Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 19th November

Second placed Currie Chieftains host third placed Edinburgh Accies in a capital city derby

Edinburgh Accies make the trip across the capital to take on Currie Chieftains. Image: John Wright
Edinburgh Accies make the trip across the capital to take on Currie Chieftains. Image: John Wright

FOUR Premiership matches are hoping to beat the rain and sodden pitches this weekend, and if they manage it then there are some cracking games in store.

Leaders Hawick will be defending the Bill McLaren Shield once again and will be looking for a 10th win on the spin when they host bottom side Musselburgh at Mansfield Park.

There is a mouth-watering capital derby in store at Malleny Park when Currie Chieftains, in second, take on third placed Edinburgh Accies.

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GHA parted company with head coach Trevor Carmichael this week so his former assistant Calum Forrester will be in charge going forward, but he is away just now so Jamie McCarthy is in charge this weekend. The seventh placed side make the short trip to Balgray to face fifth placed Glasgow Hawks this weekend.

Sixth placed Marr take on ninth placed Heriot’s Blues with both teams looking to build on the momentum of last week’s morale-boosting wins over Edinburgh Accies and GHA respectively.

How it stands –

The Lowdown –

Currie Chieftains v Edinburgh Accies

Venue: Malleny Park @ 1.15pm

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, R Southern, DJ Innes, K McGovern; A Hall, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, W Inglis, E Stewart, M Vernel, G Nelson, R Davies©. Subs: J Ramsay, G Scougall, A McCallum, I Sim, R Daley.

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; K Gossman, A Thom, V Hart, L Wells; J Loomes©, B Grainger; C Imrie, C Black, S Habib, C Bain, R Thomson, T Drennan, J Sole, R Campbell. Subs: E Stuart, H Campbell, A Wood, S Broad, C Ramm.

Key battle: Adam Hall versus Jamie Loomes.

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: A settled pack with the only changes being the selection of Jacob Ramsay and Ally McCallum on the bench. In the backs, Adam Hall starts at 10, Ryan Southern moves into 13, and James McCaig is back at 14. Iain Sim from Southern Knights and Ryan Daley from Watsonians Super6 join the subs.

Edinburgh Accies: Skipper Jamie Loomes returns after injury to the starting team for the first time since the opening weekend at 10 with Ben Appleson reverting to full-back. Vincent Hart and Alex Thom make up a new centre pairing, in for the unavailable Robbie Kent and Max Wallace, and Callum Ramm of Boroughmuir Bears Super6 comes onto the bench.  In the forwards, Cole Imrie, Callum Black and Tom Drennan return to the starting line up with Hamish Campbell, Alistair Wood and the experienced Ed Stuart – who is making his first appearance of the season in the squad – coming onto the bench.

What the coaches say –

“The last time Accies were at Malleny was the play-off semi-final last season and it proved to be a great contest in front a big crowd. We expect a good turnout again on Saturday and we are looking forward to playing an Accies team that will want to put things right after last week. This is the strongest squad we have had out this season so far and the guys have trained well and will need to be at their best …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“Last week’s defeat has given us some real key focus points before we head to Malleny Park this weekend to play Currie, who are one of the flagship teams in the Premiership and very consistent in performance and selection …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

Verdict: The return of Jamie Loomes is a big boost for Edinburgh Accies, but the Currie squad looks strong and with the likes of Iain Sim and Ryan Daley coming off the bench the home side should be too strong here in an entertaining match.

Home win.


Hawick v Musselburgh

(for the Bill McLaren Shield)

Venue: Mansfield Park @ 1.15pm

Teams –

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

Musselburgh: P Cunningham; R Smith, F Thomson, R Watt©, S Watt; M McMillan, F Call; C Owenson, B Stott, E Bonthron, J Haynes, M Badenhorst, J Herbert, J Lister, P Bogie. Subs: F Duraj, R Hanning, M Crawford, R Young, D Owenson.

Key battle: Ruaridh Macleod versus Craig Owenson.

Team news –

Hawick: Rotation in the front-row sees Ruaridh Macleod come in at tight-head – to make his first start since Jed away at the start of the season – and Ross Graham start at hooker. Super6 Premiership player pool player Erem Demirel (Southern Knights) starts in the second-row with Shaun Fairbairn moving to No 8 due to Jae Linton still struggling with a niggle. Gareth Welsh replaces Hector Patterson at nine. Stand-in skipper Shawn Muir makes his 200th appearance.

Musselburgh: Opportunity knocks for a new look back-row with Josh Herbert, Jordan Lister and Boroughmuir’ Bears’ Paul Bogie making up a physical and mobile unit. Fin Thomson and Rory Watt trade places in the centres and Danny Owenson returns from an injury sustained against Heriot’s on the bench. Ross Brown joins the squad this week as 21st man, another promising young prop whom depending on whether or not Craig Owenson passes a late fitness test, may make his debut off the bench.

What the coaches say –

“We have worked hard at training this week to improve on a few areas of our game that we didn’t quite get right against Jed. Our main frustration was how much territory and possession we had, but struggled to find accuracy at times to convert that pressure into points. We know how big a game this is for both teams and the pressure is on us again, but we are starting to deal with the pressure better and we are really excited to get back out on Mansfield. Musselburgh have had some unlucky results so we know they will be coming to fight for everything so we must stay focused and look to build an 80 minute performance …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

“Selection has been a tricky affair this week with a re-arranged fixture shoehorned into a point in the season where players want, quite rightly, to go and support their national team despite there being seven weeks between round one and two of the Scottish Cup. Injuries too add to our woes with an entire frontline back-row falling foul.  It means we are without some frontline players and need to concede our 2nd XV fixture as a result. Last week’s score-line flattered Currie and we believe progress is still being made at Stoneyhill despite the loss. Moving to this week, there is no shying away from the fact that a double-header against Hawick is a massive challenge for us. How we respond to the challenge will define our final run in of games over the next couple of months so in some ways you couldn’t ask for better preparation for the business end; playing the champions, the ‘perennial favourites’ and a two match series against ‘The Invincibles’ in your first block of games in round two …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)

Verdict: Hawick will be wanting to get a 10th win in a row on the board to help skipper Shawn Muir mark his double century milestone in style. Musselburgh are improving and having Michael Badenhorst and Paul Bogie from Super6 in the pack will help, but hard to see past Hawick marching on.

