WEEK four of the Tennent’s Premiership 2021-22 season and, despite the weather getting colder, things are heating up.
Glasgow Hawks became the first team to win an away match in the division last time out when they defeated Jed-Forest and now they will look to carry that form at home to Musselburgh who have started the season well.
Second placed Marr are on the road to GHA, but leaders Currie Chieftains saw their trip to Philiphaugh postponed due to Covid at lunchtime on Friday.
There is a big game at the bottom where 10th placed Aberdeen Grammar host ninth placed Jed-Forest, they are the only two winless sides in the league to date.
And Edinburgh Accies host Hawick in what should be a pretty open affair with the latter defending the Bill McLaren Shield.
HOW IT STANDS –
THE LOWDOWN –
GLASGOW HAWKS V MUSSELBURGH
VENUE: Balgray @ 3pm
Glasgow Hawks: L Brims©; K Gossman, T Glendinning, F Gosse, R Joy; J Strain, F Burgess; A Rogers, I Carmichael, G Strain, A Syme, J McLean, L Stewart, T Brown, L McNamara. Subs: E Rintoul, M Ogunlaja, S Greig, J Pinkerton, J Thompson.
Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, J Ferguson, R Watt©, G Tait; P Cunningham, L Kotze; P Brown, A Forbes, C Arthur, W Fleming, J Haynes, R Stott, J Crain, J Lister. Subs: D Hodge, D Slaven, M Outram, A Reddick, T Foley.
KEY BATTLE: Joe Strain versus Paul Cunningham
TEAM NEWS –
Glasgow Hawks: In the forwards, Ali Rogers comes in to make his first start of the season and Iain Carmichael in at hooker for Paul Cairncross who is out with concussion. Jack McLean replaces talisman Sione Halafihi as he is unavailable. Thomas Glendinning moves from wing to centre to accommodate veteran Kerr Gossman who had a good outing in the second XV last week.
Musselburgh: A number of changes from last week due to picking up injuries versus Edinburgh Accies. Paddy Brown and Andy Forbes start in the front-row with Bob Stott and Jonny Crain filling the back-row spaces. James Ferguson starts at 13 after recovering from a hand injury and captain Danny Owenson is absent due to his delayed wedding plans so Luhann Kotze starts again at scrum-half.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“Musselburgh are usually described as a stuffy team but having reviewed them Graeme has got them playing an exciting brand of rugby while maintaining a hard edge up front. Musselburgh beat us three times in 2019-20 so we are well aware of the challenge that faces us on the weekend and look forward to welcoming them to Balgray …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
“Last week’s great win against Accies needs to be backed up with a similar performance against a Hawks side that are no doubt full of confidence following their back-to-back victories. We have a few changes, but confidence is there to challenge the guys coming in to replicate the performance from last week. We know it will be tough against Hawks and will have to show resilience and accuracy if we are to take the points …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)
VERDICT: Both sides had good wins last weekend and have started the season in decent form. Hawks will miss Sione Halafihi in the pack, but Musselburgh are missing some key forwards and captain Danny Owenson, and that could just tip the balance in Hawks favour.
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GHA V MARR
VENUE: Braidholm @ 3pm
GHA: G Mollison; A Scott; C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, S Derrick; J Crilly, G Baird; T Brogan, E Cavan, M Fox, A Kerr, J McCarthy©, W Alton, W Graham, L McCutcheon. Subs: G Hiddleston, M Marinkovic, R Hay, S Simpson, R O’Keefe.
Marr: C Inglis; S Bickerstaff, J Shedden, C Bickerstaff©, I Turaga; C Sturgeon, S Broad; G Reid, B Jardine, W Farquhar, F Grant, H Murray, C Cunningham, M Pearce, B Johnston. Subs: S Adair, B Sweet, R Brown, S McDonald, G Montgomery.
KEY BATTLE: Charlie Lonergan versus Jamie Shedden
TEAM NEWS –
GHA: In the backs, John Crilly returns after illness at stand-off with Scott Derrick getting his first start of the season on the wing. Adam Kerr comes back from injury into the second-row with Luke McCutcheon starting at No8. Ross Hay comes into the squad for the first time this season.
Marr: There are a few changes from last week as Robert Brown, Stephen Adair, Greg Montgomery, Colin Sturgeon and Fraser Grant return to the squad. In the pack, Grant starts in the second-row and William Farqhuar starts at tighthead prop. Callum Inglis moves to full-back for the unavailable Jack Scott.
