Tennent’s Premiership: Round 2 preview – runners, riders and verdict

Ayr, Currie Chieftains, Heriot's, Melrose and Watsonians look to make it two out of two

Ayr Currie Chieftains
It is bound to be lively at Millbrae this weekend when Ayr host Currie Chieftains ***Image: David Gibson - www.fotosportuk.photoshelter.com***

FOUR of the five teams which won their opening round matches in this Tennent’s Premiership season face up against each other this week, with top of the table Heriot’s hosting Edinburgh rivals Watsonians at Goldenacre, and Ayr clashing with Currie Chieftains at Millbrae. The other pace-setters are Melrose, who host a Glasgow Hawks outfit desperate to generate some momentum after a heavy defeat to Heriot’s last week.

Meanwhile, both Boroughmuir and Hawick will battle to get their season up and running when they meet at Meggetland, as will Stiring County and Edinburgh Accies in their Bridgehaugh encounter.

HOW IT STANDS –

THE LOWDOWN –

HERIOT’S v WATSONIANS

VENUE: Goldenacre @ 3.00pm

TEAMS –

Heriot’s: C Simpson; J Blain, R Jones, R Kay, C Robertson; D Martin, A Simmers; M Bouab, M Liness, S Cessford, C Jupp, A Sinclair, R Leishman, I Wilson©, J Hill. Subs: A Johnstone, J Scott, F Munro, A Ball, D Steele.

Watsonians: J Rowland; R Steele, A Guthrie, L Millar, S McLeod; E Fox, A Harris; N Borel, R Graham, J Stanley, J Hodgson, C Borthwick©, G Nelson, C Boyle, J Miller. Subs: F Renwick, F Hobbis, F Simpson, N Fowles, P Cunningham.

TEAM NEWS –

Heriot’s: Callum Marshall, Struan Dewar and Rory Carmichael drop out from the team which dismantled Glasgow Hawks last week. Dom Martin is given the opportunity to stake a claim for the number 10 jersey and Charlie Jupp makes his Premiership debut in the second-row. Former Boroughmuir and Marr utility back Dougie Steele comes into the squad for the first time as a replacement.

Watsonians: Centres DJ Innes and Rory Hutton have been unable to shake off knocks from last week’s game and drop out, prompting a reshuffle of the backline which includes Lee Millar swapping the number ten for the number 12 jersey. Scrum-half Nathan Fowles is released by Edinburgh and will start on the bench. Last year’s Scotland Under-18 player Paul Cunningham is also among the replacements.

KEY BATTLE: Martin Bouab versus Jack Stanley

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Last weekend had many positives, the main one being the way the boys responded to our long injury list. However, we need to move on quickly and be ready for another bruising encounter against our staunchest rivals. Watsonians have continued last season’s strong display in the league with a very good win last weekend. Having had a good hit-out in pre-season against each other we now turn to the real thing. Both sets of players, I am sure, will be vying for the city’s bragging rights at 1stand 2ndteam level. The club will be buzzing with three home games and a big lunch …” – Phil Smith (Heriot’s)

“It was good to get the win last week against an excellent Stirling side who came to play an expansive brand of rugby. We identified a few areas that needed to be tweaked and have been working hard to address these. Heriots this week and the derby factor has definitely added a little spice to training. They showed their class last week in a comprehensive victory over Hawks, in which their pack flexed its muscles and their backs ran in some scintillating tries. We know the level of focus and application that will be required if we are to put in a worthy performance …” – Stevie Lawrie (Watsonians)

VERDICT: Watsonians looked in pretty reasonable nick against Stirling last week, but losing both centres (DJ Innes and Rory Hutton) is a serious blow. On their last visit to Goldenacre they put Heriots to the sword big style (46-17)  but Heriots have found their mojo and their cogent forward power could well carry the day.

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MELROSE v GLASGOW HAWKS

VENUE: The Greenyards@ 3.00pm

TEAMS –

Melrose: F Thomson; B Colvine, P Anderson, C Jackson©, M Mvelase-Julyan; S Hutchison, M McAndrew; G Shiels, B McLean, R McLeod, J Head, A Runciman, I Moody, R Darge, M Bradbury. Subs: C Young, C Crookshank, R Knott, G Runciman G Wood.

Glasgow Hawks: G Faulds; J McReady, E Oag, C Symes, J Couper;M New, P Boyer; G  Strain, G Stewart, L Skinner, C Thomson, A Kirkland, A Fraser, S Leckey©, G Adams. Subs: A Fraser, S Findlay, S Dow, K Kay, M Godsman.

TEAM NEWS –

Melrose: Edinburgh Rugby star Magnus Bradbury starts at number 8 after returning from injury. Bruce Colvine starts on the wing and youngster Struan Hutchison is at stand-off after impressing during pre-season, with Craig Jackson reverting to centre in place of George Taylor – who is back at Edinburgh.

