Tennent’s Premiership preview – runners, riders and verdict for 6th November

League-leaders Currie Chieftains host third in the table Hawick, second placed Marr visit fourth placed Glasgow Hawks and there's a Border derby at Philiphaugh

Wallace Nelson carrying the ball against Hawick the last time the two sides met in January 2020. Image: Fraser Gaffney
Wallace Nelson carrying the ball against Hawick the last time the two sides met in January 2020. Image: Fraser Gaffney

THE second half of the Tennent’s Premiership gets underway on Saturday and the two matches that really jump out of the fixture list are top of the table Currie Chieftains against third placed Hawick and fourth placed Glasgow Hawks versus second placed Marr.

Currie have been unstoppable at home to date this term and saw off Musselburgh 61-0 at Malleny Park last week, but Hawick too are in a good run of form and they defeated previous leaders Marr last time out. They also saw off the Chieftains at Mansfield Park in week one in early September, so this one should be one of the match-ups of the season.


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Meanwhile, Hawks were edged out by top four rivals Edinburgh Accies in a high scoring affair last week and will want to show a better version of themselves than the one that lost 33-7 away to Marr on September 4th.

Seventh plays eighth at Philiphaugh and there is Border pride at stake as well as important league points when Selkirk face Jed-Forest.

Two frustrated sides will meet at Braidholm as ninth placed GHA, inactive since October 16th, host sixth placed Musselburgh, who are smarting from their thumping by Currie.

Jed, Hawick, GHA and Hawks have lost at Raeburn Place so far this term and fifth placed Edinburgh Accies will be looking to add bottom side Aberdeen Grammar to that list.

A victory for the hosts would be their third defence of the Bill McLaren Shield and leave them with one home to go in order to get their name engraved on the trophy.

HOW IT STANDS –

THE LOWDOWN –

GHA V MUSSELBURGH

VENUE: Braidholm @ 2pm

TEAMS –

GHA: R O’Keefe; S Carden, C Lonergan, A Stirrat, S Derrick; A Goudie, G Baird; T Brogan, G Hiddleston, M Fox, J Campbell, J McCarthy©, A Kerr, S Plumridge, J Bruce. Subs: L Barron, E Cavan, M Marinkovic, C Armstrong, C Hyde.

Musselburgh: R Hindhaugh; J Ferguson, R Watt, F Thomson, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; C Lamberton, R Gregor, D Hodge, J Haynes, W Fleming, D Slaven, M Crawford, L Hutson. Subs: C Owenson, C Arthur, P Brown, L Kotze, S Watt.

KEY BATTLE: Andrew Goudie versus Paul Cunningham

TEAM NEWS –

GHA: Andrew Goudie starts at 10 after his time with Stirling County in Super6 with Charlie Lonergan and Scott Derrick also returning to the backline. In the forwards, Edinburgh Rugby Academy player Jamie Campbell is in the second-row, with Scott Plumridge getting his first start of the season at seven.

Musselburgh: Paul Cunningham returns at 10 having played well for the seconds last week and James Ferguson also joins the backline. Finlay Thomson starts at 12 having done well on debut off the bench last week. Second-row William Fleming and back-rows Declan Slaven and Luke Hutson are back to bolster the pack, with experienced forwards also added to the bench.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“It’s not been ideal having two weeks off, but we have used the time to build on our structure and game plan, and the boys are looking forward to getting back out there, especially at Braidholm in front the the GHA crowd. Musselburgh will be hurting after last weekend’s result. This is an important game for both of us, but we are confident we have the squad to get our season back on track with a disciplined performance …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

“This is always a tough one to call as both sides like to go out there and play and throw the ball around, so it could come down to which side defends better. We were obviously disappointed by last week’s loss at Currie, but we know this is a chance to get a precious away win and kick-start our season. To do that we have to take our chances. GHA have not played for a couple of weeks so we will see if we can take advantage of that lay-off. Games are often won up front, but I think this one could see a few chances for the backs …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

VERDICT: GHA will just be desperate to get playing again after two weeks of inactivity, and having Andrew Goudie back at 10 after a Super6 stint will definitely help them. Young Jamie Campbell was a top performer for Biggar in 2019-20 and is one to watch out for. William Fleming’s presence will help Musselburgh and, as Graeme Paterson says, there could be a few points here.

If GHA can shake off any rustiness they should just have enough to record a home win after an entertaining clash.

