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

Aberdeen Grammar and Glasgow Hawks clash at Rubislaw. Image: Anna Burns
Aberdeen Grammar and Glasgow Hawks clash at Rubislaw. Image: Anna Burns

AN intriguing clash at Rubislaw sees Glasgow Hawks aim to bounce back from a disappointing performance and result last week, when they take on an Aberdeen Grammar side who will be riding a wave of confidence after an important win on the road against Edinburgh Accies in their most recent outing.

Hawks are not helped by the unavailability of captain Stephen Leckey, who is being made to take a mandatory seven day break because last weekend’s match referee suspected concussion, this is despite the match doctor and the club’s own SCAT5 testing have cleared the back-rower to play.

It will be equally interesting at Newfield where Edinburgh Accies host Jed-Forest. Both sides will feel that they have shown their potential only in flashes so far this season, which has left them languishing near the foot of the league, but the middle section of the table is still very tight so both sides will recognise that their seasons could go one of two very different directions – a relegation dog-fight to a play-off shoot-out – depending on how the next few weeks pan out.

Meanwhile, Hawick take their recent run of good form back on the road with a trip to Braidholm to take on a GHA side who came up well short when the two sides met at Mansfield in round two, but who have shown that they can be handful on their own patch.

Top takes on bottom when Marr head to Stoneyhill to take on a Musselburgh side which has struggled for wins but have resolutely refused to become whipping boys this season, while Currie Chieftains will look to keep the pressure on by picking up a positive result at Philiphaugh.

Hamish Watson’s Edinburgh return a timely boost for clash against second-string Munster

Jonny Gray returns to the fray for Glasgow Warriors

Cartha QP teenager Luca Alessandri takes tight-head switch in his stride

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Marr RFC16141157125231910169
Currie Chieftains17134055826729113267
Hawick RFC1612314502472039160
Selkirk RFC18972392375176349
GHA RFC186120361539-1786434
Glasgow Hawks175120337425-885732
Edinburgh Acc164102332408-765227



Venue: Rubislaw @ 2pm


Aberdeen Grammar: S Mills; M Sommerville, M Mitchell, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson©, T Morrison; C Reddish, A Cook, T Ryan, J Robertson, R Cessford,  B Inglis, W Alton, N Coe. Subs: D Wallen, A Robertson, C Robertson, J Troup, F Snedden.

Glasgow Hawks: J Strain; K Gossman, E Oag, C Harrison©, M Priestly; L Brims, H Bullock; G Strain, T McTeir, E Rintoul, A Kirkland, L Archer, R Jackson, F Christie, R Sweeney. Subs: P Cairncross, D Irvine M Stewart, Y Alagilly,  N Moffat.


Aberdeen Grammar: Tom Ryan comes in at tight-head for Matthias Schosser, who picked up a nasty ankle injury in last week’s win over Edinburgh Accies, while Jordan Robertson joins Robin Cessford in the second-row so that Will Alton can move to open-side flanker. The only change in the backline sees Mungo Sommerville replac Craig Shepherd on the wing.

Glasgow Hawks: Joe Strain comes in for his first start of the season at full-back, Callum Harrison returns and will captain the side from 12, while Harvey Bullock comes in to make his debut at scrum-half for the injured Paddy Boyer. Tom McTeir is at hooker after impressing in training, with Paul Cairncross providing cover from the bench after getting over his recent injury woes.  Blindside flanker Rory Jackson will hope to replicate his form against Edinburgh Accies a couple of weeks ago.

KEY BATTLE: Robin Cessford versus Andy Kirkland


“Hawks have been on a decent run of form despite their result at the weekend. They’re going to bring a physical brand of rugby to Rubislaw and we all have to defend accurately and aggressively to cope with that …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)

“Aberdeen got a convincing win last week against Edinburgh Accies and looked desperate for the win. Last week the players questioned themselves after in the huddle if Selkirk wanted it more than them. This week they must front up to the task and look to bring an intensity that will match our opposition …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

VERDICT: Vital match for both clubs in terms of the play-offs. It felt as though Hawks had turned a corner with their bonus point win against Accies a fortnight ago, but it just did not go their way against Selkirk last week, and they travel up to Rubislaw without  captain Steven Leckey, who has fallen foul of the concussion protocol, and the also injured Paddy Boyer.

