THREE teams – Currie Chieftains, Hawick and Marr – have maximum points in the Tennent’s Premiership ahead of week three of action.
Something will have to give at Malleny Park when third placed Chieftains take on leaders Hawick in what looks like being the game of the day in the top flight. With The Bill McLaren Shield also on the line, it should be a cracker.
Marr are on the road to winless GHA, second bottom Musselburgh host Edinburgh Accies, Aberdeen Grammar make the long trip to Philiphaugh to face Selkirk, and Jed-Forest will be desperate to get off the mark after two home defeats when they host a Glasgow Hawks side boosted by last week’s win over Grammar.
HOW IT STANDS –
THE LOWDOWN –
MUSSELBURGH V EDINBURGH ACCIES
VENUE: Stoneyhill @ 3.00pm
Musselburgh: N Sweeney; T Foley, R Smith, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson; E Bonthron, J Crane, C Arthur, W Fleming, G McKinstrey, M Maltman©, L Hutson, C Champion. Subs: M Outram, R Stott, P Brown, J Haynes, K McGhie, J Ferguson.
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; R Cameron, R Wilson, R Mill, M Cairnes; J Loomes, M Sinclair; C Imrie, N Hall, C Lacour, D Dinnen, A Inwood, P O’Sullivan, J Sole©, R Campbell. Subs: S Crombie, F MacKenzie, J Bruce, M Love, J Adamson.
TEAM NEWS –
Musselburgh: Tom Foley and Danny Owenson come into the backline, on the wing and at scrum-half respectively, while the experienced duo of William Fleming and Graeme McKinstrey team up in the second-row.
Edinburgh Accies: Mark Sinclair comes in at No 9 with last week’s hat-trick hero Max Love dropping to the bench. The front-row has been reshaped and captain Jamie Sole is back on the flank. Former Falkirk winger Jacob Adamson coming ontothe bench.
KEY BATTLE: Danny Owenson versus Mark Sinclair
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“We are looking forward to getting back to Stoneyhill and getting our league campaign started. I think on the back of playing two very good sides in Hawick and Marr, where we actually did well in large parts of those games, we can go into the game with some confidence. That said, we will have to play very well to get a result against an Accies team who have gone down to Jed and come back with five points, so nothing short of an excellent performance will do for us …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)
“Another settled squad this week, with Clement Lacour coming in at tighthead and Cole Imrie switching to the loosehead. Mark Sinclair and Nick Hall start this weekend after impressing off the bench at scrum half and hooker respectively against Jed-Forest and we are excited to see Jacob Adamson come into our match day squad …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
VERDICT: Danny Owenson will make a difference for Musselburgh – and they have brought some valuable ‘nous’ into their boiler-house –but it is still a big ask – even with home advantage.
Accies lost their way in the final quarter against Jed last weekend and appear to have reacted decisively in consequence. They have been treading water for the past couple of weeks – but experience counts – and it must only be a matter of time until they get their act together.
SELKIRK V ABERDEEN GRAMMAR
VENUE: Philiphaugh @ 3.00pm
Aberdeen Grammar: B Perrot; N Brown, N Coe, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson©, T Morrison; A Cook, B Inglis, M Schosser, J Robertson, R Cessford, C Jollands, W Alton, G Ryan. Subs: M Martin, C Robertson, G Nicol, M Mitchell, J Troup.
TEAM NEWS –
Aberdeen Grammar: Bryn Perrot starts at full-back, while Andrew Cook and Ben Inglis come into the front-row, and the likes of Morgan Martin and Gregor Nicol get a chance on the bench.
WHAT THE COACH SAYS –
“We are looking forward to a trip down to Selkirk with a real intent on making up for a poor second half last week. The reaction at training this week’s been positive from both squads that we’ve worked hard to correct and improve a number of areas that we had to work on. We welcome back Andrew Cook to the squad along with Ben Inglis who gives us an ability and aggression with ball in hand, plus some much-needed experience for a pack who suffered a number of injuries last week. It’s been a long time since we won down in Selkirk and everybody is fully focused on producing the best performance possible which will need because they are a quality team …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)
VERDICT: Both teams suffered defeats last weekend after opening day wins. Grammar have been working hard to rectify the issues of the game at Hawks, but home advantage may just win out.
A narrow home win.
GHA V MARR
VENUE: Braidholm @ 3.00pm
GHA: G Mollison; J Baillie, C Lonergan, C King, A Purewal; J Anderson, A Gillman; T Brogan, D Ewing, S Fisher, A Barnett, A Kerr, M Marinkovic, S Plumridge, M Ryan. Subs: A Cornwell, H Clark, L McCutcheon, G Baird, R O’Keefe.
Marr: G Ness; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, R Dalgleish; C Sturgeon, G Montgomery; B Sweet, O Rossi, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant. Subs: C McMillan, W Farquhar, C Cunningham, J Scott, I Turaga.
TEAM NEWS –
GHA: Seven changes in the starting line-up from last week down atMansfield.Jack Anderson makes his debut at stand-off in place of Ruairi O’Keefe while a number ofplayers such asGrant Mollison and Charlie Lonergan are fitavailableagain. the team hasa fresh look to it.
Marr: With Jack Preston unavailable, Grant Montgomery makes the move from 15 to scrum-half with Gregor Ness in at full-back. Curran McMillan and Jack Scott come onto the bench.
