Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 18th September

Eight games played in the league so far this season and eight different winning teams, suggests another intriguing round of matches is in store this afternoon

Hawick host Selkirk in a Border derby clash at Mansfield Park tomorrow. Image: Kenny Baillie
Hawick host Selkirk in a Border derby clash at Mansfield Park tomorrow. Image: Kenny Baillie

OF the eight completed Tennent’s Premiership matches in weeks one and two of this season there were eight home wins recorded, so it will be interesting to see if any away team can break that pattern this weekend.

Amazingly, in those eight games there have also been eight different winners meaning that Aberdeen Grammar and Jed-Forest – who have only played one match apiece to date – are the only sides yet to record a top flight victory in 2021-22.

That points to the fact that this season post-pandemic could be a very competitive one with a number of clubs scrapping it out for top four play-off places – and there are certainly some intriguing match ups to come this weekend …

HOW IT STANDS –

THE LOWDOWN –

HAWICK  v SELKIRK

(FOR THE BILL MCLAREN SHIELD)

VENUE: Mansfield Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Hawick: K Ford; R McKean, A Redpath, K Brunton, M Tait; B Donaldson, G Welsh; T Hope, M Carryer©, R Macleod, R Smith, S Fairbairn, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: N Little, C Tait, S Frizzel, D Lightfoot, J Delaney.

Selkirk: J Welsh; F Anderson, G Cottrell, R Nixon, B Pickles; C Anderson, S Clark; L Pettie©, J MacKay, B Riddell, T Brown, A McColm, A Cochrane, S McClymont, A Grant-Suttie. Subs: R Cook, K Thomson, J Anderson, J Hamilton, C Young.

KEY BATTLE: Jae Linton versus Andrew Grant-Suttie

TEAM NEWS –

Hawick: Logan Gordon-Woolley is out injured, so he is replaced at 13 by Aaron Redpath, while Morgan Tait comes in on the wing. New dad Stuart Graham and Calum Renwick come into the back-row with Sam Frizzel moving to the bench and Connor Sutherland out with a head knock. Teenager Corey Tait is among the replacements.

Selkirk: The visitors are without influential skipper Ewan MacDougall this week for his wedding, so Andrew Grant-Suttie move to No.8 from centre, the 12 jersey filled by experienced man Ross Nixon. With Donald Nicol injured, Andrew McColm moves up into the second-row from the back-row and youngster Andrew Cochrane comes in at six. Robert Cook, Joe Anderson and Jack Hamilton are added to the bench.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Very disappointing result last week up in Glasgow so this week we are looking to bounce back. We have worked hard in training and I am expecting a big performance as we know last week was not acceptable. The players know the task at hand with the added bonus of it being a Border derby. We know Selkirk are a very good side and after their win last week they will be full of confidence and looking to continue their momentum, but we want to make Mansfield park a tough place to come and are looking forward to the task ahead.” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

“There is no doubt about it, regardless the time of season, Hawick is a tough place to go, even more so with last week’s defeat as they will be keen to get back to winning ways, and with a home crowd it’s going to be tough. However, it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to and it’ll let us see exactly where we are after our opening match last week. ” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

VERDICT: Border derbies are always fiery affairs, so expect this one – which also happens to be for the Bill McLaren Shield – to be no different. To date, both have shown good attacking qualities this season, so it should be an open game if the conditions allow. Both teams were in the play-off spots in  2019-20 before the pandemic and will have eyes on the top four again, but in this game the absence of Ewan MacDougall may just see Hawick bounce back from their GHA loss.

Home win.


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MUSSELBURGH v EDINBURGH ACCIES

VENUE: Stoneyhill @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, L Brook, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; C Arthur, C Owenson, N McNairn, W Fleming, J Haynes, M Crawford, J Lister, L Hutson. Subs: A Forbes, B Stott, P Brown, L Kotze, V Kacori.

Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; H Janes, N Armstrong, R Mill, B Appleson; J Loomes, B Grainger; C Imrie, C Black©, R Montgomery, F Simpson, S Whittaker, M Walker, J Sole, R Campbell. Subs: F McAslan, C Taylor, A Inwood, B Afshar, W Stephen.