An important result for Aberdeen away to Accies last week, but Matthias Schosser’s ankle injury is a blow, and their leading try-scorer Nathan Brown is still not back from injury – yet home advantage should shade it their way.

Narrow home win.

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The Thornwood bar is delighted to support Glasgow Hawks


Venue: Braidholm @ 2pm


GHA: G Mollison; J Edgar, C Lonergan, A Hughes, A Purewal; J MacKinnon, A Gillman; T Brogan, D Ewing, M Fox, A Kerr, J McCarthy©, A Marinkovic, E Hardie, L McCutcheon. Subs: K Chernick, S Carson, S Callaghan, G Baird, J Anderson.

Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, W Griebenow, A Mitchell, L Gordon-Woolley; A Weir, G Welsh; S Muir©, C Renwick, D Johnstone, A Piotrowski, D Suddon, J Linton, S Graham, B McNeil. Subs: M Carryer, R Toogood, C Bachurzewski, M Renwick, B Donaldson.


GHA: Dario Ewing starts at hooker and Adam Kerr moves to second-row, in the place of Hamish Clarke and Adam Barnett, respectively, who are both unavailable this week. Elliott Hardie gets his first start of the season at open-side and Aaron Purewal returns on the wing.

Hawick: Calum Renwick swaps in at hooker for Matty Carryer, Adam Piotrowski and Craig Bachurzewski return from international duty with the former replacing the injured Sean Fairbairn in the boiler-house and the latter replacing Ruaridh Macleod on the bench. Youngsters Murray Renwick and Bailey Donaldson are also added to the squad.

KEY BATTLE: Charlie Lonergan versus Wiaan Griebenow


“We are taking one game at time and looking to continue improving in the way we want to play and putting teams under pressure. It all starts with our work-rate and effort for 80 minutes which we have seen in the last two games but not had much reward. Hawick will be another huge challenge for us that we are all looking forward too …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

“GHA have undoubtedly been improving as the season has gone on and are adapting to life in the Premiership. We have won our last three games and we are definitely playing more as a team but we need to stay in the game for the full 80 minutes and ensure that we do not become complacent if we get in front. If we want to make the play-offs this is a must win …” – George Graham (Hawick)

VERDICT:  A couple light in the front five and bouncing back from their mauling at Malleny last week is a big ask for GHA – but they are never short of endeavour on their home patch – and will presumably take a much more direct approach than they did against Currie.

Sean Fairbairn has been an important factor in Hawick’s recent good form and he will be missed – but they are going well – strong all over the park – and should have enough to consolidate their challenge for a play-off spot.

Away win.

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Supporting Hawick RFC’s coverage on The Offside Line


Venue: Newfield @ 2pm


Edinburgh Accies: R Wilson; J Paterson, R Campbell, N Armstrong, M Campbell; R Mill, M Sinclair; S Gunn, S Crombie, C Lamberton, P O’Sullivan, C Bain, C Thomson, J Sole©, J Bruce. Subs: R Simpson, D Anderson, D Dinnen, C Bain, M Love, R Bonner.

Jed-Forest: L Young; J Laing, Gregor Young©, R Yourston, R Marshall;  G Munro, N Stingl; T Jeffrey, F Scott, P Ferreira, D Tjombie, G Law, B Sexton, Garry Young, D Grieve. Subs: G Paxton, A Keeler, J Hynd, J McGough, M Chisholm.


Edinburgh Accies: Richard Mill swaps in for Ruairidh Bonner at stand-off and Matt Campbell comes onto the wing, with Robert Wilson switching to full-back in place of Will Stephen. Shaun Gunn is released by the Southern Knights Super6 franchise to play loose-head, while Cameron Bain and Chris Thomson come into a reshuffled back five of the scrum.

Jed-Forest: Tom Jeffrey shifts across the front-row to loose-head and Grant Paxton drops to the bench to accommodate the return of Paulo Ferreira at tight-head. Finlay Scott is back in his regular position of hooker after covering the back-row against Marr, meaning teenager Finlay Campbell drops out despite showing up well last week. Garry Young returns to the second-row after his last minute illness last week and Donald Grieve is at No 8 . No Callum Young on the wing means a reshuffle of the back-line, which includes Gary Munro shifting into stand-off.

