Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 23rd October

Four players from the recent Super6 season have opted to return to the Premiership

Scott Bickerstaff carries the ball for Marr against Edinburgh Accies during the las Premiership campaign. Image: Kenneth Ferguson

MUSSELBURGH will celebrate their centenary on Saturday when they take on Hawick in the Tennent’s Premiership at Stoneyhill. The East Lothian club was formed on February 15th, 1921 and played their first match on November 2nd 1921 when they were captained by Tilly Shorthouse away to the Royal College of Surgeons and managed to win 9-3.

In 1946 they played Hawick to mark their 25th anniversary, in 1971 they took on the Greens to mark their 50th anniversary and in 1996 they faced the Borderers as they reached 75 years. As a result, it is fitting that they are once again hosting Hawick to bring up three figures – and it promises to be a cracking match.

Musselburgh are sixth in the table and known to be very hard to beat on their own turf while third placed Hawick are looking to make it four wins on the spin.


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Elsewhere, the Aberdeen Grammar versus GHA match has been postponed due to Covid concerns in the home camp while leaders Marr welcome fourth placed Edinburgh Accies to Fullarton Park.

Second placed Currie Chieftains are on the road to the Borders to take on seventh placed Jed-Forest with fifth placed Glasgow Hawks welcoming ninth placed Selkirk to Balgray.

There are three players who were part of Super6 squads in that league’s recently completed season who have dropped down this week to play in the Premiership this weekend – Andrew Mitchell of Hawick, Callum Young of Jed-Forest, and Callum Marshall of Selkirk – indicating that they do not intend to sign new contracts next season.

A player draft which has been devised to give academy and fringe players who did not get much game-time in Super6 a chance to play at Premiership level during the next few months will start next weekend. A total of 52 players have been identified, although this is likely to be reduced to around 30 or 40 players in practice, and they are to be shared equally amongst the 10 Premiership clubs. The scheme is to operate from 30th October to 11th December.

It is not confirmed at this stage when the next instalment of Super6 will start but it will be post-Six Nations. The East versus West Super6 match [supposed to consist of a representative side from Heriot’s, Southern Knight and Watsonians against a representative side from Ayrshire Bulls, Boroughmuir Bears and Stirling County] which had been scheduled for next Friday was cancelled earlier this week.

HOW IT STANDS –

THE LOWDOWN –

MUSSELBURGH V HAWICK

VENUE: Stoneyhill @ 3pM

TEAMS –

Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, R Smith, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; TBC, C Owenson, C Arthur, W Fleming, P Brown, M Maltman, M Crawford, L Hutson. Subs: R Stott, , J Haynes, J Lister, M McMillan, L Brook.

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

KEY BATTLE: Rory Watt versus Andrew Mitchell

TEAM NEWS –

Musselburgh: Rory Smith replaces the unavailable James Ferguson at 13 with Michael Maltman re-joins the back-row. Paddy Brown moves from loosehead prop to second-row with Declan Slaven unavailable, while the No1 jersey will be filled after late fitness tests on a couple of players.

Hawick: Andrew Mitchell has re-joined the club from the Southern Knights Super6 outfit so he slots in at 12. Calum Renwick comes in at six for Corey Tait. Shawn Muir takes up a spot on the bench for his first league action since suffering an ankle injury on the opening day of the season.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We were disappointed not to take more from last week’s Marr game in terms of points. We can take some positives from it in that we created opportunities and gave them a game physically. We are excited to be back at home for the club’s centenary game against Hawick and we want to marry up a good result with the performance. We will need to match Hawick up-front physically and deny them front-foot ball. We continue in our quest to make Stoneyhill a real fortress and I believe we can match any team in the league on our day. We want to put in a performance fitting of such a historic day at the club …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

“We are under no illusion on how tough a place Stoneyhill is to play and get a result. Musselburgh are playing some very good rugby this season and will be looking to bounce back from a defeat to Marr last weekend. We have worked hard at training this week as we know we need to be at the top of our game, especially away from home, to get a result, and we need to start backing up performances on the road if we want to stay in touch with the top two in the league …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

VERDICT: There will be a big crowd at Stoneyhill for this one as Musselburgh mark 100 years of the club. Hawick are certainly boosted by the return of Andrew Mitchell and Shawn Muir, and have a settled looking squad now, but you just feel that the magnitude of the occasion may well see Musselburgh putting in an all-action performance.

