Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 16th October

Gordon Reid is pressed into action in the second-row for Marr as league leaders welcome Musselburgh to Fullarton Park

GHA host the city rivals Glasgow Hawks at Braidholm. Image: Colin Robinson
GHA host the city rivals Glasgow Hawks at Braidholm. Image: Colin Robinson

THE number of away wins posted in the Tennent’s Premiership for the season doubled from three to six last week, so what will Saturday’s fixtures have in store for us?

Well, there is a big Glasgow derby at Braidholm with eighth placed GHA hosting fifth placed Glasgow Hawks and matches between these two are never dull.

Leaders Marr and second placed Currie Chieftains both won on the road last week, but their respective head coaches believe they still have not found top gear yet which is perhaps ominous for sixth placed Musselburgh and bottom side Aberdeen Grammar as they prepare for trips to Troon and Balerno respectively.

Hawick are in third and will host Jed-Forest in a tasty-looking Borders derby, the visitors being seventh, but having had a good home win last time out.

And fourth placed Edinburgh Accies will be looking to take their home form on their travels when they head to ninth placed Selkirk.

HOW IT STANDS –

THE LOWDOWN –

SELKIRK V EDINBURGH ACCIES

VENUE: Philiphaugh @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Selkirk: C McNeil; F Anderson, B Pickles, C Anderson, A Bulman; S Clark, J Hamilton; L Pettie, B Riddell, J Anderson, A McColm, T Brown, R Cook, S McClymont, E MacDougall©. Subs: R Purves, K Thomson, C Turnbull, I Martin, C Young.

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, W Stephen, M Sinclair; J Loomes, B Afshar; C Imrie, F McAslan, C Lacour, J Mills, F Simpson, C Reid, M Walker, R Campbell©. Subs: R Montgomery, G Stevenson, S Whittaker, J Troup, R Mill.

KEY BATTLE: Ben Pickles versus Robbie Kent

TEAM NEWS –

Selkirk: Two changes in the pack with Donald Nichol and James Bett not available, so Andrew McColm moves up into the second-row with Robert Cook coming into the number six jersey after playing well in the seconds. Bruce Riddell moves from prop to hooker with Joe Anderson on the bench. In the backline, Ross Nixon is unavailable through injury which means Callum Anderson moves from 15 to 12, Callum McNeil goes from wing to full-back, and Andrew Bulman comes onto the wing for his first start.

Edinburgh Accies: An unchanged backline, two changes in the pack with Jake Mills coming in for the unavailable Angus Inwood, and Callum Reid replacing the injured Jamie Sole. Struan Whittaker and Richard Mill come onto the bench.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“After Accies had a great result last week against GHA they will be full of confidence. It’s a game that we know is going to be tough but we’ve just got to concentrate on the things we can control and take confidence from our performance last week against Marr …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

“We must start to perform when we are away and that is the challenge this weekend versus a Selkirk side that are picking up some form …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

VERDICT: Selkirk were beaten, but took heart from the loss to Marr last week and now have another home match to really try and get their season up and running after a ‘stop-start’ couple of months for one reason or another. Accies at home have been on fire, Accies away have not lit up yet, but this could be the day when they do it.

Narrow away win.


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HAWICK V JED-FOREST

VENUE: Mansfield Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Hawick: B Donaldson; M Tait, L Gordon-Woolley, Glen Welsh, R McKean; K Ford, Gareth Welsh; T Hope, M Carryer©, R Macleod, C Sutherland, S Fairbairn, C Tait, S Graham, J Linton. Subs: A Ford, S Mabon, C Renwick, D Lightfoot, K Brunton.

Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young©, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, P Ferreira, C Skelton, G Law, Garry Young. B Roff, D Buckley. Subs: C Hogg, H Meadows, E Lauder, B Howe, K Grieve.

KEY BATTLE: Tom Hope versus Paulo Ferreira

TEAM NEWS –

Hawick: Rory Smith is away on holiday so Connor Sutherland comes into the second-row, Stuart Graham returns to the starting team at seven. Logan Gordon-Woolley comes back from a head knock to slot back in at 13. Steven Mabon joins the bench.

