HOPEFULLY no typhoons will be putting games in doubt in the Premiership this weekend, although the Edinburgh Accies versus Hawick match has been pushed back to February because of the development work going on at Raeburn Place.
That leaves just four games this Saturday with leaders Marr at home to Selkirk, second placed Currie Chieftains on the road to Glasgow Hawks, Jed-Forest hosting Musselburgh, and GHA heading up to Aberdeen Grammar.
HOW IT STANDS –
THE LOWDOWN –
JED-FOREST v MUSSELBURGH
VENUE: Riverside Park @ 3.00pm
Jed-Forest: L Young; C Young, R Marshall, R Yourston, Gregor Young©; M Mitchell, G Munro; G Paxton, F Campbell, H Meadows, F McKerracher, M Weekley, B McNeil, J McGough, D Grieve. Subs: A Keeler, P Ferreira, E Lauder, N Singl, AN Other.
Musselburgh: J Ferguson; S Watt, R Smith, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; R Stott, P Portsmouth, C Arthur, W Fleming, J Haynes, G McKinstry, C Pryde, L Hutson. Subs: J Crain, E Bonthron, C Champion, A Reddick, T Foley.
TEAM NEWS –
Jed-Forest: Gary Munro and Fergus McKerracher come into the Jed starting XV in the second-row and at scrum-half respectively. Donald Grieve starts at No.8.
Musselburgh: Max Outram is missing from the back-row due to work commitments after impressing in recent weeks.
KEY BATTLE: Lewis Young v James Ferguson.
WHAT THE COACH SAYS –
“Last week at Selkirk we gave away far too many penalties, but we came away with a point. We need to now put in a more complete performance …” – Gavin Kerr (Jed-Forest)
”This will be a very intense game with both teams looking to get some valuable points on the board. Our guys know where we slipped up last week at home against Aberdeen and with faith put back in pretty much the same side they are keen to get out there and prove to themselves that they can compete hard in this league. Jed love to attack so our defence will need to be on their guard to stop the flow of the game for the opposition …” – Graeme Paterson (Musselburgh)
VERDICT: A must win for both clubs – with the result likely to be critical come the relegation dog-fight in March.
Injuries to Gary Young and Gregor Law put the Jed pack under pressure – and discipline will need to improve – but the back-line Youngs will test Musselburgh to the full – if they get any sort of ball.
They played well against Aberdeen last week, but Musselburgh showed an alarming lack of composure when it came to the crunch – and Riverside can sometimes be a bit of a cauldron for the ‘flaky’ visitor.
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GLASGOW HAWKS v CURRIE CHIEFTAINS
VENUE: Balgray @ 3.00pm
Glasgow Hawks: Y Alagilly; K Gossman, M Stewart, C Harrison, M Godsman; K Henderson, S Greig; L Archer, T McTeir, G Strain, A Kirkland, S Halafihi, S Leckey©, S Dow, F Christie. Subs: P Henderson, E Rintoul, P Boyer, J Strain, N Moffat.
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; C Meager, S Hamilton, A Hall, A MacLean; A Harley, G Christie; G Carson, F Scott©, M Sonzogni Argiro, M Poole, M Vernel, H Ferguson, J O’Brien, W Nelson. Subs: G Williamson, C Ramsay, S Edwards, M O’Neil, T Clark.
TEAM NEWS –
Glasgow Hawks: Kyle Henderson is given a start at 10 in the absence of Liam Brims with Matthew Stewart also joining the backline after injury. Sione Halafihi is back in the pack.
Currie Chieftains: Alex Harley comes in at 10 with Gregor Hunter still returning from his concussion return to play protocols.