Home win.


Marr v Heriot’s Blues

Venue: Fullarton Park @ 1.15pm

Teams –

Marr: C Inglis; J Scott; J Jacobson, N Calder, C Bickerstaff©, T Steven; C Inglis, G Baird; A Rogers, B Jardine, C Miller, D Andrew, G Reid, E Hamilton-Bulger, C Young, C Folan. Subs: S Reekie, R Brocket, C Steel, M O’Sullivan, A Ramage.

Heriot’s Blues: P Christie; C Dineen, O Quinn, R Kay©, C Robertson; R Jones, R Thomson; M Bouab, D Dineen, S Cessford, S Johnstone, L Gordon, A Johnston, I Hill, C Anderson. Subs: M Toward, A Bogle, M Keough, G Wilson, R Steele.

Key battle: Grant Baird versus Ross Thomson

Team news –

Marr: Fraser Grant, Ben Johnston, Colin Sturgeon, Greg Montgomery and Scott Bickerstaff are all unavailable this week from last week’s starting team. Jack Scott, Tom Steven, Jake Jacobson, Ewan Hamilton-Bulger (Ayrshire Bulls Super6) and Callum Folan all come in to replace them.

Heriot’s Blues: Charlie Simpson, Ross McKnight, Sam Wallace, Charlie Jupp and Dom Martin drop out for a variety of reasons, but Sean Johnstone returns to the second-row. Ross Thomson gets a start along with Ross Jones to create a new half back partnership.

What the coaches say –

“After a great performance last week against Edinburgh Accies the confidence in the squad has been lifted. We have a number of experienced players unavailable for this re-arranged fixture. This has resulted in five changes in the starting team. We have trained and prepared well for this tough home fixture against a Heriot’s team that has been bolstered by a number of Super6 and Academy players. We look forward to that challenge and look forward to a good home support cheering us on like they did in the second half against Edinburgh Accies …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“We were delighted to get the full five points last week against a strong GHA side. This week and next will be tough as we have back-to-back fixtures against reigning champions Marr. While they have had a bit of a rollercoaster so far it is clear they are capable of playing as they did to win the championship last season, particularly at home …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)

Verdict: Both sides had good wins last week and both sides are missing experienced players. If the Marr pack can gain the upper hand then home advantage should see them through a tight – and high scoring – affair.

Home win.


Glasgow Hawks v GHA

Venue: Balgray @ 2pm

Teams –

Glasgow Hawks: E Muirhead; S Graham, C Elliot, K Yule, R Darroch; D McCartney, E Davey; M Downer, I Totic©, G Strain, R Hart, Oscar Baird, S Hastings, D Sweeney, R Sweeney. Subs: Oban Baird, I Carmichael, M Crumlish, E McAra, J Thompson.

GHA: E Cunningham; L Bardelli, C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, A Caqusau; T Lonergan, G Baird; E Cavan, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, K Watt, W Graham, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: J Low, L Barron, R Hay, F Johnston, C King.

Key battle: David McCartney versus Tom Lonergan.

Team news –

Glasgow Hawks: Only two backs that started versus Selkirk retain their place this week in the shape of Sam Graham and Kerr Yule. Eric Davey and Euan McAra switch roles while David McCartney comes in at 10 for Gavin Cruickshanks. Chris Elliot and Ross Darroch come in to replace James Pinkerton and Ryan Flett who are both injured while Andy McLean is sat out to allow him to recover from a few niggles he has been carrying allowing an opportunity for Euan Muirhead to start at full-back, with Jamie Thompson coming onto the bench. In the forwards, the only change to the starting XV is Ryan Sweeney coming in for Stephen Leckey with Oscar Baird moving into the second-row to accommodate. Max Crumlish makes his return on the bench after injury and illness.

GHA: Experienced centre Max MacFarlane comes back into the mix at 12 and Tom Lonergan moves into 10 for this weekend with his brother Charlie at 13. There are three changes to last week’s bench with Josh Low, Ross Hay and Cameron King joining the squad.

What the coaches say –

“It’s sad to see Trevor go but I’m sure we will see a response from GHA this weekend …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“It’s a really exciting two weeks for the club with a double-header derby against our local rivals Glasgow Hawks. The boys have had two really productive and focused training sessions this week and are looking forward to the challenge. If previous fixtures are anything to by, this weekend will be a closely contested physical encounter. We have some experienced players returning to the squad this week and the boys are excited …” – Jamie McCarthy (GHA)

Verdict: It has been a tough week for GHA’s players, losing head coach Trevor Carmichael. His replacement Calum Forrester is on holiday, so Jamie McCarthy and others have prepared the team. Defence has been their issue of late, leaking 78 points in the last two games, while Hawks were disappointed with a home reverse to Selkirk last time out. This will be a real battle and it is a big day for two new 10s.

Home win … just.

Premiership: Hawick stalwart Shawn Muir brings up his double-century

About Gary Heatly 320 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.