KEY BATTLE: Mike Ryan versus Benedict Grant
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“We have had a tough couple of weeks, but we have learnt a harsh lesson about Premiership rugby and what is required as a squad and individually. Marr is another huge test for us and their tails will be up with two wins in the first two weeks. Our focus this week is to put in an 80 minute performance … ” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)
“I’m pleased that we have got off to a good start with two wins from two, but we know there’s a lot of work we need to do to improve our performance. We are coming into a run of tough matches and have to be playing at our best and the hard work continues on Saturday at Braidholm. GHA will be hurting after the results their opening matches and will be dangerous as they try to kick start their season. On our last visit to Braidholm we had a narrow win in a hard fought low scoring contest. We need to be patient, ensure our defence is tight and strike when the opportunity presents …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)
VERDICT: Currie Chieftains, Hawick and now Marr – the Premiership has been a baptism of fire for GHA. Results have not been great – but they have hung in there – and it will be interesting to see what fresh faces bring to the table. Calmer waters are in sight – so, realistically, they are, for now, looking at damage limitation.
Marr have not yet really got firing on all cylinders – but they are likely to be too strong up front for GHA – and Conor Bickerstaff scores tries for fun.
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS V HAWICK
(for the Bill McLaren Shield)
VENUE: Malleny Park @ 3.00pm
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meager, S Hamilton, A Hall, A MacLean; G Hunter, G Christie; G Carson, F Scott©, M Sonzogni Argiro, M Poole, M Vernel, J O’Brien, W Nelson D Dee. Subs: E Blair, C Ramsay, H Ferguson, C Scott, M O’Neil.
Hawick: A Weir©; R McKean, A Mitchell, M Bannerman, L Gordon-Woolley; B Donaldson, G Welsh; D Johnstone, M Carryer, C Greer-Bucherzewski, D Suddon, K McNeil, S Graham, Billy McNeil, Bruce McNeil. Subs: C Renwick, R Toogood, S Fairbairn, J Linton, K Brunton.
TEAM NEWS –
Currie Chieftains: Alex Harley is not available this week so Cameron Meager gets a start on the wing and Steven Hamilton switches into the centre. Wallace Nelson continues in the back-row. Cammy Scott and Matt O’Neil come onto the bench alongside the experienced Ross Merrilees.
Hawick: Ryan Toogood, the 18-year-old, did a great job at loosehead last week when skipper Shawn Muir was injured in the warm-up, but this week the experienced Dale Johnstone gets the nod with Toogood on the bench.
KEY BATTLE: Matias Sonzogni Argiro versus Dale Johnstone
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“I said post-match last week that we will have to produce a more consistent and disciplined performance over the 80 minutes if we are to beat an impressive Hawick side. Hawick have done really well to retain some key players over the summer and have recruited well, so their winning start to the league has not surprised me. Our team has trained well this week and we know what Hawick will bring to the table, It’s teed up to be a great match …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)
“We have made an excellent start to the season, however we are not getting ahead of ourselves and are under no illusions to the different challenge that Currie will bring to the table. Mark will have his lads ready for what I am sure will be a very competitive game. Malleny is a very tough place to grind out a win, so let’s see if we can buck that trend come Saturday …” – George Graham (Hawick)
VERDICT: Both clubs are going well – and both clubs have coaches who think that they should be going better. It takes a good side to win at Malleny but the penalty count is killing Chieftains. Hawick will miss Shawn Muir but you are only as good as the side you are sticking on the park.
It could go either way – with Gregor Hunter maybe being the difference between the two sides.
Narrow home win.
JED-FOREST V GLASGOW HAWKS
VENUE: Riverside Park @ 3.00pm
Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, R Marshall, R Yourston, G Munro; M Mitchell, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Campbell, H Meadows, K Amos, G Law, G Young, M Weekley, D Grieve. Subs: K Lamont, A Keeler, TBC, TBC, TBC.
Glasgow Hawks: N Moffat; C McCarron, M Stewart, C Harrison, M Priestly; L Brims, S Greig; L Archer, P Cairncross, G Strain, S Halafihi, A Kirkland, S Leckey©, S Dow, R Sweeney. Subs: T McTeir, G Armstrong, F Christie , K Gossman, Y Alagilly.
TEAM NEWS –
Jed-Forest: The backline remains unchanged from last week while in the pack Finlay Campbell starts at hooker, Gregor Law is into the second-row and Garry Young and Michael Weekley join the back-row.
Glasgow Hawks: Club captain Stephen Leckey is back while an impressive debut off the bench last week sees Sandy Greig swap places with Kristian Kay to start at nine. Kerr Gossman will make his first appearance of the season off the bench after returning to Hawks for the third time.
KEY BATTLE: Garry Young v Stephen Leckey.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“The final scoreline last week against Accies gave us great encouragement considering we were staring down the barrel of big defeat, we have to try and build from here …” – Gavin Kerr (Jed-Forest)
“A much-improved performance last week after a hard week of training. The boys were able to transfer what we worked on in training into the game. Jed are always a tough team to beat down at Riverside and have a real good mix of youth and experience. They have an exciting backline that can score at any time and we will need to be at our best if we are to come away with a win …” – Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
VERDICT: It looks as though Jed are over the worst of their injury crisis – though Donald Grieve is still boosting their average age. They will be looking to start against Hawks the way they finished off against Accies last week – and with a fair share of ball, their young backs will trouble any team in the league.
Hawks did well against Aberdeen at Balgray – Jed at Jed is a wholly different proposition – even if Stephen Leckey’s return will add a bit steel up front.