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

Second-placed Currie Chieftains take on third placed Aberdeen Grammar at Malleny Park, while table-toppers Marr entertain Edinburgh Accies

Hawick host Glasgow Hawks with both sides desperate for a win to boost morale and their respective league placings after a disappointing couple of weeks. Image: Kenny Baillie
Hawick host Glasgow Hawks with both sides desperate for a win to boost morale and their respective league placings after a disappointing couple of weeks. Image: Kenny Baillie

IN this last round of matches before a short break until November 9th, every team will be keen to finish this opening block of the season on a high.

Marr are targeting their seventh win on the bounce, and with head coach Craig Redpath insisting that his side still haven’t fully hit their straps, the challenge for the rest of the league is to initially find a way of holding on to the Troon men’s coat-tails and then find a way of tripping them up.

This week, it is Edinburgh Accies’ turn to try to slow Marr’s momentum, and after getting a breather last week with their game against Hawick postponed until the new year, they will be fresh and have had plenty tome to fully tune-in to what is required in order to claim a major scalp.

Currie Chieftains and Aberdeen Grammar are the two nearest challengers but one looks certain to knock the other’s momentum when they clash at Malleny Park.

Meanwhile, fourth placed Jed-Forest are on the road to a GHA side who have begun to find their feet after a jittery start to life back in the Premiership, Hawick and Glasgow Hawks will be desperate to get their seasons back on track at Mansfield after a couple of disappointing recent outings, and Musselburgh are on the road to Selkirk.


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HOW IS STANDS –

PremiershipPWLDFADTBLBPts
Marr RFC87013121651476036
Currie Chieftains87102961331637035
Aberdeen Grammar8530230258-284024
Selkirk RFC8341226215115120
GHA RFC8350223301-786119
Hawick RFC7331174147273118
Edinburgh Accies7331194183113017
Jed-Forest RFC8260211250-395316
Glasgow Hawks RFC8260168240-723314
Musselburgh RFC8260199341-1424113

THE LOWDOWN –

SELKIRK v MUSSELBURGH

VENUE: Philiphaugh @ 3pm

TEAM –

Musselburgh: J Ferguson; T Foley, S Watt, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; R Stott, J Crain, C Arthur, W Fleming, J Haynes, G McKinstry, C Pryde, L Hutson. Subs: P Portsmouth, E Bonthron, P Brown, F Roddick, R Smith.

TEAM NEWS –

Musselburgh: Straight swap at hooker with Jonathon Crain in for Paddy Portsmouth after impressing ​off the bench last week against Jed.  The Watt brothers now occupy the centre with Rory Smith dropping to the bench ​and Tom Foley coming in on the wing. Freddie Roddick gets a place amongst the replacements after injury.

WHAT THE COACH SAYS –

“Philiphaugh is always a very difficult place to go and come away with anything so we will need to improve our execution from the last couple of weeks to do that. We are going there with confidence that we can win and the feeling in the camp is still positive after a good review session on Tuesday night. The backline we have along with our bench is something we are looking to get into the game and set piece will be key …”– Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)

VERDICT:  Musselburgh fought hard in the second half against Jed last week, dominating both possession and territory – but home advantage should be enough to swing it Selkirk’s way.

Home win

Savills

GHA v JED-FOREST

VENUE: Braidholm @ 3pm

TEAMS –

GHA: C Binnie; J Craig, G Mollison, J Reilly, J Baillie; J Anderson, A Gillman; T Brogan, H Clark, M Fox, A Barnett, J McCarthy©, A Kerr, D Ewing, M Marinkovic. Subs: E Caven, S Fisher, M Ryan, G Baird, A Scott.

Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, R Marshall, M Mitchell, G Young©; R Yourston, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, P Ferreira, M Weekley, H Meadows, D Grieve, J McGough, D Buckley. Subs: C Lothian, A Keeler, E Lauder, J Ferguson, G Munro.

