Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 5th March

Edinburgh Accies must break Currie Chieftains' 16 match winning run if they want to finish third in the table

Musselburgh and Aberdeen will be looking to finish their league seasons with a flourish at Rubislaw this weekend. Image: John Durham
Musselburgh and Aberdeen will be looking to finish their league seasons with a flourish at Rubislaw this weekend. Image: John Durham

BY 5pm on Saturday, we will know who is to play who in the semi-finals of the Tennent’s Premiership play-offs at the end of this month.

Currie Chieftains are guaranteed to finish first after the regular campaign ends for most clubs this weekend and Marr are guaranteed to finish second.

As a result, they will have home games in the last four on March 26th, but whether they host Hawick or Edinburgh Accies is still to be decided.


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In the end, first will play fourth and second will play third in three weeks’ time before the final then takes place on April 2nd.

Hawick are in third as it stands but have played their 18 matches so fourth placed Accies – three league points behind – know that if they can beat Currie at Raeburn Place in their final game of the regular campaign on Saturday then they will leapfrog the Borderers.

Meanwhile, Currie will be looking to make it an amazing 17 league wins in a row when they travel across the capital, while Marr’s final regular campaign outing is at seventh placed Jed-Forest.

Elsewhere, ninth placed Selkirk host eighth placed GHA at Philiphaugh and already relegated Aberdeen Grammar will look to finish a disappointing season with a second consecutive home win against sixth placed Musselburgh.

Instead of an entry fee for this Rubislaw match, Grammar are asking those attending to make a donation that will go to The Disasters Emergency Committee Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal.

Should all four games go ahead on Saturday, the final regular season game will be GHA versus Jed on March 12th.

HOW IT STANDS –

THE LOWDOWN –

EDINBURGH ACCIES V CURRIE CHIEFTAINS

Venue: Raeburn Place @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, N Armstrong, M Sinclair; V Hart, J Troup; C Imrie, C Black©, C Lacour, S Whittaker, F Simpson, J Sole, S Hegarty, R Campbell. Subs: F McAslan, A Winnington-Ingram, C Bain, B Grainger, M Wallace.

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; R Daley, J Reynolds, DJ Innes, J McCaig; J Forbes, P Boyer; G Carson, R Stewart, AP McWilliam, H Ferguson, C Roman, G Nelson, F Scott©, R Davies. Subs: S Fisher, E McCallum, W Nelson, C Lessels, F Sayers.

KEY BATTLE: Callum Black versus Ryan Stewart

TEAM NEWS –

Edinburgh Accies: Callum Black returns to captain the side from hooker with Fraser McAslan dropping to the bench. No changes to the starting backline from the game versus Glasgow Hawks.

Currie Chieftains: It’s a settled team with the only change in the backs, Joe Reynolds coming back in at 13 and James McCaig moving out to the wing.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We play the form team in the competition in our last league game of the regular season.  Since losing to Hawick away on the opening weekend they have shown great consistency. Playing Currie is a great challenge and one we look forward to as we continue to develop as a group …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

“After a week off, the squad has trained well this week and we are excited to play at the new Raeburn Place development. Accies have talented players, are well coached and can still finish the regular season in third place, so we know it’s going to be a big challenge …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

VERDICT: This really should be a cracker. Accies have been generally very good at home this term and both squads are relatively unchanged having been able to use last week to shake off any bumps and bruises. Accies can finish third with a win, but Currie will be determined to go into the play-offs with 17 wins on the spin.

Away win.

 

SELKIRK V GHA

Venue: Philiphaugh @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Selkirk: J Hamilton; C Young, B Pickles, R Nixon, A Penman; C Anderson, S Clark; L Pettie, B Riddell, Z Szwagrzak, C Turnbull, Andrew McColm, J Bett, S McClymont, E MacDougall©. Subs: R Cook, M Haldane, D Broatch, Aaron McColm, E McVicker.

GHA: A Scott; B Jouary, C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, S Derrick; A Goudie, S Simpson; M Fox, A Falconer, B Boum, S Callaghan, J McCarthy©, A Kerr, D Ewing, J Bruce. Subs: S Fisher, M Ryan, S Plumridge, G Baird, L Bardelli.

KEY BATTLE: Jack Hamilton versus Adam Scott

TEAM NEWS –

Selkirk: Still a few key players short. James Bett reverts to back-row with Bruce Riddell moving across to hooker. In the backline, Callum Anderson moves into 10 with Scott Clark moving to nine. Jack Hamilton returns from injury to full-back. Aaron McColm is involved on the bench after missing most of the season.

