WHICH teams will find luck hard to come by in matchday 13 of the 2022-23 Premiership season on Saturday?
Well, bottom club Musselburgh could certainly do with a bit of good fortune going their way after they gave leaders Hawick a real scare last weekend, but only came away with a losing bonus point. That has left them eight points adrift of safety with six regular season matches left. On Saturday they are heading to Philiphaugh to face fourth placed Selkirk.
Jed-Forest are second bottom in the table after double derby defeats to Selkirk in the last fortnight and this time around they are on the road to fifth placed Glasgow Hawks.
After a double defeat of their own of late to Marr, Heriot’s Blues are just one point above Jed and are eighth. Like Musselburgh and Jed, they too are on the road as they make the trip across Edinburgh to take on second placed Currie Chieftains. The Malleny men will be hurting after a last gasp loss to Edinburgh Accies last time out.
This time around Accies, in third, are making the trip to unbeaten leaders Hawick in what is almost certainly game of the day. As mentioned, Hawick were pushed hard by ‘Burgh before coming through that one and they’ll know they have to play better this time around.
Finally, resurgent Marr, in sixth, are looking for a fourth win on the spin with seventh placed GHA the visitors to Fullarton Park. Last week there were four away wins from five, but this week it looks like home advantage could count for a lot.
It is also the last weekend of Super6 Premiership player pool players being available this season, while there is also a Scotland under-20 warm-up game this weekend versus Edinburgh Rugby ‘A’ which has taken some players out of Premiership action.
How it stands –
The Lowdown –
Currie Chieftains v Heriot’s Blues
Venue: Malleny Park @ 2pm
Currie Chieftains: G Cannie; I Sim, R Southern, A Hall, R Daley; S Leto, G Christie; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, J O’Brien, E Stewart, K Steel, J Duncan, M Vernel©. Subs: A Steel, J Ramsay, J Donaghue, P Boyer, C Meager.
Heriot’s Blues: I Kay; N Henry, P Christie, R Kay©, C Robertson; R Carmichael, G Wilson; J Lascelles, D Dineen, S Cessford, S Johnstone, L Gordon, A Johnston, I Hill, C Anderson. Subs: M Toward, B Dineen, M Keough, R Thomson, G Kirkpatrick.
Key battle: Iain Sim versus Craig Robertson.
Team news –
Currie Chieftains: A settled front five in the forwards with two changes in the back-row where Kyle Steel and Jack Duncan come in for Gregor Nelson and Rhys Davies respectively. There are a few more changes behind the scrum with Sam Leto, Ryan Southern, Ryan Daley and Greg Cannie replacing Christian Townsend, James McCaig, Kody McGovern and Charlie Brett. Paddy Boyer is back and named on the bench. Mike Vernel is captain.
Heriot’s Blues: Skipper Robert Kay and Noah Henry return in the back division and John Lascelles comes in for Martin Bouab at loose-head prop.
What the coaches say –
“A very frustrating end to last week’s game which we should have put away with three unconverted 22 entries when nine points up. There are a few changes to the team this week, but quality throughout and the guys are excited to be back at Malleny. Heriot’s have made great strides forward this season and have added experienced players to their squad. When they get on the front foot they keep the ball alive well and are hard to stop, so we will need to be at our best defensively this weekend …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains
“We continue to be frustrated by our second half performances as we once again produced some good stuff in the first half last week, only for it to be undone by another 20 minute lull. The lead into Christmas is going to be tough, so we need to dust ourselves down and simply keep working hard. Currie at Malleny is tough at any time and on the back of last week’s defeat we will undoubtedly be facing a team desperate to get back on track to finish in top spot. Our message will be simple, play for 80 minutes …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s Blues)
Verdict: Both teams are coming off losses last week and will want to put that right. Currie, particularly in the backline, have had to make a number of changes while Heriot’s look pretty settled and have experience throughout. The new starters in the Currie side will have to settle quickly, but if they can they should have enough to get the victory.
Glasgow Hawks v Jed-Forest
Venue: Balgray @ 2pm
Glasgow Hawks: A McLean; E Muirhead, J Pinkerton, S Graham, R Darroch; G Cruickshanks, E Davey; I Carmichael, I Totic, L Alessandri, S Leckey©, O Baird, L Stewart, S Hastings, R Sweeney. Subs: M Downer, E Cairns, J Porter, C Elliot, H Lapslie.
Jed-Forest: C Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young©, R Yourston, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Scott, P Ferreira, A Sweenie, M Atkinson, Garry Young, B McNeil, B Fotheringham. Subs: T Cromarty, J Hynd, D Wardrop, O Cranston, L Elder.