Glasgow Hawks: Matt Smith is serving a one week ban after last week’s sending-off, and his fellow Warriors pros Lelia Masaga and Bruce Flockhart were withdrawn from the team on Thursday morning with shoulder injuries. Liam Brims is unavailable due to injury, so Mark New moves to 10, and club captain Stephen Leckey returns at openside flanker. Teenager Murray Godsman will hope to make his debut off the bench after an impressive performance for Hamilton as part of Hawks’ duel registration programme with surrounding clubs.

KEY BATTLE: Rory Darge versus Stephen Leckey

WHAT THE COACH SAYS –

“After an improved performance last weekend, it is important we keep focussed against a Hawks squad that have the capability to score from all areas of the pitch …” – Rob Chrystie (Melrose)

“This is our second outing against a Super 6 outfit and it is a great opportunity to bounce back and prove that we are better than the performance we put in at the weekend. For 40-50 minutes we competed very well against a supremely physical and experienced Heriot’s side, we now have to make sure that we are able to keep that up for the full 80 to give a proper account of our abilities. We have had a really good week together and we have moved into our new training base at Craigholme, which is the final move we will make this year. It is always one of the best away days of the year heading down to Melrose and it will be a great experience for this young squad to play at the Greenyards …” – Finn Gillies (Glasgow Hawks)

VERDICT: Melrose were hardly firing on all cylinders against Hawick last week  but it is still likely to be a question of damage limitation for Hawks.

 

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AYR v CURRIE CHIEFTAINS

VENUE: Millbrae @ 3.00pm

TEAMS –

Ayr: G Anderson; R Nairn, P Kelly, D McCluskey©, K Rowe; F Climo, D Armstrong, R Sayce, R Smith, S Longwell, D Corbenici, M Sykes, T Spinks, G Henry, B Macpherson. Subs: A MGuire, E McLaren, A Davidson, A Rademaker, R Hughes.

Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; B Robbins, J Reynolds, R Nelson©, S Hamilton; G Hunter, C Shiel; R Patterson, G Carson, F Watt, S Ainslie, M Vernel, R Davies, T Gordon, S McGinley. Subs: C Wilson, A McWilliam, M Kelly, R Frostwick, A Hall.

TEAM NEWS –

Ayr: Three changes in the backs, with Glasgow Warriors pros Robbie Nairn and Paddy Kelly making their first starts of the season, and Frazier Climo coming in at 10. One change in the pack with Gregor Henry coming in at seven. Two more Warriors in Rory Hughes and Andrew Davidson are on the bench.

Currie Chieftains: An unchanged backline. In the pack, Greg Peterson and Luke Crosbie are with their respective pro sides and Fergus Scott misses out through injury, so Graeme Carson moves to hooker where he played most of the match last week, Stephen Ainslie starts in the second-row and Rhys Davies returns from injury to play blindside flanker. Campbell Wilson and Irishman Marc Kelly come into the squad as replacements.

KEY BATTLE: Danny McCluskey versus Robbie Nelson

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“With it being Ladies Day at the club it should make for a great atmosphere. We were happy with the five points last week against an Accies team which showed a lot of resilience. We will have to raise our performance level this week against a Chieftains team who have been consistently at the top end of the table for a number of years, and who had a good win last weekend. The players will be determined to put in a good performance in front of our home support and look forward to the challenge that Saturday will bring …” – Peter Murchie (Ayr)

“We were pleased with the result [against Boroughmuir] last weekend but a little disappointed with the amount of errors we made. This week provides the perfect opportunity to play with more freedom and without the same expectations that possibly hampered our game last time out. Ayr at Millbrae is one of the toughest fixtures in the calendar. They had a good start to the season away from home against an eager Accies side determined to start with a bang. Pete and his team have built a well-rounded squad with their traditional muscle up front and some really exciting backs behind. They will be boosted by their pro release although I am sure they have had some selection dilemmas on how best to fit them all in. There’s sure to be a great buzz at Millbrae on Saturday with it being their first home match and around 340 women in attendance for their annual ladies’ day. Both teams are filled full of talent so it’s all set up to be a great advert for club rugby …” – Ben Cairns (Currie Chieftains)  

VERDICT: Ayr were not totally convincing against Edinburgh Accies last week, but the pro draft has been kind to them – and Fraser Climo is a veritable game changer.  It is a huge ask for the Chieftains – but an angry man is a dangerous man –  and with the rub of the green they could maybe just about steal it – and, in doing so, spirit the Bill McLaren Shield back to Malleny.

