Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 2nd October

A full schedule of five matches ready to go ahead, with no Covid call-offs at time of publication

Gregor Hunter will look to spearhead Currie Chieftains' attack against Edinburgh Accies at Malleny Park. Image: Fraser Gaffney

WEEK FIVE of the Tennent’s Premiership and two sides who had good results away from home last weekend meet in Troon.

Leaders Marr will start as favourites against eighth placed Jed-Forest, but the latter will have taken confidence from scoring over 50 points at Aberdeen Grammar last time out to give them their first victory of the campaign.

Glasgow Hawks are second and have made a good start to the season and they will travel to Hawick to take on a fifth placed Greens side hurting after losing the Bill McLaren Shield to Edinburgh Accies last weekend.


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Accies have only played three games, but are still third in the table and there is a tasty looking derby for them at Malleny Park against fourth placed Currie Chieftains, who have also played just three games.

Selkirk, in seventh, have only played two games and they will be looking forward to returning to action at ninth placed GHA.

Grammar are the only side without a win as yet and there are easier places to go than Musselburgh’s Stoneyhill when you are looking for a positive result.

HOW IT STANDS –

 

THE LOWDOWN –

MUSSELBURGH V ABERDEEN GRAMMAR

VENUE: Stoneyhill @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, L Brook, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; P Brown, R Gregor, C Arthur, W Fleming, J Haynes, M Outram, J Lister, D Slaven. Subs: A Forbes, N McNairn, C Champion, L Kotze, R Smith.

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

KEY BATTLE: Paul Cunningham versus Sam Knudson

TEAM NEWS –

Musselburgh: Captain Danny Owenson returns at scrum-half with Luhann Kotze reverting to the bench. Hooker Ross Gregor earns a first start of the season with back-rows Max Outram and Declan Slaven promoted from the bench to the starting XV, the latter, at No 8, making his 100th appearance for the 1st XV.

Aberdeen Grammar: Sam Knudson gets the nod at stand-off while up front Carwyn Walker and Scott Renfrew form a new second-row pairing. Patrick Mulholland shifts back to the back-row while Tighearnan McLoughlin is added to the bench.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We simply did not show up in the first half against Hawks last week and that cannot happen again if we want to progress this season. That has been a big part of the message to the players this week and they recognised that themselves and have trained hard. Aberdeen will be desperate to get their first win of the season and we need to be focused and accurate from the start in all areas of the game …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

“It’s a tough league and we need to learn quickly. We gave away too many penalties last week against Jed-Forest …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)

VERDICT: Musselburgh were very disappointed to lose 43-19 at Hawks last weekend and Graeme Paterson will expect a reaction from his players on their home patch. Grammar have had a tough start to the season and it could get even tougher at Stoneyhill.

Home win.

 

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GHA V SELKIRK

VENUE: Braidholm @ 3pm

TEAMS –

GHA: G Mollison; S Derrick; C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, S Carden; J MacKinnon, G Baird; T Brogan, G Hiddleston, M Fox, A Kerr, J McCarthy©, W Alton, W Graham, L McCutcheon. Subs: E Cavan, M Marinkovic, J Bruce, R MacFarlane, R O’Keefe.

Selkirk: J Hamilton; F Anderson, B Pickles, A Grant-Suttie, C Young; C Anderson, S Clark; L Pettie©, J Bett, B Riddell, T Brown, A Cochrane, A McColm, S McClymont, D Nichol. Subs: C Turnbull, J Anderson, M Haldane, R Nixon, C McNeil.

KEY BATTLE: Michael Fox versus Luke Pettie

TEAM NEWS –

GHA: Jamie McKinnon comes into the backs for the unavailable John Crilly and there are a couple of changes in the pack with Gregor Hiddleston coming in at hooker and Will Alton returning to the back-row.

Selkirk: In the pack, young Andrew Cochrane is now in the second-row and Andrew McColm is at six, with Donald Nicol moving to No8. Jack Hamilton and Clark Young get their first start of the season in the backs while three others could feature for the first time in 2021/22 off the bench in the shape of Moray Haldane, Callum Turnbull and Callum McNeil.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We have had a tough three weeks playing probably the best three teams in the league, now we need to kick on from here and start winning games. Training has been good this week and we know exactly what Selkirk will bring. This week we want to build on the things we have been doing well with a disciplined and controlled game for 80 minutes and just iron out our mistakes and lack of concentration at times – we are in a good place …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

“Another missed week last week hasn’t been the ideal preparation and I’m sure GHA are desperate to make amends from the Marr game which they played well in. This will be very hard for us, but the boys are really looking forward to getting out onto the pitch this week and improving on our last performance from Mansfield …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

VERDICT: GHA have had a tough fortnight with losses to Currie Chieftains and Marr without scoring a point. However, Selkirk were inactive last weekend and their season has been very ‘stop-start’ so far. This has all the makings of a very tight contest and you get the feeling GHA want to bounce back from their recent results quickly.

A narrow home win.

CURRIE CHIEFTAINS V EDINBURGH ACCIES

VENUE: Malleny Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

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

Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; H Janes, R Kent, M Wallace, M Sinclair; B Appleson, B Afshar; C Imrie, A Scott, C Taylor, J Mills, S Whittaker, A Inwood, M Walker, R Campbell©. Subs: G Stevenson, J Sole, J Troup, J Loomes.

KEY BATTLE: Wallace Nelson versus Ruairi Campbell

TEAM NEWS –

Currie Chieftains: A settled team again this week, the forwards remain unchanged. Cameron Lessels is available again and he starts at nine.