Key battle: Andy McLean versus Callum Young.
Team news –
Glasgow Hawks: A few changes in the pack. Gary Strain has his sister’s wedding so is unavailable which sees tight-head props Luca Alessandri (Boroughmuir Bears Super6) and Eben Cairns come into the squad to make their debuts. Seb Hastings comes into the back-row after a few injuries last week, as does Lewis Stewart after impressing off the bench. Jake Porter will cover the back five of the scrum. In the backs, Sam Graham is moved to 12 to get him more involved in the game with Calum Ferrie being injured. Euan Muirhead come onto the wing and Andy McLean is released by the Academy to play, so comes in at full-back.
Jed-Forest: With Clark Skeldon out, Gregor Young is captain while his brother Callum comes in at full-back. Andrew Sweenie and Matthew Atkinson form a new-look second-row pairing and Ben Fotheringham comes in at No 8.
What the coaches say –
“From watching Jed’s game versus Selkirk last week, there was not much between both teams. They have got a lot of lads back fit in the last few weeks and are only going to get better as the season goes on if they manage to stay injury free. We were pleased with the bounce back versus GHA, but we have to look to build on this and start to string a set of results together if we have ambitions of moving up the table …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
“This will be a tough test, but it’s a game we must target to get some points. We have contested well over the last few games against three of the top four, but haven’t been clinical enough to get over the line. We will have to match their pack to get a foot hold in the game …” – Andrew Brown (Jed-Forest)
Verdict: Hawks got an important away win at GHA last week, but are still searching for consistency to keep up with the top four. These are the kind of games they must win to keep play-off hopes burning bright and it will be a test of character. Jed have lost their last four and, although playing well in spells, need to get some positive results before Christmas. But they may just be edged out here.
Hawick v Edinburgh Accies
(for the Bill McLaren Shield)
Venue: Mansfield Park @ 2pm
Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, A Mitchell, E Reilly, R McKean; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, D Redpath, D Suddon, C Sutherland, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: R Graham, T Hope, S Graham, H Patterson, B Donaldson.
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; F Lindsay, M Wallace, N Armstrong, L Wells; J Loomes©, S Broad; C Imrie, F McAslan, C Lacour, C Bain, S Whittaker, J Mills, T Drennan, R Campbell. Subs: M McGinley, H Campbell, R Thompson, M Love, K Gossman.
Key battle: Calum Renwick versus Tom Drennan.
Team news –
Hawick: Fraser Renwick, Dalton Redpath and fit-again No 8 Jae Linton come into the starting pack. With Matty Carryer not involved, Shawn Muir captains. The backline is unchanged with Bailey Donaldson added to the bench.
Edinburgh Accies: Ben Appleson and Sinjin Broad come in at full-back and scrum-half respectively, otherwise the backs remain unchanged from the end of last week’s game. The front five of the scrum remains unchanged with Jake Mills starting at blindside and Tom Drennan moving to openside. Richard Thompson, Max Love and Kerr Gossman return to the bench after injury and unavailability.
What the coaches say –
“This weekend we face another big challenge at home to Edinburgh Accies. They will be full of confidence after a big win at home to Currie, so our big aim this week is to build into an 80 minute performance. Last week we weren’t at our best, but the players are keen to fix the little things we got wrong and what better way than in a first versus third match at Mansfield Park. Competition for places is greater than ever with a few quality players missing out on selection this week. This is a ‘must win’ for us and we will have to be at our best to get a result come Saturday night …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)
“Hawick have shown great consistency in performance and selection since we last met in September. Matty and his coaches have really got the team firing. I was immensely proud of the effort and attitude shown by our players last week and we will need to be even better this week to come away from Mansfield Park with a win. What a great challenge! …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
Verdict: What a match in prospect. Hawick did not meet their usual high standards last week while Accies produced their best performance of the season, bouncing back from the previous week’s defeat at Malleny to beat the Chieftains at Raeburn. Having Jae Linton back for Hawick is a big boost while Accies will need their reconfigured back-row to have a good day. A tight one with Hawick, on home turf, just doing enough.
Marr v GHA
Venue: Fullarton Park @ 2pm
Marr: C Inglis; J Jacobson, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Sturgeon©, G Baird; G Reid, B Jardine, C Miller, D Andrew, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, C Folan, B Johnston. Subs: C McMillan, A Acton, C Young, G Beckwith, N Calder.
GHA: C King; L Bardelli, K Dixon, M MacFarlane, F Johnston; G Drummond, G Baird; E Cavan, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, K Watt, J Bruce, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: O Bowden, A Barnett, J McEntegart, R MacFarlane, C Stephen.