KEY BATTLE: Jamie Sole versus Garry Young


“Looking forward to another home game against Jed which hopefully conditions will allow both teams to play some expansive rugby …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

“We played some very good rugby last week when Marr would allow us to and saw enough to convince me that if we can get a bit more ball we can hurt teams. However, our injuries, particularly up front, are hurting us …” – Fraser Harkness (Jed-Forest assistant)

VERDICT: This really could go either way. Jed do look more balanced up front – but it is a question of how much ball they can pilfer – and whether they can avoid picking up yellow cards in the process. Anything above starvation rations and their razor sharp young backs will give them a chance.

Shaun Gunn should tighten up Accies’ set-piece in their second ‘home’ game of the season – and they will look to the experienced Richard Mill at stand-off to sharpen up their game management.

Narrow home win.


Venue: Stoneyhill @ 2pm


Musselburgh: J Doig; S Watt, R Smith, P Cunningham, G Tait; F Roddick, D Owenson; C Owenson, J Crain, C Arthur, W Fleming, J Haynes, C Pryde, M Outram, M Maltman©. Subs: T Ralls, E Bonthron, N McNairn, G McKinstry, R Watt.

Marr: G Montgomery; J Scott, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, R Dalgleish; C Sturgeon, J Preston; W Farquhar, O Rossi, B Sweet, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant. Subs: A Muir, C Henderson, C Cunningham, K Diffenthal, G Ness.


Musselburgh: The same back line as last week and a slight reshuffle of the pack due to Paddy Brown’s unavailability, with Jack Haynes coming in to the second-row, Cameron Pryde moving to blindside and skipper Michael Maltman taking on the No 8 jersey. Neil McNairn returns from injury on the bench following a few weeks getting up to pace in the 2nd XV.

Marr: Scott Bickerstaff is unavailable due to his Scottish 7s call up so Jack Scott starts on wing. Brandon Sweet starts at prop with Calvin Henderson dropping to the bench.

KEY BATTLE: Michael Maltman versus Benedict Grant


“Hawick away then Marr at home means that we have to back up our good second half showing last week and put it in for the full 80 against the league leaders.  We know it is going to be very tough but we will approach the game with a positive attitude and go out there and put them under as much pressure as we can, both in attack and defence, hoping to upset their good run of form so far this season …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

“After a good win against Jed last week we face a tough away game against Musselburgh. They will be hoping to build on a good second half performance against Hawick last week to put us under pressure. We missed a few chances to score last week and our focus this week will be to ensure that we take our opportunities, if we don’t Musselburgh will punish us …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

VERDICT: Chieftains a fortnight ago, Hawick at Mansfield last week – and now league leaders Marr. It has been a tough run for Musselburgh – and in truth it is difficult not to think that it is all about keeping it respectable – and we wish them well.

A banana skin that Marr must avoid.

Away win.

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Venue: Philiphaugh @ 3pm


Currie Chieftains: F Sayers; C Meager, S Hamilton, A Hall, A MacLean; G Hunter, G Christie; G Carson, R Vucango, R Patterson, S Edwards, M Vernel, H Ferguson, W Nelson, R Davies. Subs: G Williamson, M Argiro, M Poole, M Currie, J McCaig.


Currie Chieftains: Captain Fergus Scott is still missing, last week’s man-of-the-match Cairn Ramsay picked up an injury against GHA so is replaced by Reece Patterson at tight-head, and Matt Poole returns to the bench but will undergo a late fitness test.


“Last week was tougher than the score-line suggests as GHA threatened our line for much of the first half, so the biggest positive was our defence. We will need to be a lot better in possession this week against a Selkirk team who have won two on the bounce away from home and will be excited to play in front of their home crowd …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

VERDICT: The big showdown with Marr on 14 December – there is no way Chieftains are going let this one slip.

Away win.

Cartha QP teenager Luca Alessandri takes tight-head switch in his stride

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