Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 30th October

Time for teams to do their talking on the pitch after a week of confusion surrounding the Super6 player draft

Hawick host Marr in a tantalising clash at Mansfield Park. Image: Kenny Baillie
Hawick host Marr in a tantalising clash at Mansfield Park. Image: Kenny Baillie

MYSTERY continues to shroud the process by which selected Super6 players will be made available to Premiership clubs for the seven rounds of matches scheduled before Christmas.

Each club in the league has been allocated three or four players but a full list of who is in the ‘FOSROC Super6 Premiership Player Pool’ has not been released, so nobody is entirely sure who has what.

We do know that Scottish Rugby contracted Academy players and/or those who may represent Scotland under-20 at international age-grade level in the coming season are in there, as well as Super6 contracted players who have been identified by their head coaches as not having had sufficient game time during the recent campaign.


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Also, some players who picked up long-term injuries during the Super6 season, and those who replaced them, will be eligible for Premiership duties over the next seven weeks but not as part of the draft.

And just to make things even more complicated, there are also some players like Andrew Mitchell of Hawick and Callum Marshall of Selkirk, who both appeared last week in the Premiership having decided to step away from the Super6. They are free to play where they choose, but a lack of clarity over who is in and out of contract means this adds to the general sense of confusion.

Hopefully, things will become a little clearer as the season progresses, and all of this backroom negotiation doesn’t detract from what has been an entertaining and intriguing Premiership campaign so far.

The big game this weekend is at Mansfield Park where third placed Hawick take on leaders Marr, while GHA versus Jed-Forest is off due to Covid concerns at the Borders club. Three of the four matches kick-off at 12.30pm, while the Edinburgh Accies versus Glasgow Hawks match is at 2pm.

HOW IT STANDS –

THE LOWDOWN –

CURRIE CHIEFTAINS V MUSSELBURGH

VENUE: Malleny Park @ 12.30pm

TEAMS –

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

Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; S Watt, L Brook, R Watt, G Tait; M McMillan, D Owenson©; C Owenson, R Gregor, C Lamberton, J Haynes, K Watt, C Pryde, M Crawford, J Lister. Subs: D Hodge, D Slaven, L Hutson, L Kotze, F Thomson.

KEY BATTLE: Graeme Carson versus Cole Lamberton

TEAM NEWS –

Currie Chieftains: Sean Fisher starts at hooker after strong performances for the A team in recent weeks. Steven Hamilton is back at the club through the draft after starting every game  for Stirling County during the Super6 season.Joe Reynolds also returns on the bench after providing Watsonians Rugby with Super6 injury cover.

Musselburgh: Matthew McMillan and Lucas Brook move up from the bench to start at 10 and 13 respectively. Premiership player pool duo Cole Lamberton and Kieran Watt start at tighthead prop and second-row respectively, with hooker Ross Gregor and back-row Cameron Pryde also coming in. Young back Finlay Thomson could debut off the bench.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“It’s another big day at Malleny with both the firsts and As facing strong Musselburgh teams. We were pleased with how we played last week against Jed and we have trained well this week. The last time we played against each other it was a very close-run thing and it proved to be our last game before the pandemic. We admire how Musselburgh have grown their playing numbers and kept a core group of players together for a number of years. They have a good mix of exciting youngsters and older heads, so we expect a challenging game …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“Last week we were second best against Hawick and allowed them to dictate territory and possession for long spells. The plus point to take from the game, over and above the try bonus point, was that we dragged ourselves back into things twice so we know we can challenge teams. Our main thing this week is to get a solid defensive display in place to limit Currie’s chances. We have been working on the simple things in training like line speed and individual tackle situations. There are a few changes to our team, but maybe that is what is needed at this stage of the season to shake things up … – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

VERDICT: The availability of Cole Lamberton and Kieran Watt strengthens Musselburgh’s pack and the team showed in patches against Hawick last week that they are dangerous in attack when given the chance. Currie have scored 73 points in their last two matches and with Steven Hamilton adding to their fire-power it should be another good day for the men from Malleny.

Home win.