GHA: Only one change in the backline from the Jed-Forest game, Scott Simpson swapping in for George Baird to get his first start of the season at nine. Forwards-wise, Boris Boum and Sean Callaghan earn starts at tighthead prop and in the second-row respectively and Adam Kerr moves into the back-row.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We look forward to welcoming GHA for the last game of what has been an extremely tough season. Training has been good this week and the boys are really looking forward to the game. We’re looking to finish the season on a high and take some momentum into the sevens campaign …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

“It’s always a tough trip down to Selkirk, the last time there for us was a narrow loss which we will be looking to reverse this time around. The boys have trained well over the last couple of weeks and as a squad/club we want to finish the season strongly and take momentum into next season. We don’t underestimate what Selkirk will bring to the table and we will require a controlled and composed performance to win this game …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

VERDICT: GHA defeated Selkirk 34-10 back in October at Braidholm and in recent games the Borderers have been missing a number of regulars. It will be interesting to see how GHA tighthead Boris Boum goes against Selkirk’s experienced loosehead prop Luke Pettie at scrum time, but if GHA can get their game going they could win this one.

Away win.

 

ABERDEEN GRAMMAR V MUSSELBURGH

Venue: Rubislaw @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Aberdeen Grammar: C Hunter; E Sinclair, D Russell©, T Aplin, B Renton; S Knudson, C Shepherd; L Buchan, G Robertson, Y Ahmanache, A Robertson, C Robertson, C Walker, P Mulholland, C Buchan. Subs: A Glen, J Burnett, TBC, A Fitzgerald, A MacFarlane.

Musselburgh: J Ferguson; S Watt, R Watt, M Cimprich, G Tait; D Owenson©, L Kotze; R Hanning, J Crain, C Arthur, W Fleming, J Haynes, C Pryde, J Litster, C Champion. Subs: R Stott, D Hodge, P Brown, T Foley, R Smith.

KEY BATTLE: Yasseen Ahmanache versus Ross Hanning

TEAM NEWS –

Aberdeen Grammar: Yasseen Ahmanache retains his place starting in the front-row after an outstanding display last time out versus Selkirk. With Robertsons  Aaron and Cameron  at four and five, and with Carwyn Walker and Paddy Mulholland in the back-row, the hosts won’t be short of physicality up front.

Musselburgh: Ross Hanning and Jack Haynes come in at loose-head prop and second-row for injured pair Craig Owenson and Gary Neil. James Ferguson starts at full-back for the unavailable Rory Hindhaugh. Tom Foley returns from an injury lay-off on the bench.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Our last game of the season and we are aiming to go out on a high. We run with the classic midfield trio of Sam Knudson, Tom Aplin and Doug Russell whilst Craig Shepherd will put the ball on a plate from nine …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)

“The final game of the league season is upon us and we have a good opportunity to go up to Aberdeen and try and give ourselves a positive finish. We know that Aberdeen have clearly got the bit between their teeth following a good win against Selkirk, so we have impressed upon the players the importance of clearing that journey out the system quickly and not being left chasing the game after 20-25 minutes.  I think the important areas will be around controlling possession and dampening down their attack with a physical defensive effort.  If we can create a platform then I’m confident our attacking threats will be ready to deliver. We’ve picked a strong squad with plenty of experience so we are confident we can go for that win as we look to finish sixth …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

VERDICT: Aberdeen got a great result at home last time out against Selkirk, showing that although they are down there is still plenty of fight left at Rubislaw. Musselburgh certainly won’t have it easy, but they will want to put on a strong performance to mark Graeme Paterson’s last league game as their head coach.

Away win.

 

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JED-FOREST V MARR

Venue: Riverside Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Jed Forest: Forwards from C Skelton, G Law, P Ferreira, T Jeffrey, A Sweenie, D Wardrop, F Scott, G Paxton, T Cromarty, D McNeill, J Hynd. Backs from: G Young©, L Young, R Yourston, N Stingl, K Hayes, L Elder, R Marshall, G Munro, TBC.

Marr: D Steele; J Scott, G Paxton, C Sturgeon©, J Shedden; C Inglis, G Baird; B Sweet, B Jardine, C Miller, D Andrew, J McLean, A Johnston, R Brown, B Johnston. Subs: C McMillan, G Reid, F Grant, N Calder, S Broad.

KEY BATTLE: Gregor Young versus Grant Paxton.

TEAM NEWS –

Jed-Forest: Tom Cromarty comes into the forwards and Robbie Yourston comes into the backs following his return from New Zealand. Team selection will be finalised on Friday night/Saturday morning.

Marr: Callum Inglis returns at stand-off after missing the Hawick game with illness. Colin Sturgeon moves to centre and will captain the side. Grant Baird and Angus Johnston will make their first starts this season at nine and in the back-row respectively.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We are looking forward to Marr coming down to Riverside, after a win against GHA we want to build momentum going into our final league match  also against GHA  next week …” – David Grieve (Jed-Forest)

“After a good home win against Hawick last time out we have a tough away game against Jed. They will be looking to win their last home game of the season and we will have to match the Hawick performance if we wish to leave Jed with a positive result …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

VERDICT: Both teams had good wins over GHA and Hawick respectively the last time out in the league on February 19th. Jed lost at Hawick in the Border League last Friday and have a few players unavailable while Marr will want to head into the play-offs in fine fettle.

Away win.


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About Gary Heatly 238 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.