 

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SELKIRK V JED-FOREST

VENUE: Philiphaugh @ 3pm

TEAMS –

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

Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young©, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; R Nichol, G Munro; G Paxton, F Campbell, P Ferreira, D Wardrop, G Law, B Roff, C Cowan, B McNeill. Subs: F Scott, T Jeffrey, E Lauder, J Howe, M Russell.

KEY BATTLE: Luke Pettie versus Paulo Ferreira

TEAM NEWS –

Selkirk: Changes in the backline see Callum Anderson move back to his more familiar position of 10 with Keiran Clark taking over at 15 and Josh Welsh coming in on the wing. The pack remains unchanged. Robbie Reilly could make his first appearance of the season off the bench, while Andrew Grant-Suttie is also a replacement after an injury lay-off.

Jed-Forest: Harry Meadows and Clark Skeldon drop out of the pack through injury, so Paulo Ferreira starts at tight-head prop and Dan Wardrop moves to the second-row, with Craig Cowan coming in at open-side. In the backs, Gary Munro starts at nine with Mason Cullen returning on the wing. A strong bench features Finlay Scott, who played Super6 for Boroughmuir Bears earlier this season, Thomas Jeffrey returning after injury and Edinburgh Rugby Academy player Matt Russell.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“After a great result last week, we’re looking to build some momentum, we know it’s going to be tough but we’ve prepared well and had a good week’s training and are looking forward to Saturday …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)

“Another tough game in the Premiership, both sides looking for much needed points to ease their league positions …” – Scott Tomlinson (Jed-Forest)

VERDICT: Borders derbies are always hard to call and this one is no different. Both sides have had ‘stop-start’ seasons for various reasons and have struggled to build momentum. Selkirk’s squad is starting to look a lot more settled now, while Jed lost to Hawick and Currie Chieftains before being inactive last week.

Selkirk should be able to add to last week’s win over Aberdeen Gramma  home win.

EDINBURGH ACCIES V ABERDEEN GRAMMAR

VENUE: Raeburn Place @ 2pm

TEAMS –

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, W Stephen, R Lile; J Loomes, B Grainger; C Imrie, F McAslan, R Montgomery, J Mills, F Simpson, J Sole, M Walker, R Campbell©. Subs: S Gunn, C Black, C Bain, J Troup, V Hart.

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

KEY BATTLE: Ben Appleson versus Cammy Scott

TEAM NEWS –

Edinburgh Accies: Robbie Kent returns in the centre after representing Samurai Sevens last weekend and will partner Will Stephen, in for the injured Neil Armstrong. Ben Grainger comes in at scrum-half and Ross Lile earns a first start on the wing after impressing for the seconds. Fraser McAslan is at hooker with Matt Walker starting in the back-row for the unavailable Callum Reid. Shaun Gunn – the Southern Knight who is part of the Super6 Premiership player pool  Cameron Bain and Jamie Troup come onto the bench.

Aberdeen Grammar: The bottom side are boosted by the availability of tighthead prop George Breese, a Scotland under-20 cap who has Super6 experience with Stirling County and is part of the draft, as well Edinburgh Rugby Academy back Cameron Scott who starts at 15.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We welcome Aberdeen to Raeburn Place this weekend, a team who beat us twice during season 2019-20 who we will not be taking lightly. Another opportunity to defend the Bill McLaren Shield and get one step closer to getting the club’s name on it …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

“Last week was a bit of a disappointment in terms of the result. There were some positives in performance, but ultimately the scoreboard looked ugly in the end. This week we welcome Cameron Scott coming in at full-back and George Breese takes a starting role in the front-row. We’ve been so impressed with both players making the trip up to training this week, which has given the squad a huge boost, and morale is really good going into the Edinburgh Accies game …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)

VERDICT: Accies have been in fine form at Raeburn Place this term and will be looking to stay on the coat-tails the top four with another triumph here. They have a strong bench to use in the second half and while there is no doubt that George Breese and Cameron Scott will help Grammar’s cause, it is hard to see past a home victory.

 

CURRIE CHIEFTAINS V HAWICK

VENUE: Malleny Park @ 2.30pm

TEAMS –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Gray, R Southern, D Innes, J McCaig; G Hunter, P Boyer; G Carson, R Stewart, G Scougall, R Davies, H Ferguson, G Nelson, F Scott©, W Nelson. Subs: S Fisher, C Ramsay, S Edwards, F Sayers, A Hall.