Colin Sturgeon has recovered from injury to start at 10. Adair, Brown and Montgomery come onto the bench.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“It is a case of dusting ourselves down and getting back on the horse after last week’s disappointing result against Currie. We have been focusing this week on some key ‘work-ons’ for this fixture against Marr. We know exactly what Marr will bring, the squad are relishing the challenge and looking to get our season back on track …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)
“After a good win last week against Aberdeen Grammar we are looking forward to this tough away game against GHA. They always raise their game when they play Marr. They are a well-coached and an organised side who play with a lot energy and make you work for every point. They have a talented back line that can cause teams a lot of problems. The results this year show how hard it is to win away from home, so we will need to be at our best to win at Braidholm on Saturday …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)
VERDICT: GHA were not happy about the way they performed at Currie last time out and they played well in patches in the home win against Hawick the week before to get a win, but Marr played well last week and will likely be too strong if they hit their straps early on here.
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR V JED-FOREST
VENUE: Rubislaw @ 3pm
Aberdeen Grammar: R Cameron; N Brown, D Russell, T Aplin©, C Shepherd; A Addy, T Morrison; C Reddish, L Buchan, M Schosser, P Mulholland, N Coe©, M Emmison, C Buchan, G Ryan. Subs: G Robertson, J Robertson, S Renfrew, P Ritchie, S Ryan.
Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young©, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, A Bambrick; T Jeffrey, A Stewart, P Ferreira, A Sweenie, B Howie, B McNeil, K Grieve, Garry Young. Subs: G Paxton, D Hunter, E Lauder, G Williams, N Stingl.
KEY BATTLE: Nathan Brown versus Robbie Shirra-Gibb
TEAM NEWS –
Aberdeen Grammar: The hosts have a few faces returning to the squad with Greig Ryan resuming at No.8 and brother Sam taking a spot on the bench after returning to the club this week. Nathan Brown comes in for his first start of the season on the wing.
Jed-Forest: Aiden Bambrick starting at nine is the only change to a settled back line. Aiden Stewart comes in at hooker, Andrew Sweenie makes his debut in the second-row with David Hunter. Elliot Lauder comes onto the bench after a good showing for the ‘A’ team last week, Gareth Williams is also added to the replacements.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“We are looking to bounce back from a disappointing result at Marr last week. It’s been a solid week of training with a big focus on the defensive side of the game. We have had some really close battles with Jed over the years, and I’m sure Saturday will be exactly the same. We know they are a good team with excellent runners in their back division and a well drilled forward unit. We need to raise our performance level and go for the full 80 minutes this week if we’re going to be competitive …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)
“It is always a tough game at Aberdeen, both teams will be eager to get a win after poor starts to the season …” – Scott Tomlinson (Jed-Forest)
VERDICT: The only two sides without a win yet this term meet and something will have to give. With Greig Ryan back at No8 and Nathan Brown returning on the wing for Grammar it feels like they might just have enough to get over the line on their home turf.
EDINBURGH ACCIES V HAWICK
VENUE: Raeburn Place @ 3pm
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, n Armstrong, L Manieson; R Mill, B Afshar; C Imrie, A Scott, C Taylor, J Mills, F Simpson, A Inwood, M Taylor, R Campbell©. Subs: G Stevenson, C Lacour, C Bain, B Grainger, R Wilson.
Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, A Redpath, Glen Welsh, R McKean; B Donaldson, D Lightfoot; T Hope, M Carryer©, R Macleod, R Smith, S Fairbairn, S Farizzel, S Graham, J Linton. Subs: N Little, C Tait, R Linton, Gareth Welsh, Kyle Brunton.
KEY BATTLE: Ben Afshar versus Deaglan Lightfoot
TEAM NEWS –
Edinburgh Accies: With seven players from last week unavailable as well as various positional changes it brings an opportunity to test the squad depth. Ruari Campbell takes over the captaincy with Ben Afshar, Angus Scott, Jake Mills and Angus Inwood making first starts of the season.
Hawick: Callum Renwick misses out due to a head knock and is replaced in the back-row by Sam Frizzel. Deaglan Lightfoot gets the nod at nine after a few strong performances off the bench and Glen Welsh gets a Premiership debut at 12.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“We look forward to welcoming Hawick to Raeburn Place and writing some wrongs from last week’s defeat to Musselburgh. The players have worked hard to continue to develop our game this week and are excited to get out on the field and take on the challenge that Hawick will bring …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
“It was a very positive result last week against Selkirk, we had chances in the game to put it to bed, but credit to Selkirk, they capitalised on our mistakes and stayed in the fight and we did well to get the win. We know how strong a team Accies are and they will be looking to get back to winning ways. They will start the match as favourites for many, but it’s now up to us as a squad to turn our away form around and put a performance together that sees us being competitive for 80 minutes. Away form will be massive this season and we need to kick start that on Saturday …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)
VERDICT: Accies had a great result at home to Jed a fortnight ago, but could not back it up on the road at Musselburgh and they have been forced into sweeping changes for this one. They will look to skipper Ruairi Campbell and stand-off Richard Mill to run things.
Hawick have two wins from three, but having, according to Matty Douglas, “not got off the bus” in the first half of loss to GHA on September 11, they will have to start better here.
The Greens may just have enough to take this one.