but the players have worked hard at training over the past two weeks for our trip to Fullarton Park this Saturday. Marr away is always a tough task and we are under no illusions as to how tough it will be. As always it is important that we try and impose our game on the opposition and enjoy the challenge …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

Verdict: Marr have lost the last four in a row since they beat Currie, so they will be glad to return to home turf and having guys like Conor Bickerstaff back and Ali Rogers available will definitely help. This will be a good test for Accies new-look front-row and it will be nip and tuck. A big home crowd may help Marr back to winning ways.

Home win.

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GHA v Heriot’s Blues

Venue: Braidholm @ 2pm

Teams –

GHA: E Cunningham; L Bardelli, C Lonergan, K Dixon, A Caqusau; A Bogidrau, G Baird; E Cavan, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, K Watt, W Graham, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: A Pacha, L Barron, H McLeod, F Johnston, M MacFarlane.

Heriot’s Blues: C Simpson; R McKnight, P Christie, R Kay©, C Robertson; D Martin, G Wilson; M Bouab, D Dineen, A Bogle, L Gordon, C Jupp, C Anderson, S Wallace, A Johnston. Subs: M Toward, S Cessford, I Hill, R Thomson, R Jones.

Key battle: Dario Ewing versus Sam Wallace.

Team news –

GHA: Erik Cavan, Charlie Lonergan, Aminio Bogidrau and Max MacFarlane all make their comeback from injury this weekend. Kieran Watt and Euan Cunningham, both part of the Super6 Premiership player pool, will start with Glasgow academy player Harris McLeod on the bench.

Heriot’s Blues: There are a number of changes since our fixture versus Glasgow Hawks due to the Super6 Premiership player pool and academy availability, as well as players who have decided to move away from Super6.

What the coaches say –

“It’s been a case of self-reflection over the last two weeks and resetting our focus for the second half of the season. Heriot’s have improved since we played them last time and we expect a huge challenge this weekend. We have a few experienced players coming back from injury and mixed with our young talent we are looking for a more mature and controlled game. The boys have trained well this week and the Super6/academy players have gelled well into the squad. It’s a ‘must-win’ game this weekend for us, we will need to be focused, clinical and composed for 80 minutes …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

“We are still smarting from another poor second half against Hawks. The players and coaches have reacted well with a good two weeks of preparation for another crucial match. GHA are a side who like to throw it about so hopefully we will see another great advert for Premiership rugby …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

Verdict: When these sides met earlier in the campaign GHA won 48-24 at Goldenacre. Expect this game to be closer with Heriot’s having been able to add a bit of experience to their ranks, but GHA have key men back too.

Home win.

 

Glasgow Hawks v Selkirk

Venue: Balgray @ 2pm

Teams –

Glasgow Hawks: A McLean; S Graham, J Pinkerton, K Yule, R Flett, G Cruikshanks, E McAra; M Downer, I Totic, G Strain, S Leckey©, R Hart, S Hastings, D Sweeney, Oscar Baird. Subs: Oban Baird, I Carmichael, R Sweeney, E Davey, C Elliot.

Selkirk: R Cottrell; L Ferguson, J Welsh, R Nixon, B Pickles; C Jackson, Aaron McColm©; L Pettie©, B Riddell, Z Szwagrak, J Head, A Cochrane, Andrew McColm, S McClymont, M Job. Subs: J Bett, K Thompson, A Ferrie, J Hamilton, F Wheelans.

Key battle: Andy McLean versus Ryan Cottrell.

Team news –

Glasgow Hawks: The pack remains unchanged from the win against Heriot’s, while on the bench Oban Baird comes in to cover hooker after an impressive couple of week training, plus Iain Carmichael and Ryan Sweeney return to Hawks from Super6 to also take up the bench spots. In the backs there are a few changes. Euan McAra replaces Eric Davey at scrum-half, and young Kerr Yule replaces the injured Brendan McGroarty at 12, while Andy McLean comes in for Jamie Thompson at 15.