Hawick: B Donaldson; M Tait, L Gordon-Woolley, A Mitchell, R McKean; K Ford, G Welsh; S Muir, M Carryer©, R Macleod, R Brown, S Fairbairn, C Renwick, S Graham, J Linton. Subs: R Graham, D Gamble, R Smith, C Sutherland, B Evans.

KEY BATTLE: Rhys Davies versus Rudi Brown

TEAM NEWS –

Currie Chieftains: Cairn Ramsay is available this week and will look to make an impact off the bench in the forwards. Cammy Gray starts on the wing and Fraser Sayer joins the squad after strong performances in the A team.

Hawick: Shawn Muir starts at loosehead prop for the first time since his injury against Currie on the opening day, after two recent run outs off the bench. Edinburgh Rugby Academy teenager Rudi Brown starts in the second-row after doing well off the bench versus Marr. Ross Graham has returned to the club from a stint with Watsonians in the Premiership and Super6, and is added to the bench along with Edinburgh Rugby Academy prop Dan Gamble and Rory Smith.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We are excited to host Hawick at Malleny this weekend. Hawick have been getting stronger as the season has progressed and they beat us at the start of the league campaign, so it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s one we are ready for and I am really pleased with how the guys have been playing in recent weeks …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“After a great win last weekend against Marr there is a lot of confidence and excitement for our trip to Malleny Park this weekend. Another week of playing the leaders of the Premiership which is a massive task and a challenge that this group of players are looking forward to. It’s a very hard place to get any sort of result and we know that we will need to be at the top of our game. We look forward to the challenge that faces us and I’m sure it will be a cracker of a game …” – Matty Douglas (Hawick)

VERDICT: With both teams in a great run of form, a large crowd will likely be at Malleny to see first versus third. Currie’s squad has a very settled look to it while Hawick head coach Matty Douglas now has positive selection headaches rather than the rather duller oones which he faced earlier in the season with the squad having been bolstered by the return of Ross Graham and the addition of a trio of Edinburgh Rugby Academy players.

Like most rugby games, this one will be won and lost up front, and it could go right to the wire with Currie’s burning desire to keep their solid home record intact just helping them shade it.

Home win.

 

GLASGOW HAWKS V MARR

VENUE: Balgray @ 2pm

TEAMS –

Glasgow Hawks: H Lee; H Hughes, B McGroarty, M Stewart, T Glendinning; L Brims©, F Burgess; M Downer, P Cairncross©, G Strain, S Halafihi, J McLean, A Syme, I Carmichael, L McNamara. Subs: I Totic, A Rogers, J Porter, J Strain, J Pinkerton.

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

KEY BATTLE: Paul Cairncross versus Curran McMillan.

TEAM NEWS –

Glasgow Hawks: In the pack, Paul Cairncross returns to the starting No2 shirt and will captain the side. Sione Halafihi returns after injury and is in the second-row, with Iain Carmichael picking up the starting seven jersey after Tim Brown sustained a concussion versus Edinburgh Accies. Finlay Burgess starts at nine and injuries to Ronan Joy and Fraser Gosse during the week sees Harry Hughes and Thomas Glendinning come straight back into the starting XV from injury lay-offs.

Marr: Colin Sturgeon returns at stand-off, Callum Inglis moves to full-back with Greg Montgomery dropping to the bench. Gordon Reid has joined Wasps in the English Premiership, so Brandon Sweet starts at loose-head prop and Glasgow Warriors Academy player Jamie Drummond comes into the back-row after impressing off the bench last week.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“At the halfway stage we are in the top four although we know Accies have the potential to move above us [with their game in hand] after last week’s poor performance. This week will be a good measure of how far we have come after a disappointing opening day loss versus Marr. Other than Marr, we have only lost by a couple of points to the teams above us. However, the next stage in our development as a squad is to be on the right side of one of these results to prove we deserve to be in that top four come the end of the season …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

“Another tough away game against Glasgow Hawks after the defeat at Hawick last week. We have worked hard in training this week to reduce the number of mistakes we are making, and [find] ways to ensure we take the scoring opportunities we are creating. Hawks have a good home record and are a well organised side. We will have to match them physically and work hard to get a positive result and bounce back from last week. Gordon Reid has joined Wasps in the English Premiership and we wish him well …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

VERDICT: Both teams are licking their wounds after losses on the road last week, but they will not need any extra motivation going into this one. Paul Cairncross will look to lead by example for Hawks after being given the captain’s armband, while Marr will look for control from their half-back pairing of Roan Frostwick and Colin Sturgeon.

A narrow away 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.

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