TEAM NEWS –

GHA: ​Losing Charlie Lonergan to injury is a blow — and moving Grant Mollison up to replace him is a big call – given how well he played at full-back up in Aberdeen last week. Andrew Gillman replaces George Baird at scrum-half and Chris Binnie comes in for Mollison at full-back. They are back to full strength up front with the return to the back-row from injury  of captain Jamie McCarthy and Dario Ewing after his suspension.

Jed-Forest: Monty Mitchell and Robbie Yourston swap positions with the former now at centre and the latter at stand-off while Nik Stingl earns a start at scrum-half with Gary Munro on the bench. Harry Meadows moves into second row with Paulo Ferreira replacing him on the tight head – and, in the back row, Dom Buckley comes in for last week’s man-of- the-match Ben McNeill.

KEY BATTLE: Andrew Gillman v Nik Stingl

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“After a disappointing game against Aberdeen last week we are looking to bounce back against Jed-Forest this week. We have had some great games against Jed-Forest at Braidholm over the last couple of seasons and know this will be a tough test for our squad, we will need a​n 80 minute performance this weekend with intensity and discipline …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)

“The desire to stop our opponents from scoring at the end las​t week against Musselburgh will bode well for future games starting this week …” – Fraser Harkness (Jed-Forest)

VERDICT: Jed will give it a go – and if they can win enough ball they will be a handful – but if GHA can tighten up their game after last week’s try-fest without totally compromising their enterprise they should have enough to see them home.

Home win.

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MARR v EDINBURGH ACCIES

VEVNUE: Fullarton Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Marr: G Ness; S Bickerstaff, R Dalgleish, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Sturgeon, G Montgomery; B Sweet, O Rossi, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant. Subs: J Drummond, W Farquhar, J Harvey, G Baird, I Turaga.

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; M Sinclair, R Wilson, N Armstrong, C Ramm; J Loomes, M Love; D Anderson, S Crombie, C Lacour, A Inwood, D Dineen, P O’Sullivan, J Sole©, R Campbell. Subs: R Simpson, C Lamberton, C Thomson, J Bruce, W Stephen.

TEAM NEWS –

Marr: With Jack Preston not available ​and with Gregor Ness fit again, Greg Montgomery ​moves from full-back to scrum-half. Jack Scott has also recovered from injury and reclaims his spot on the right wing. Grant Baird comes into the bench to cover scrum-half.

Edinburgh Accies: Callum Ramm starts on the wing after a spell in Australia with Mark Sinclair and Neil Armstrong also into the backl​ine. Danny Dineen starts in the second-row with former Edinburgh Rugby hooker Sean Crombie back also.

KEY BATTLE: Gregor Ness v Ben Appleson.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Another tough home game against Edinburgh Accies who will be looking for an away win to move them up the table. They have had a tough start playing away from home regularly so far. After a tough game against Selkirk last week, where the score flattered us, we are looking for an improved team performance and to maintain the levels we reached in the last 15 minutes in that one …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

“We are on the road again and loving it. Marr is clearly a tough place to pick up wins, they have a fantastic record and have started this season very strongly. However, with a week off last Saturday and putting right some wrongs in training, we feel ready to take on the challenge and look forward to a cracking game in Troon …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)

VERDICT: ​Accies need a result to pull themselves free of the relegation quagmire before the break – but it is very difficult to see them getting one at Fullarton against (whatever Craig Redpath professes) is a very good Marr side.

Comfortable home win.

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CURRIE CHIEFTAINS v ABERDEEN GRAMMAR

VENUE: Malleny Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; S Hamilton, A Hall, A Harley, C Meager; G Hunter, G Christie; G Carson, F Scott©, M Sonzogni Argiro, M Poole, S Edwards, H Ferguson, M Vernel, W Nelson. Subs: G Williamson, C Ramsay, J Ramsay, M O’Neil, T Clark.

Aberdeen Grammar: S Mills; N Brown, M Mitchell, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson©, J Troup; C Reddish, B Inglis, M Schosser, N Coe, R Cessford, W Alton, C Jollands, G Ryan. Subs: R Anderson, A Cook, J Spence, G Nicholl, C Shepherd.