TEAM NEWS –

Musselburgh: Experienced duo Rory Watt and William Fleming return this week in the centre and the second-row respectively. Paul Cunningham is back from injury and he is at stand-off, meaning that skipper Danny Owenson moves to nine, and Luhann Kotze will look to make an impact from the bench.

Edinburgh Accies: Robbie Kent, Mark Sinclair, Clem Lacour and Callum Reid drop out of the match-day squad and are replaced by Neil Armstrong, Ben Appleson, Ryan Montgomery and Matt Walker, respectively. Cameron Taylor and Angus Inwood come onto the bench.

KEY BATTLE: Rory Watt versus Richard Mill

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Having Rory Watt and William Fleming back gives the team good experience and confidence as they are in key positions for us. Accies will be a difficult team to break down and I’m sure they will have a physical pack, but that will not phase us as we look to get another win after the loss at Selkirk. Accies tend to play an expansive game and we will look to stop that early while the last time we played them at Stoneyhill we didn’t perform and our guys will be looking to rectify that for sure.” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

“We were really pleased to get our season underway last week and with the effort of the squad after 18 months out. We know that Musselburgh will test us all over the park, both in attack and defence, and we will need to be at our best on both side of the ball.” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

VERDICT:  Musselburgh were frustrated by the way they played at Selkirk last week, but are a different animal on home soil and having William Fleming back in the pack is a definite boost. Accies got their delayed season underway in some style against Jed, but know they will face a tougher test here. Musselburgh will be fired up after a poor showing against the same opponents in 2019, but if Callum Black, Finlay Simpson, Jamie Sole and Richard Mill can come to the party then Accies may just be able to sneak an away win.

MARR v ABERDEEN GRAMMAR

VENUE: Fullarton Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Marr: J Scott; S Bickerstaff, J Shedden, C Bickerstaff©, I Turaga; C Inglis, S Broad; B Sweet, B Jardine, G Reid, D Andrew, H Murray, C Cunningham, M Pearce, B Johnston. Subs: C McMillan, W Farquhar, K McCulloch, S McDonald, G Ness.

Aberdeen Grammar: R Cameron; C Shephard, B Renton, T Aplin©, D Russell; S Knuudson, T Morrison; C Reddish, B Inglis, M Schosser, C Walker, P Mulholland, M Emmison, C Buchan, N Coe©. Subs: J Robertson, L Buchan, P Mulholland, E Fairweather, S Knudson.

TEAM NEWS – 

Marr: Robert Brown and Fraser Grant are unavailable due to work commitments, with Kyle Vallance, Colin Sturgeon and Greg Montgomery out injured. In the  pack, Harry Murray, Cody Cunningham and Ben Johnston return, and Gordon Reid will start at tight-head prop. Behind the scrum, Callum Inglis will start at stand-off with Jamie Shedden at outside centre.

Aberdeen Grammar: There will be a few late fitness tests before the bus leaves on Saturday morning due to knocks picked up in the defeat to Hawks. Craig Shephard has been brought in on the wing, and Paddy Mulholland into the second-row, so they will be keen to make an impact.

KEY BATTLE: Calum Redddish versus Gordon Reid

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Due to the virus that affected the first and second XV squads last weekend we didn’t train on Tuesday to allow players to recover and prevent it spreading to others. We are looking forward to playing Aberdeen at home as we aim to bounce back from our heavy defeat at Currie. Aberdeen have a strong pack, so we will need to be ready for the physical challenge they will bring. We have identified and worked on the areas where we were second best last week.” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“We were really disappointed with our performance against Glasgow Hawks and we have been working hard all week to put right some of the areas that went wrong. We have to be better with ball in hand to get some shape about our attack while our defence and first-up tackling must improve if we are to be competitive for 80 minutes.” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)

VERDICT: Marr were 31-0 down at half-time to Currie last weekend and, given the success they have had in recent years, that really will have hurt Craig Redpath and his players. Having missed their first home game on September 4th due to Covid concerns, the fixture computer has not been kind to Grammar with an away day at Hawks followed by another in Troon. Hard to see past a home win.