 

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SELKIRK V ABERDEEN GRAMMAR

VENUE: Philiphaugh @ 12.30pm

TEAMS –

Selkirk: C Anderson; K Clark, B Pickles, R Nixon, C McNeil; S Clark, J Hamilton; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, C Marshall, T Brown, R Cook, S McClymont, E MacDougall©. Subs: P Forrest, J Anderson, A Renwick, J Welsh, A Bulman.

Aberdeen Grammar: C Shepherd; N Brown, S Ryan, T Aplin©, D Russell; S Knudson, A Addy; C Reddish, G Robertson, M Schosser, S Renfrew, T Morris, C Walker, B Inglis, C Buchan. Subs: L Buchan, G Ryan, P Mulholland, P Ritchie, R Cameron.

KEY BATTLE: Kieran Clark versus Doug Russell

TEAM NEWS –

Selkirk: With backs Ben Pickles, Ross Nixon and Josh Welsh all returning from injury and Kieran Clark from the Southern Knights available as part of the Premiership player pool, Ewan McDougall reverts back to his more familiar role of No 8 having filled in at centre last time out. In the pack, hooker James Bett also returns from injury, while Andrew Renwick is back after time away from the game and will look to make an impact off the bench.

Aberdeen Grammar: A slight reshuffle in the back division sees Craig Shepherd moving to full-back and Doug Russell moving out one place to the wing. Sam Ryan starts at 13 and will look to ignite the attack. In the second-row, Tom Morris makes his league debut for the club having joined from Aberdeen University.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We know how big a week it is for the club and for our season. Having a number of backs returning in such a big game week is great. We know Aberdeen can be dangerous as we found out at home last time around. We can’t take anything for granted as they will be targeting a win given the situation both teams are in. It’s important we take the momentum we created in the second half last week against Hawks into the very first minute on Saturday …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

“There is no denying it, Selkirk is a massive game for us, and probably both sides given our league positions, to be fair. Preparations  as always, it seems  have not been ideal with the weather impacting on training and a number of players still not fit to return from injury. That said, we are very pleased with the squad for the weekend and we are hopeful that our work over the last two weeks with no game will see some improvements to our performance …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)

VERDICT: Just one win between these teams in 12 games so far this season sees them sitting second bottom and bottom of the pile, but both squads have not been helped by Covid concerns and long injury lists at times. Selkirk’s backline looks a lot stronger than it has in previous weeks while Grammar have not played since October 16th when they were beaten comfortably by Currie.

Both teams will scrap until the last minute, but Selkirk should have enough firepower to get the desired result.

Home win.

 

EDINBURGH ACCIES V GLASGOW HAWKS

VENUE: Raeburn Place @ 2pm

TEAMS –

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, V Hart, N Armstrong, M Sinclair; J Loomes, B Afshar; C Imrie, C Black©, R Montgomery, J Mills, C Reid, J Sole, R Campbell. Subs: C Lacour, F McAslan, M Walker, B Grainger, W Stephen.

Glasgow Hawks: H Lee; R Flett, 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, I Carmichael, F Burgess, M Stewart.

KEY BATTLE: Callum Reid versus Lewis Stewart

TEAM NEWS –

Edinburgh Accies: Vincent Hart, Jamie Loomes, Ryan Montgomery, Callum Reid, and Jamie Sole come back into the starting team, with Clement Lacour, Matt Walker and Ben Grainger coming onto the bench.

Glasgow Hawks: Two changes from the team that beat Selkirk last week, with winger Ryan Flett coming in for his debut after suffering an injury during pre-season, and full-back Hamu Lee also returning after sustaining an injury in the second game of the season. Iain Carmichael returns to the matchday squad on the bench after some impressive performances for the second XV.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Glasgow Hawks are certainly one of the form teams in the Premiership.We were disappointed with how finished the game last week against Marr so have worked hard on our game this week …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

“The final game of the front nine and it comes against a team we are battling with to get into the top four. We have yet to step up to the mark in these clashes and, with Accies having a game in hand, we have to win to be able to say we are a top four team at the halfway stage. Accies, like ourselves, have been able to rebuild over lockdown and they have recruited well. We have to embrace the physicality and intensity they will bring and rise to the challenge …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

VERDICT: This is a very tough one to call. Accies have been brilliant at home so far this season, but are coming off the back of a bruising encounter at Marr last week. Hawks have been excellent in the last two weeks and have bounced back from a home defeat to Currie on October 9th.