A hard fought home win.

 

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GLASGOW HAWKS V SELKIRK

VENUE: Balgray @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Glasgow Hawks: J Pinkerton; C Kennedy, B McGroarty, F Gosse, R Joy; L Brims©, M Donaldson; M Downer, I Totic, G Strain, A Syme, J McLean, L Stewart, T Brown, L McNamara. Subs: P Cairncross, A Rogers, R Chisholm, F Burgess, M Stewart.

Selkirk: C McNeil; F Anderson, C Anderson, E MacDougall©, A Bulman; S Clark, J Hamilton; L Pettie, B Riddell, J Anderson, T Brown, P Forrest, A McColm, R Cook, C Marshall. Subs: M Haldane, D Nichol, S McClymont, C Young, TBC.

KEY BATTLE: Lewis McNamara versus Callum Marshall

TEAM NEWS –

Glasgow Hawks: The pack is the same as last week with Ruairidh Chisholm looking to build on his debut and Ali Rogers replacing Moby Ogunlaja on the bench. In the backs, a couple of injuries to Yousif Ala-gilly and last week’s scoring debutant Harry Hughes sees James Pinkerton come in at 15 and Charlie Kennedy given his first opportunity with the first XV on the wing. The experienced Brendan McGroarty comes in for Matthew Stewart at centre and Matt Donaldson gets his first start at nine with Finlay Burgess moving to the bench.

Selkirk: Ben Pickles is missing due to injury to add to the number of backs who are out, so the decision has been made to switch skipper Ewan McDougall to 12 from No8. In the pack, Callum Marshall returns home after re-joining from Super6 outfit Heriot’s Rugby, while Peter Forrest is in the second-row. Donald Nicol is available this week, but returns to the bench with Robert Cook keeping his place in the back-row.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Selkirk may sit second bottom of the table but when you look at their results you see they are not far away from clicking. Other than GHA, who beat them comprehensively when they were struggling with injuries, they have played the current top four and have averaged losing by less than a try. They have players returning and having been in their position we know how desperate they will be to pick up points. Having beaten us at Balgray in our last fixture we know this will be a tough encounter and we will need to be at our best …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“Hawks are coming off a great derby win which will have their confidence high in camp. The boys are very positive and with a few olds faces returning this week we’ve worked hard, but it’s very challenging with team selection changing so much every week to find any consistency …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

VERDICT: Hawks will really want to build on their impressive performance away at GHA last week and having a settled pack and experienced centre Brendan McGroarty back will help them. Having Callum Marshall in the ranks following a Super6 stint will give Selkirk a boost and he and captain Ewan MacDougall, playing out of position, will have to lead from the front if they are to get anything from this one.

Hawks to kick on after last week’s home win.

 

JED-FOREST V CURRIE CHIEFTAINS

VENUE: Riverside Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, Gregor Young©, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; R Nichol, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Campbell, H Meadows, C Skelton, G Law D Wardrop, B Roff, B McNeil. Subs: TBC, P Ferreira, E Lauder, N Stingl, M Cullen.

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

KEY BATTLE: Lewis Young versus Charlie Brett

TEAM NEWS –

Jed-Forest: Clark Skeldon and Gregor Law are reunited in the second-row, Dan Wardrop moves to six with Ben McNeil at No8, and Finlay Scott comes in on the bench. In the backs, Aiden Bambrick and Ross Nichol start at nine and 10, the returning Callum Young starts on the wing with Mason Cullen moving to the bench.