 

JED-FOREST v GLASGOW HAWKS

VENUE: Riverside Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young©, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, P Ferreira, C Skeldon, Garry Young,  B Roff, B McNeil, D Buckley. Subs: T Jeffrey, H Meadows, D Wardrop, K Grieve, A Bambrick.

Glasgow Hawks: L Brims; T Glendinning, M Stewart, F Gosse, R Joy; J Strain, F Burgess; M Downer, P Cairncross©, G Strain, S Halafili, A Syme, L Stewart, T Brown, L McNamara. Subs: I Carmichael, M  Ogunlaja, S Greig, J Pinkerton, J Thompson.

TEAM NEWS –

Jed-Forest: Winger Mason Cullen and back-rows Blake Roff and Ben McNeil come into the starting XV with Thomas Jeffrey coming onto the bench.

Glasgow Hawks: Hooker Paul Cairncross is stand-in captain with Stephen Leckey being injured. In the backs, Joe Strain comes in at 10 which sees Liam Brims move to 15. Ronan Joy comes in for his debut on the wing after recovering from an injury sustained in pre-season and managing an outing for the seconds last week. Off the bench, Jamie Thompson could debut.

KEY BATTLE: Lewis Young versus Liam Brims

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We are looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Accies against Hawks in our first home game of the season.” – Gavin Kerr (Jed-Forest)

“We look forward to going back down to Riverside after a feisty encounter there the last time. Jed always have a strong backbone to their squad and will look to improve on their performance last week in their first home game of the season.” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

VERDICT:  Jed shipped 45 points away to Accies last week in their delayed season opener while at the same time Hawks were comfortably beating Grammar at Balgray. Like most team’s in this division, Jed are a different animal at home and, in front of what is likely to be a decent crowd, they should get their first positive result of 2021-22 on the board after a real arm wrestle. Home win.

CURRIE CHIEFTAINS v GHA

VENUE: Malleny Park @ 3pm

TEAM –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meagher, R Southern, DJ Innes, C Grey; G Hunter, P Boyer; G Carson, R Stewart, G Scougall, R Davies, H Ferguson, G Nelson, F Scott©, W Nelson. Subs: T Banatvala, C Ramsay, S Edwards, C Lessels, M Bradshaw.

GHA: G Mollison; A Scott; C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, L Bardelli; J Crilly, G Baird; T Brogan, E Cavan, M Fox, J Bruce, J McCarthy©, D Ewing, W Graham, W Alton. Subs: G Hiddleston, M Marinkovic, L McCutcheon, J MacKinnon, R O’Keefe.

TEAM NEWS –

Currie Chieftains: AP McWilliam is unavailable so Graeme Carson moves to his preferred position of loosehead prop and Ryan Stewart starts at hooker. In the backs, Cammy Grey starts ahead of Matt Bradshaw on the wing. Tom Banatvala comes onto the bench alongside Sam Edwards, who has returned from a concussion suffered in pre-season, while Cameron Lessels is also added as a replacement.

GHA: The backs are unchanged from last week. In the front-row, Erik Cavan gets his first start of the season, while Adam Kerr failed a fitness test on Thursday evening so Jack Bruce moves up to the second-row and Will Alton comes in at No8. Jamie MacKinnon and Ruairi O’Keefe come onto the bench.

KEY BATTLE: Paddy Boyer versus George Baird

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“The guys have trained really hard this week and there has been a great buzz about the club after last week’s win against Marr. We know how hard we worked on and off the field to get that result and that we need to keep improving to get the right result on Saturday. GHA showed how close this league is going to be with a great win against Hawick and I am sure they will be relishing the opportunity to come to Malleny.” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“We had a great result last week against Hawick as did Currie Chieftains against Marr, this will be a huge challenge for us and the boys have been working hard this week at training. Currie are probably the best team in the league, we are looking to build on last week’s performance and test ourselves – we will require a full squad effort for 80 minutes.” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

VERDICT: GHA played well against Hawick, but Currie were outstanding against Marr and it is hard to see past a home win for them at Malleny Park.


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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.