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STIRLING COUNTY v EDINBURGH ACCIES

VENUE: Bridgehaugh @ 3.00pm

TEAMS –

Stirling County: C Robertson; E Macgarvie, B Thomson, G Hughes, R Tagive; A Goudie, P Jericevich; R Chies, R Kennedy©, A Nicol, J Pow, C Henderson, G Arnott, S MacDonald, H Burr. Subs: B Gilchrist, M Walker, R Bundy, C Keys, J Hope.

Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; C Gray, G Spencer, N Armstrong, C Ramm; R Mill, R Davis; R Sutherland, C Black, J Pearse, R Seydak, M Badenhorst, J Sole©, R Campbell, L Seydak. Subs: N Hall, C Lacour, A Inwood, M Love, J Loomes.

TEAM NEWS –

Stirling County: Craig Robertson comes in at 15 for club captain Jonny Hope, who moves to the bench, Cammy Henderson makes his first start at lock for the injured Stef Yarrow, and Glasgow pros Brandon Thompson and Adam Nicol both start after coming off the bench last week.

Edinburgh Accies: Same starting fifteen as last week, while Angus Inwood comes onto the bench for Sean Hagerty.

KEY BATTLE: Brandon Thomson versus George Spencer

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“We were disappointed not to pick up full points last week away from home as we missed several gilt-edged opportunities to take the game away from a strong Watsonians side. We must be more clinical this week against a well organised and committed Accies team, who ran Ayr close last week. Great to be back on league business at Bridgehaugh, it should be a cracker of a game with two sides committed to playing high tempo rugby …” – Eddie Pollock (Stirling County)

“The nervousness we showed in the first 30 minutes was understandable given that it was a new experience for so many of our players, but we learned that we can live at this level so that can’t be an excuse on Saturday. We’re going there to win. No pressure – pressure is for tyres and bouncy castles …” –Derek O’Riordan (Edinburgh Accies)

VERDICT: Stirling will be determined that there should be no repeat of last week’s disappointing result at Myreside when they kept shooting themselves in the foot, and had to settle for a losing bonus point. After a dodgy start, Accies did enough against Ayr to suggest that they can compete entertainingly with anybody in the league. Difficult to call. Last season, when they met in the cup quarter final at Bridgehaugh, it took an injury time try from Remy Chies to see Stirling through, and it could be that close again – with home advantage and their greater experience maybe swinging it Stirling’s way.

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BOROUGHMUIR v HAWICK

VENUE: Meggetland @ 3.00pm

TEAMS –

Boroughmuir: R Arthur; K Gossman, W Wardlaw, G Cannie, J Edmunds; T Wilson, J Hamilton; D Marfo, J Matthews, S Berghan, T Drennan, S Smith, S Nayalo, M Walker, R Drummond. Subs: R Dunbar, D Robertson, C Keddie, J Steele, R Kerr.

Hawick: A Weir; K Young, F Robson, G Walker, A Roberts; L Armstrong, G Huggan; M Carryer, C Renwick, R MacLeod, D Suddon, K McNeil, D Redpath, S Graham, B McNeil. Subs: T Hope, A Grieve, J Linton, D Buckley, L Gordon-Wooley.

TEAM NEWS –

Boroughmuir: DarrylMarfo, Simon Berghan and Senitiki Nayalo are all released by Edinburgh and start in a powerful looking pack. With a couple of injuries in the backs Rory Arthur and Tom Wilson come in at full-back and stand-off respectively, while Greg Cannie switches to 12.

Hawick: Pietro Ceccarelli travels with Edinburgh this week so Ruaridh MacLeod comes into the starting line-up at tight-head prop and Tom Hope joins the bench and can expect to get his first taste of Premiership rugby. Lee Armstrong returns to the team after an injury lay-off, and Daniel Suddon and Greg Walker are also added to the starting team after impressive performances off the bench last week.

KEY BATTLE: Rory Drummond versus Bruce McNeil

WHAT THE COACH SAYS – 

“Both teams will be looking to bounce back after losing last week. We were really disappointed in how we played after such a positive pre-season and have worked hard this week to rectify this…” – Peter Wright (Boroughmuir)

“Meggetland is never an easy place to go and Boroughmuir have three pros in their pack this week which will definitely assist their cause. I am sure Peter will have them up for this game after suffering defeat last week. Although we had a heavy defeat on paper we showed in parts of the game that we can compete with any team when we switch on. I will be looking for the lads to build on that this week…” – George Graham (Hawick)

VERDICT: Three pros and home advantage must make Boroughmuir favourites, but this is one Hawick will be thinking that they could win  assuming, of course, they have figured out how to plug the gaps in their midfield defence.

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About David Barnes 4028 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

1 Comment

  1. Just a quick look through the teams and I notice a heavy pro representation in next years super six teams but very few in the rest! Perhaps that’s a myopic view from the West?!

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