Key battle: Grant Baird versus George Baird.
Team news –
Marr: Grant Baird, Ben Johnston, Andrew Acton and Nairn Calder all return to the matchday squad. Greg Montgomery and Matt O’Sullivan are injured and Ali Rogers is with the Scotland under-20 squad.
GHA: There is one change in the pack this week with Jack Bruce returning at blindside after a period out through injury. In the backline, there a few changes following injuries picked up in a physical match last weekend. In the back three, Cameron King switches to full-back, with Fergus Johnston starting on the wing. Kyle Dixon returns at outside centre and Gregor Drummond starts at 10. The experienced Rory MacFarlane earns a place on the bench where he is joined by talented Academy trio Oliver Bowden, Jamie McEntegart and Callum Stephen.
What the coaches say –
“After a good second half performance against Heriot’s we have a tough home game against GHA. They always raise their intensity and level when they play Marr. Calum Forrester will have prepared GHA well and we expect a fast, open, physical game. This week we have trained well and focused on reducing our errors and we aim to continue to improve on last week’s performance …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)
“We had a number of missed opportunities against Hawks last weekend that the players have worked hard ato rectify in training this week. Marr have quality throughout the squad and have returned to good form in recent weeks. We know that we will have to be at our best in order to get the result we desire this weekend …” – Calum Forrester (GHA)
Verdict: Are we starting to see the real Marr returning? Three wins on the spin since a loss at Musselburgh would suggest so, but to keep their top four push going they know they need a win here. GHA will need key forwards Kieran Watt and Dario Ewing, the skipper, to lead by example if they are to get a win on the road here. If Marr can build on recent weeks they should be too strong.
Selkirk v Musselburgh
Venue: Philiphaugh @ 3pm
Selkirk: C Anderson; L Ferguson, B Pickles, J Welsh, R Cottrell; Aaron McColm©, J Hamilton; K Thomson, J Bett, B Riddell, J Head, Andrew McColm, R Anderson, S McClymont, M Job. Subs: L Pettie, C Turnbull, A Cochrane, E McVicar, C Easson.
Musselburgh: R Young; J Ferguson, K McGhie, R Watt, S Watt; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; C Owenson, F Duraj, N McNairn, M Badenhorst, W Fleming, P Bogie, M Outram, C Champion. Subs: R Stott, R Hanning, J Haynes, F Call, T Foley.
Key battle: James Head versus Michael Badenhorst.
Team news –
Selkirk: Zenon Szwagrzak, Allan Ferrie, Craig Jackson and Ross Nixon are all unavailable, but James Head and Josh Welsh return. Bruce Riddell moves from hooker to tight-head prop and Kieran Thomson gets his first start of the season at loose-head. The backline is slightly reshuffled from last week and Cammy Easson and Callum Turnbull moving up to the bench from the seconds.
Musselburgh: A couple of tweaks to the pack to account for Fin Duraj, who has performed well off the bench in recent weeks, coming in at hooker and Callum Champion returning to the starting team in place of Jamie Campbell who is playing for Edinburgh Rugby ‘A’ this weekend. Behind the scrum, centre Kyle McGhie is the only change to the backline with Fin Thomson being unavailable through illness. Ross Hanning, Jak Haynes and Tom Foley all return to the squad taking their places on the bench.
What the coaches say –
“After last week’s game against Hawick, Musselburgh can take a huge amount of confidence and we realise that they will fight right to the end of the season, which won’t make Saturday easy. We know we’ve got to be disciplined and look after ball better than we have been to keep pushing on. We’re looking to being more consistent over 80 minutes and put in a good performance at home …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)
“We are excited to go and play at Philiphaugh with the mood at training this week having been pretty buoyant. Whilst you might assume that the pressure of where we are in the league will cast a dark cloud over Stoneyhill, our desire to improve and take this down to the wire overshadows any sense of gloom or doubt. Selkirk are a team who continue to be on the up and we have worked hard to close the gap in terms of competitiveness since we last faced each other in the first half of the season. We know that an away win or two is now a must and we are motivated by the challenge of doing so given we haven’t notched up an away win in the league since February 29th 2020. I look forward to seeing the boys having a crack at that challenge …” – Derek O’Riordan (Musselburgh)
Verdict: There is no doubt that Musselburgh are improving and the likes of Michael Badenhorst and Paul Bogie from Super6 have helped with that. Having run Hawick close they will feel that they can go to Selkirk and get their second win of the season, but you feel that with Hawks and now Marr breathing down their necks in the hunt for top four spots, Selkirk may up the ante here. It will be tight though.