KEY BATTLE: Kyle Henderson v Alex Harley.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“Reviewing last week’s video was a tough watch for our boys, but the important thing is we learn from our mistakes. This week we come up against a solid out fit in Currie who have had a great start to the season. We know we come into this as underdogs and look forward to the challenge that Currie will pose with their free flowing rugby …”– Andy Hill (Glasgow Hawks)
“It’s a very competitive league with any team capable of winning on their day. Hawks will be smarting from a late collapse against GHA which cost them victory and will come out firing. We are aiming to improve week in week out and get a consistency of performance over 80 minutes we are capable of … ” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)
VERDICT: Hawks played some great rugby against GHA but lost their way when Liam Brims came off and he is not back this week. Sione Halafihi will stiffen up an already handy pack – but one which cannot afford any more indiscipline from Andy Kirkland!
Consistency of performance is Mark Cairns’ mantra for Chieftains – but he is confident enough to blood another youngster by bringing last year’s George Watson College fly-half, Alex Harley, in as cover for the concussed Gregor Hunter.
With twelve teenagers in the starting line-up there has to be a danger that the wheels could come off – particularly away from home – but they can all play – and they stuck in a workmanlike performance against Accies last week – so it is maybe there for the taking.
Narrow away win.
MARR v SELKIRK
VENUE: Fullarton Park @ 3.00pm
Marr: G Montgomery; R Dalgleish, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, I Turaga; C Sturgeon, J Preston; B Sweet, O Rossi, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant. Subs: J Drummond, W Farquhar, C Cunningham, J Harvey, G Ness.
TEAM NEWS –
Marr: After a good win last week they are able to put out the same squad as last week. Scott Bickerstaff has still not recovered from his leg injury suffered against Currie.
WHAT THE COACH SAYS –
“After a good performance and win against Hawick on Saturday, we face another border team on Saturday at home. Our games against Selkirk have always been tough and very close. We expect Saturday to be the same and new coach Scott Wight will have them well prepared … ” –Craig Redpath (Marr)
VERDICT: Top of the league – six tries at Mansfield last week – at home – no fresh injury worries. Complacency is Marr’s only danger.
Comfortable home win.
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR v GHA
VENUE: Rubislaw @ 3.00pm
Aberdeen Grammar: S Mills; N Brown, M Mitchell, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson©, J Troup; C Reddish, B Inglis, R Anderson, N Coe, R Cessford, C Jollands, W Alton, G Ryan. Subs: M Schosser, A Cook, J Spence, T Morrison, C Shepherd.
GHA: G Mollison; J Craig, C Lonergan, J Reilly, J Baillie; J Anderson, G Baird; T Brogan©, H Clark, M Fox, A Barnett, A Kerr, M Marinkovic, M Ryan, L McCutcheon. Subs: L Barron, S Fisher, E Hardie, A Gillman, A Scott.
TEAM NEWS –
Aberdeen Grammar: Sean Mills comes into the side at full-back and Mattias Schosser returns to the bench, otherwise it is the same starting XV that won at Musselburgh.
GHA: Last week’s try scoring hero, Michael Fox, gets the nod at tight-head but an injury to captain Jamie McCarthy and the suspension of Dario Ewing forces a shuffle elsewhere in the pack. Adam Kerr moves into the second-row with Mike Ryan and Milan Marinkovic coming into the back-row. In the backs, Jack Reilly makes his debut at 12.
KEY BATTLE: Tom Aplin v Jack Reilly
WHAT THE COACH SAYS –
“GHA always represents a really strong challenge for us. We’ve had some very close games over the years with home advantage usually being the deciding factor. Both teams like to throw the ball around so hopefully the weather stays good and we have a open game for spectators …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)
“Aberdeen is always a tough place to go and win, but with our last two wins there is a great buzz about the club. We will be pulling on all our experiences from the first five games and look forward to a great game against Aberdeen, composure will be key for us this week …” – Trevor Carmichael (GHA)
VERDICT: Match of the day.
Full strength – home advantage – no excuses for Aberdeen Grammar – but they will need to play. A powerful pack – dangerous backs – and a golden opportunity to legitimise their challenge for the play-offs.
One of the great days for GHA against Hawks last week but they will miss Jamie McCarthy and Dario Ewing up front against Aberdeen.
They will give it their best shot – no doubt – but Rubislaw might be a bridge too far.