Accies have some key personnel back while Hawks are fairly settled, especially in the pack. The back-row battle of Callum Reid, Jamie Sole and Ruairi Campbell versus Lewis Stewart, Tim Brown and Lewis McNamara looks set to be a mouth-watering one.

A very tight home win.

 

HAWICK V MARR

VENUE: Mansfield Park @ 12.30pm

TEAMS –

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: C Tait, S Muir, C Tait, R Brown, Glen Welsh, B Evans.

Marr: G Montgomery; J Shedden, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Inglis, R Frostwick; G Reid, C McMillan, W Farquhar, D Andrew, H Murray, R Jackson, M Pearce, F Grant. Subs: J Drummond, C Miller, B Sweet, K McCulloch, I Turaga.

KEY BATTLE: Calum Renwick versus Rory Jackson

TEAM NEWS –

Hawick: An unchanged starting XV – for the first time this season – from the one that won on the road at Stoneyhill last week. Hawick welcome Scottish Rugby contracted Academy players Rudi Brown and Ben Evans onto the bench through the player pool system, which gives Steven Mabon and Kyle Brunton the opportunity to get 80 minutes each with the Force.

Marr: A few changes with Gordon Reid starting at loosehead prop and Brandon Sweet dropping to the bench. Harry Murray moves to the second-row, with Scottish Rugby contracted Academy player Rory Jackson in the back-row, and Mackenzie Pearce starting at seven for the unavailable Robert Brown. Jack Scott moves back onto the wing, with Scottish Rugby contracted Academy player Roan Frostwick starting at scrum half.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Arguably our toughest game of the season this weekend. Marr are top of the league for a reason, they are a very tough side to play against and to get a result against, but as a side we have improved massively since our opening day win against Currie. We need to focus on putting in an 80 minute performance to be on the right side of a result. These are the games you want to play in if you ask any player and our squad will be ready for the challenge on Saturday at Mansfield Park …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

“After a good home win and improved performance against Edinburgh Accies last week, we have an early start for the game at Hawick with a 12.30pm kick off. Hawick have an excellent record at home and are playing well. We expect a physical game from their strong pack and must be aware of the threat of their backs, especially Andrew Mitchell who made a big impact against Musselburgh. We have trained well and know we will have to produce our best performance of the season to leave Mansfield with a positive result …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

VERDICT: Like the game at Raeburn Place, a very tricky one to call. Top of the table Marr make the long journey to the Borders having won their last six matches, while Hawick have won four in a row to sit third. Having Andrew Mitchell back last week make an instant impact on the way that Hawick attack, while Marr will want to mark captain Conor Bickerstaff’s 200th appearance with a win.

The Greens are looking to make it five unbeaten at home this term and on Ladies Day at Mansfield they might just dog this one out, though it certainly won’t be for the faint hearted!

Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 207 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.

9 Comments

  1. Fair play to Gary Heatly who correctly predicted all the games. I am not in favour of the S6 players coming in to a now fairly settled set up to demotivate some of the clubs stalwart players. Is this just to f—k up what is currently an interesting and exciting contest attracting better crowds than S6?

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  2. MisterC 🤐🤐🤐🤐🤐
    Those Jack in the Boxes….they just won’t stY in their box 🤗

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    • They lost. Currie are way better than Hawick who let’s face it, have been rather lucky in recent weeks. Marr will overcome Hawick and put them back in their box

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      • Mister C .
        Never write off any Hawick team .
        Comments like yours usually comes back to haunt you .
        They must have left their credentionals at home .
        Great performance from Hawick today

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      • You must have forgotten that Hawick have already beaten a full strength Currie at Mansfield with a very young team .
        As Walter says things you say sometimes come back to haunt you.

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  3. Controversial one, tipping Hawick to beat Marr. Marr are my tip for the title and they will show their credentials by winning at Hawick.

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    • As per last week, C Smith was on the squad list we were provided, must be someone getting their Millers and Smiths mixed up – all the best to Craig for tomorrow

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