Edinburgh Accies: Vincent Hart slots back in at full-back, Neil Armstrong drops out through injury and is replaced by Max Wallace at 12, with Mark Sinclair returning to the wing. Struan Whittaker replaces Finlay Simpson in the second-row and Jamie Sole is back in match-day squad on the bench, alongside Jamie Troup who could make his league debut.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“It was disappointing not to play last week, but it’s given the guys a chance to recharge and heal some niggles after a pretty intense six week period. Accies have made a great start to their season and Berti has them playing really well. We are excited to host Accies at Malleny in what is set up to be very challenging encounter …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“Another good home performance last week, but we must back up our home form when we are away. This weekend we go to play one of the most consistent teams at the top end of the premiership for well over a decade and we must respect the challenge Currie will bring to the game …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

VERDICT: Chieftains were left kicking their heels last weekend, but in their last outing a fortnight ago they put GHA to the sword 45-0. They have the most settled squad in the division and although Accies played very well to beat Hawick, the Malleny Park advantage should see the Cheiftains prevail.

Home win.

 

HAWICK V GLASGOW HAWKS

VENUE: Mansfield Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

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

Glasgow Hawks: L Brims©; K Gossman, J Pinkerton, F Gosse, R Joy; J Strain, S Greig; A Rogers, I Carmichael, G Strain, S Halafihi, J McLean, L Stewart, T Brown, L McNamara. Subs: I Totic, M Downer, S Leckey, F Burgess, M Stewart.

KEY BATTLE: Rory Smith versus Sione Halafihi

TEAM NEWS –

Hawick: Logan Gordon-Woolley is back from injury which means he slots in at 13 with Aaron Redpath moving to 12. Kirk Ford is now at stand-off with Bailey Donaldson at full-back. Calum Renwick is back from injury so comes in at seven. Steven Mabon comes onto the bench for his first involvement with the 1st XV this season and Andrew Ford also earns a spot among the replacements after returning from Kelso.

Glasgow Hawks: The only change to last week’s starting pack is Sione Halafihi coming back into the second-row. In the backs, Sandy Greig and James Pinkerton are given an opportunity to start and impress. A multi national bench will look to make an impact with South African Mike Downer and Northern Irish club captain Stephen Leckey returning from injury and illness respectively, plus Serbian Istok Totic looking to make his Hawks debut.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“It was a disappointing result at Raeburn Place last weekend and we have had a great week’s training to put things right at home to Hawks. We know the threat they pose after a big win last week and they will be coming to Mansfield Park full of confidence, but we know what is expected of us at home and we are looking forward to the challenge ahead. The players are ready to get things back on track and make Mansfield a tough place for any team to come …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

“Hawick will be disappointed about last week’s loss to Edinburgh Accies, but will look to maintain their unbeaten record at Mansfield Park this season. We know how difficult they are to beat at home, having done it the last time we played there. We will need to be at our best and play smart mistake free rugby to have a chance. Conditions suggest it will be a battle up front and this will be a real test for our forwards on Hawick’s home turf as it is something they pride themselves on …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

VERDICT: Hawick have won two from two already this term at home. It their away form which has been patchy. As Andy Hill alluded to, the Greens pride themselves on their record at Mansfield Park, but a Hawks team who have won three on the bounce may just have enough firepower to triumph there, especially with Sione Halafihi back in a strengthened bench.

Away win.

 

MARR V JED-FOREST

VENUE: Fullarton Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Marr: G Montgomery; S Bickerstaff, J Shedden, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Inglis, S Broad; B Sweet, C McMillan, W Farquhar, F Grant, H Murray, M Pearce, C Cunningham, B Johnston. Subs: S Adair, G Reid, C Millar, D Andrew, I Turaga.

Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young©, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, H Meadows, A Sweenie, B Howe, Garry Young. B McNeil, D Buckley. Subs: TBC, P Ferreira, E Lauder, D Wardrop, A Bambrick.

KEY BATTLE: Greg Montgomery versus Lewis Young

TEAM NEWS –

Marr: Jack Scott returns to the wing and Iosefo Turaga drops to the bench. Colin Sturgeon is injured so Callum Inglis will start at stand-off and Greg Montgomery comes in at full-back. In the pack, Blair Jardine is injured so Curran McMillan will start at hooker, and the front-row rotation policy continues with Brandon Sweet starting at loose-head and Gordon Reid dropping to the bench.

Jed-Forest: Harry Meadows, Finlay Campbell and Dom Buckley return from injury up front, Nik Stingl starts at nine in a settled backline.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“After a good away win last week against GHA, we face a tough home game against Jed-Forest. They had a good away win at Aberdeen last week and will be looking to looking to get another one at Fullarton on Saturday. Our games against Jed are normally entertaining, high scoring matches, they have a back-line that are dangerous and can score from any position on the pitch. Their pack has also been going well, so we know we need to be at our best to win the game. After last week, we have worked hard in training to improve on a few areas we did not perform well in. As usual the players are looking forward to playing at home in front of our supporters …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“It is always a tough game at Marr, but after a win at Aberdeen last week we look forward to the match …” – Scott Tomlinson (Jed-Forest)

VERDICT: Jed got off the mark in some style away to Aberdeen last week and have some key forwards back for this one, but a trip to Fullarton is more daunting than a trip to Rubislaw. Although Marr won at GHA last time out, they were not delighted with their performance and will aim to click into gear this week.

Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 235 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.