Jed-Forest: Paulo Ferreira starts at tighthead, Clark Skeldon and Gregor Law are selected in the second-row ,with Blake Roff at openside flanker. The backs remain unchanged, Connor Hogg, Harry Meadows, Elliot Lauder, Ben Howe and Kyle Grieve make up the bench.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Another Border derby this weekend against a very strong Jed side who will be looking to come to Mansfield for a result after their good form in past weeks. We know what’s at stake and the players will be more than ready for the task. We need to make Mansfield a hard place for any team to come and be switched on from the first whistle. We know we need to be at the top of our game and put in an 80 minute performance to be on the right side of this result, we need to start turning pressure into points to be able to be a top four side this season …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

“Nothing better than a Border derby to get Hawick and Jed-Forest supporters talking rugby. Training has gone well this week in the build up to what will be a another highly competitive Premiership game …” – Scott Tomlinson (Jed-Forest)

VERDICT: Border derbies are always tough to call and this one will be no different. You get the feeling that both sides are really up for this one after wins last week and it really should be an intriguing affair. Hawick will look to dominate up front while Jed will know they will make chances if their dangerous backs get enough ball.

A thrilling, tight, home win.

 

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GHA V GLASGOW HAWKS

VENUE: Braidholm @ 3pm

TEAMS –

GHA: G Mollison; N Kelly, C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, S Carden; C Armstrong, G Baird; T Brogan, G Hiddleston, M Fox, J Bruce, J McCarthy©, W Alton, W Graham, L McCutcheon. Subs: E Cavan, L Archer, J McEntegart, J MacKinnon, A Stirrat.

Glasgow Hawks: Y Ala-gilly; H Hughes, M Stewart, F Gosse, R Joy; L Brims©, F Burgess; M Downer, I Totic, G Strain, A Syme, J McLean, L Stewart, T Brown, L McNamara. Subs: P Cairncross, M Ogunlaja, R Chisholm, M Donaldson, J Pinkerton.

KEY BATTLE: Lewis Stewart versus Will Alton

TEAM NEWS –

GHA: The same pack starts as last week with Erik Cavan coming onto the bench. Nigel Kelly is on the wing with Jamie McKinnon coming back into the squad on the bench, alongside first-timer Andy Stirrat.

Glasgow Hawks: The pack stays the same as last week except injured club captain Stephen Leckey is replaced by the returning Andrew Syme. In the backs, Fraser Gosse returns at 12 and Matthew Stewart moves to 13. Yousif Ala-gilly is rewarded for his form in the second XV and training, as are Harry Hughes and Ruairidh Chisholm who will both make their debuts, Hughes on the wing and Chisholm from the bench.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“So far the season has been a bit of ‘stop-start’ for us, but we need to start putting some consistent performances together over the next few weeks. The challenge doesn’t come any tougher than a Glasgow derby match against Glasgow Hawks who have been playing well this season. It’s game the boys don’t need to too much motivation to get up for …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

“We look forward to our trip to Braidholm on Saturday and if our last time is anything to go by it will be a great showcase for rugby in Glasgow. However, this time we hope to be on the other end of the result and get back to winning ways. GHA will be disappointed after losing to Accies last week and will be looking to bounce back so we are well aware of the challenge that faces us …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

VERDICT: GHA have scored over 30 points at home in wins over Hawick and Selkirk respectively, but they were beaten 22-0 by Marr at Braidholm, and their issue has been keeping points out at the other end having let in 175 in just six games. Hawks will have been frustrated by tight losses in their last two games and you feel they might get back to winning ways here.

Away win after a high scoring clash.

 

CURRIE CHIEFTAINS V ABERDEEN GRAMMAR

VENUE: Malleny Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meagher, R Southern, DJ Innes, J McCaig; A Hall, C Lessels; AP McWilliam, R Stewart, G Scougall, R Davies, H Ferguson, G Nelson, F Scott©, W Nelson. Subs: G Carson, C Ramsay, C Roman, F Sayers, P Boyer.