Selkirk: The pack has one change that sees Bruce Riddell swap in for James Bett at hooker. Backs-wise, Craig Jackson and Ross Nixon swap roles, meaning that the former is at 10 and the latter at 12 while Ryan Cottrell moves from wing to full-back, and Ben Pickles returns from Super6 to wear the No 11 jersey. Allan Ferrie of the Southern Knights is on the bench.

What the coaches say –

“Someone in Glasgow must be building an ark as the downpour looks set to continue on Saturday. In games like these it will come down to who wins the collisions in attack and defence, kicks the best and takes the odd opportunity that is presented to them. A game for the purists I reckon and not the running rugby both teams like to play. The winner of the game will be in the top four come the end of the 80 minutes and we are desperate to still be there and kick on. However, Selkirk are a quality outfit and will be desperate to turn us over like they did the last time …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“It’s a huge game for both team with the winner taking the driving seat for the top four. It was nice to have last week off which gave us time to clear up a few things and look at how we’ve performed in the first part of the season. We know that Andy will have Hawks in a very good place and Balgray is never an easy place to go, but it is a game the squad is looking forward to …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

Verdict: Selkirk edged out Hawks 22-15 back in September and this game could be just as close. Having Ben Pickles back is a boost for the visitors, but, given the likely conditions, this will be a game won and lost in the forwards. If Hawks can start as they finished versus Heriot’s they may just have enough in the tank, but it is a tough one to call.

Home win.

 

Hawick v Jed-Forest

(for the Bill McLaren Shield)

Venue: Mansfield Park @ 3pm

Teams –

Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, A Mitchell, E Reilly, R McKean; K Brunton, H Patterson; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, D Redpath, S Fairbairn, C Sutherland, C Renwick, R Tait. Subs: R Graham, R Macleod, S Graham, G Welsh, L Gordon-Woolley.

Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young, R Ferreira, R Shirra-Gibb; J Mcgough, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Scott, P Ferreira, D Wardrop, C Skeldon©, E Lauder, B McNeil, Garry Young. Subs: R Deans, T Cromarty, M Atkinson, A Sweenie, O Cranston.

Key battle: Rhys Tait versus Garry Young.

Team news –

Hawick: With Fraser Renwick coming in at hooker and Ross Graham back from a head knock to cover off the bench, regular skipper Matty Carryer drops out of the matchday squad. Shawn Muir takes on the captaincy role with local lad – and Glasgow academy player – Rhys Tait coming in at No 8 for the injured Jae Linton, and Australian Ethan Reilly starting at centre on his home debut.

Jed-Forest: Matt Atkinson is back after injury to take a place on the bench and Dan Wardrop starts after a hand issue. Garry Young is fit after a niggle kept him out of the Currie game so he is at No 8 and Ben McNeil shifts to seven for the unavailable Blake Roff. Edinburgh academy prop Robbie Deans comes into the squad on the bench.

What the coaches say –

“We know how tough a game this will be. Jed are a team who seem to be getting better week after week so we will have to be at the top of our game. We are progressing and feel we still have areas to improve on – and we feel our attack is one area that can improve going into Saturday. This is a massive game for us and the pressure is on us to perform, but we have trained well and with the added incentive of it being a Border derby it’s set up to be a cracking game …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

“It will be a physical, tough task ahead of us, but it’s one we are ready for. Last time out we competed and took Currie all the way, giving us confidence. There’s no doubt that Hawick will bring a physicality to the game that we will have to match …” – Andrew Brown (Jed-Forest)

Verdict: With a sold-out pre-match lunch and a big crowd expected, this should be an excellent Border derby. Hawick will certainly miss Jae Linton at No 8, but Rhys Tait is a more than able deputy while Jed have been getting better as the season has gone on and know how to ‘stay in the fight’ to coin Richard Cockerill’s favourite phrase.

Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 457 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.