TEAM NEWS –

Currie Chieftains: Gregor Hunter and Cammy Meager return from injury to the backline. Sam Edwards replaces Josh O’Brien in the pack after impressing off the bench last week​, with Mike Vernel switching to the back row. Jacob Ramsay joins his brother Cairn on the bench.

Aberdeen Grammar: A settled looking squad after a good run of form ​with Mattias Schosser ​making a welcome return at tighthead prop with Ross Anderson reverting to the bench while Gregor Nicholl earns a bench spot.

KEY BATTLE: Gregor Hunter v Sam Knudson.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Aberdeen will be full of confidence and experience and have made a great start on their return to the Premiership. They are a physical side with threats all over the park. We feel we have made some improvements in recent weeks, but still need to keep getting better and be as close to the top of our game as possible. The league is reaching a crucial stage. We have prepared well this week for the specific challenge Aberdeen will bring …” – Ally Donaldson (Currie Chieftains)

“We haven’t played Currie for a number of years so we are looking forward to travelling and measuring ourselves against one of the league leaders at present. It promises to be a good game hopefully we can produce a performance worthy of taking points from the match. They have some excellent players and are going well in the league so our boys are pretty motivated to get down there and show what we can do …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)    

VERDICT: Match of the day! And it should be a cracker!

Second versus third in the league.Both clubs play good rugby – but Chieftains need to tighten up their scrum and Aberdeen need to sharpen up their defence. It could go either way – but Gregor Hunter and home advantage should give Chieftains the edge.

Narrow home win.

Cala Homes supports Currie Chieftains

HAWICK v GLASGOW HAWKS

VENUE: Mansfield Park @ 3pm

TEAMS –

Hawick: A Weir©; K Ford, A Mitchell, Glen Welsh, L Gordon-Woolley; B Donaldson, Gareth Welsh; M Carryer, C Renwick, C Greer-Bucherzewski, D Suddon, K McNeil, S Graham, B McNeil, S Fairbairn. Subs: R MacLeod, M Renwick, J Rowley, J Linton, M Bannerman.

Glasgow Hawks: N Moffat; K Gossman, E Oag, C Harrison, Y Alagilly; L Brims, P Boyer; G Strain, P Cairncross, E Rintoul, A Kirkland, L Archer, S Leckey©, S Dow, R Sweeney. Subs: T McTeir, K Hughes, M Priestly, S Greig, M Stewart.

TEAM NEWS –

Hawick: ​Yet more changes at half-back – with the recall of Bailey Donaldson and Gareth Welsh – who will hope to be more successful in bringing Andrew Mitchell and Logan Gordon-Wooley into the game than the previous incumbents. Glen Welsh ​comes into the centre​ for Grant Huggan. ​Dale Johnstone and Bruce McNeil are unavailable so Matty Carryer plays at loose head and Billy McNeil comes into the back-row –  where he joins Shaun Fairbairn, who steps back to replace Jay Linton – with Keith McNeil coming into the boiler house.

Glasgow Hawks: Experienced campaigners Erlend Oag and Paddy Boyer return to the starting XV with player leaders Paul Cairncross and Liam Brims also returning. Ryan Sweeney comes back into the pack to add some punch from No.8.

KEY BATTLE: Shaun Fairbairn v Ryan Sweeney.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY –

“Both sides have been struggling to find form so far this season so it should be a good encounter. From our perspective we need to start improving. A few new faces once again in the squad this week so let’s hope we can find the winning blend …” – George Graham (Hawick)

“Some harsh words this week at training as the boys didn’t do themselves justice against a good Currie side. Going down to Mansfield is always a difficult task as they always have a lot of heart and fight especially at home. I have no doubt we are capable of winning, however, it will come down to the boys matching Hawick’s intent and intensity for the full 80 minutes and having the belief that we can win …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)

VERDICT: With some of their most senior players missing, the Hawick side has got a ‘thrown together’ feel to it – whilst Hawks, on paper, appear much stronger than they have been all season. But rugby matches are played on grass not paper — and the Hawick boys will be hurting after their poor show in their last home game against Marr. It is all a question of how much they are hurting.

Narrow home win.


Merchiston Castle host inaugural Tri Nations Rugby Festival this weekend

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