Currie Chieftains: Gregor Hunter is back at 10 and Fraser Sayers starts on the wing after replacing Cammy Meager early last week due to injury and bagging two tries. The pack is settled.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“After last week’s disappointing display against a good Hawick team we aim to get our season back on track. The squad has trained well this week and we look forward to the challenge that Currie will bring …” – Scott Tomlinson (Jed-Forest)

“We are excited to be heading down to play a club with a rich history, it’s a real privilege to play at such an iconic rugby ground. It’s going to be a big challenge, Jed have some real threats in their backline and a pack that gets them go forward. We have been playing some great rugby in spells but the next step is to produce a more complete performance over the 80 minutes …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

VERDICT: This one is tough to call. Jed, by their own admission, got going too late in the piece away to Hawick last week and will want to put that right on home turf. Having speedster Callum Young back in the ranks from Super6 will give them another attacking threat. However, Currie have built up some good momentum of late and with Gregor Hunter back to pull the strings may just edge this one.

Narrow away win.

 

MARR V EDINBURGH ACCIES

VENUE: Fullarton Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Marr: G Montgomery; J Shedden, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff©, I Turaga; C Inglis, J Scott; B Sweet, C McMillan, W Farquhar, D Andrew, G Reid, F Grant, R Brown, H Murray. Subs: S Adair, C Smith, M Pearce, G Beckwith, C Sturgeon.

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, N Armstrong, M Sinclair; W Stephen, B Afshar; C Imrie, C Black©, E Stuart, J Mills, S Whittaker, F Simpson, T Jones, R Campbell. Subs: R Orr-Ewing, F McAslan, A Inwood, J Troup, R Mill.

KEY BATTLE: Callum Inglis versus Will Stephen

TEAM NEWS –

Marr: Only one change to the starting team with Fraser Grant returning in the back-row in place of the injured Callum Steel. The bench has been strengthened by the return of Mackenzie Pearce and Colin Sturgeon from injury.

Edinburgh Accies: Neil Armstrong comes in at 12 with Will Stephen moving to 10, while up front stalwart Ed Stuart is back in 1st XV action at tight-head prop with Ted Jones also in at number seven.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“After a good home win and improved performance against Musselburgh we are looking forward to playing Edinburgh Accies at Fullarton on Saturday. They have had a good start to the season and visit us after a good away win against Selkirk. They are balanced team who have a strong pack and a backline that are prepared to attack from anywhere on pitch. They will be confident of leaving Fullarton with a win on Saturday and climbing further up the table. We have prepared well this week and are looking forward to the challenge…” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“After a good away win last week, we look forward to the challenge that Marr will bring at Fullarton Park…”– Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

VERDICT: Marr seemed to be a lot happier with their performance last week than in previous games and having Fraser Grant back to star, and Mackenzie Pearce and Colin Sturgeon to come off the bench, will only make them stronger. Accies had a great result away at Selkirk last time out, but have had to make a few changes to the starting XV for this one.

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.

11 Comments

  1. A P McWilliam (Boroughmuir Bears/Currie) Tom Jeffrey (Watsonians/Jed) and Craig Miller (Ayrshire Bulls/Marr) were all registered with S6 clubs but appeared in the premiership while S6 was still playing. I wasn’t sure if they had left their S6 clubs, or were ‘playing down’.

    • But C Smith was listed on the team sheet Craig Redpath sent us at 9am yesterday morning.

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  2. As far as I am aware, once the player’s contract has ended they can then go and play for whatever team they wish. The only stipulation is that once they have done this the player cannot then play Super 6 rugby for 12 months from the end of his contract. So in Callum Youngs case he could not play Super 6 rugby until the end of October 2022

    • I recently heard that Super Six players could play-down one level. So they can play down to Prem level but not National 1. Thus they can play for a club, but would not be able to play for the club affiliated with the Super 6 team. ie. the Ayrshire Bulls players could potentially play for any Prem club, but couldn’t play for Ayr. Not sure how true this is.

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  3. Callum Young back in Jed team from S6!! I thought there was meant to be a clear distinction between amateur and paid rugby, and no players playing down from S6. Or did I miss some more changes by SRU

    • As far as I am aware, once the player’s contract has ended they can then go and play for whatever team they wish. The only stipulation is that once they have done this the player cannot then play Super 6 rugby for 12 months from the end of his contract. So in Callum Youngs case he could not play Super 6 rugby until the end of October 2022

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