Aberdeen Grammar: R Cameron; N Brown, D Russell, T Aplin©, C Shepherd; S Knudson, A Addy; R Anderson, B Inglis, M Schosser, C Walker, J Robertson, G Ryan, G Robertson, C Buchan. Subs: L Buchan, P Mulholland, S Renfrew, B Renton, P Ritchie.

KEY BATTLE: Cameron Lessels versus Ali Addy

TEAM NEWS –

Currie Chieftains: Ryan Stewart starts at hooker after strong performances off the bench in recent weeks. In the backs, Adam Hall moves to 10 as Gregor Hunter is unavailable, Ryan Southern is back so moves into 13. On the bench, Fraser Sayers gets a call up after consistent performances for the ‘A’ side and Paddy Boyer is available again.

Aberdeen Grammar: Nathan Brown returns to the wing and Ali Addy moves into scrum-half with Tommy Morrison unavailable.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We were disappointed about how we failed to adapt to the problems Hawks gave us last week. We have been working hard on specific aspects of that match that let us down but I am sure Aberdeen Grammar will challenge us in different ways. The next step for us as a team is to problem solve on the pitch and find the most effective way to win …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“On the back of a better defensive performance against Hawick, we have to find our attacking threat again. We have found it tough against Currie in recent times but we are confident that we have made improvements this week to help us take something from the game …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)

VERDICT: One team has won four from five to date this term while the other has lost five from five, so on paper it looks like Currie should win this one comfortably. Having Nathan Brown back on the wing is a boost for Grammar whose attack has not fired yet, while Gregor Hunter missing for Currie gives the visitors a glimmer of hope, but that is all it is likely to be.

Home win.

 

MARR V MUSSELBURGH

VENUE: Fullarton Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Marr: G Montgomery; J Shedden, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff©, I Turaga; C Inglis, J Scott; B Sweet, B Nicholl, W Farquhar, D Andrew, G Reid, C Steel, R Brown, H Murray. Subs: C McMillan, C Smith, K McCulloch, S McDonald, G Beckwith.

Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, J Ferguson, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; P Brown, C Owenson, C Arthur, W Fleming, D Slaven, M Crawford, J Lister, L Hutson. Subs: R Stott, N McNairn, J Haynes, L Kotze, M McMillan.

KEY BATTLE: Gordon Reid versus William Fleming

TEAM NEWS –

Marr: A few changes from the game against Selkirk. Sinjin Broad is unavailable, so Jack Scott moves to scrum-half and Iosefo Turaga starts on the wing.  With Fraser Grant and Ben Johnston not available, Gordon Reid starts in the second-row – is there anything that man can’t do? Harry Murray moves to No.8 and Callum Steel comes in at blindside flanker.

Musselburgh: James Ferguson replaces Rory Watt at 13 while Michael Maltman is unavailable so Luke Hutson joins the back-row at No8. Michael McMillan earns a bench spot.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“It is always good to get an away win at Selkirk. We were disappointed in our performance and not taking a few of the chances to score last Saturday. We have worked hard in training to improve a few areas in preparation for Musselburgh at home. Musselburgh will be a tough challenge as they have a strong pack and are playing some good rugby through their backs. Their back three looks dangerous with ball in hand. We will need to improve to prevent Musselburgh gaining their first away win on Saturday …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“A trip to Marr is always a tough one, but we are going there with a positive attitude despite the disappointing result against Jed last week. We played pretty well in the first half versus Jed and dominated in the set-piece, so we want to take that into this game, but for 80 minutes. Craig and his side will want to stay out on top so we will have to be on our game and not let them get away from us in the early stages. We will have to fight to the end to cause an upset, but we have trained well this week and the guys are prepared for the challenge ahead …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

VERDICT: There is no doubt that Marr are missing a few key men up front and their squad is a bit stretched, but they pride themselves on winning games at Fullarton. It will be interesting to see how ex-Scotland prop Gordon Reid gets on in the second-row. Musselburgh have won their three home games, but have not been able to replicate that form on the road.

Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 200 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.