Men’s Premiership & National 1 Preview | Round 11
We’re now into Round 11 of the Men’s Premiership and Round 10 National Division 1 leagues. Here’s everything you need to know going into this weekend.
Heriot’s Blues v Kelso – Goldenacre, KO 2pm
Heriot’s Blues and Kelso will kick things off this weekend as they go head-to-head at Goldenacre.
Just two points separate the two sides in the table standings, with the Blues sneaking ahead to fifth place by two points. Two table points also stand between the Blues and Musselburgh, so a win for either side could prove vital in climbing up the ranks.
In their previous battle, the score was drawn 24 all and they both currently sit with four wins each, so bragging rights to are also up for grabs with this win.
Last weekend, whilst Heriot’s picked up a try-bonus point in their valiant efforts, they were ultimately short of the mark being defeated 43-34 to Marr.
Looking ahead of this weekend’s battle, Blues Head Coach, Phil Smith said: After five weeks on the road the boys are delighted to be returning to Goldenacre, if they remember where it is. Kelso are pushing hard now for a top four spot after an excellent win last weekend, this means we are going to have to be “on it” for the weekend.”
There are just a handful of changes to their starting line up with Keir Singleton starting at scrum-half and Angus Hunter moving into the centre. Up front, Rory Jackson starts at hooker and Pat Spence and Innes Hill will also make their return after injury.
Kelso have been on an upward trajectory since their Round 8 loss to Currie, earning victories at home over Jed-Forest and Musselburgh.
Last weekend’s win over Musselburgh was something of a triumph, leaving the visitors scoreless in the first half (38-0) before wrapping up the game 45-12 at the full-time whistle.
Kelso’s Bruce McNeil is excited to head to the capital this weekend, saying: “We’re looking forward to going to Goldenacre, it’s always a cracking pitch. They like to throw the ball about so we’ll need to be at our best defensively. We’ve been disappointed with our away form to date so we will be looking to get better without our home comforts this weekend.”
Hawick v Marr – Mansfield Park, KO 3pm
Down in the Borders, Hawick will welcome Marr to Mansfield for a top of the table clash.
Their loss to Marr (24-5) has been the reining champion’s only defeat in the season so far. Last weekend Hawick travelled to Hawks, beating them 15-36.
Speaking to scottishrugby.org ahead of the game, Hawick’s Director of Rugby, Gary Muir said: “This weekend will be another tough game against Marr as they always are. They turned us over earlier in the season and our boys have worked hard this week to put themself in the best position possible to get the win on Saturday and are looking forward to the challenge.
“We have a fairly settled squad at the moment, and we are beginning to see partnerships forming in key areas and this will be crucial as we look to break down a well-drilled Marr outfit.
“We are at home and the Mansfield Park faithful I’m sure will play their part as they always do and we look forward to welcoming as many of them down to Mansfield as we can to witness what Premiership and club rugby has to offer.”
For Marr, last weekend saw the Troon outfit return to winning ways after their loss to Musselburgh, defeating Heriot’s Blues 43-34. The Bickerstaff brothers shone, with Scott scoring a hattrick and Conor adding to his personal haul of 107 tries for Marr. Colin Sturgeon also proved his worth, accumulating 10 points from the boot to take his season’s points haul to 100.
Looking ahead to the task in front of them, Marr Head Coach, Kenny Diffenthal said: “Last weekend we were happy with the performance in attack but not so much in defence. We need to tighten that up considerably to be in with a chance against the league leaders.
“We look forward to it and have prepared well to try go away to Hawick and get a result. Top of the table clashes are always entertaining.”
Just one point stands between the two sides and the top spot, so this really is all to play for.
Jed-Forest v Currie Chieftains – Riverside Park, KO 3pm
Another game in the Borders, and this time it’s Jed-Forest playing host to Currie Chieftains at Riverside Park.
Last weekend Currie were challenged at home by Selkirk, who took the final score to within four points, with Currie just holding on to the win 40-36.
Reflecting on their performance, Head Coach Mark Cairns “I was disappointed immediately after last week’s match but on reflection Selkirk played some excellent attacking rugby, especially when given space. We also played some good stuff in attack, but we need to be less wasteful in possession.”
Looking at what they will need to do to triumph in the Borders, he added: “In defence we will need to cut down Jed’s time to play and get the ball wide, whilst also stopping their momentum up front. Marr were lucky to scrape a victory at Riverside Park and we know how tough a fixture it will be in front of their home support.”
Looking at their squad for the contest, there are a handful of changes: “It’s great to have Ryan Stewart and Ali McCallum available and they start in the pack. In the backs we welcome Gregor Christie back since his last game in last season’s play-off final. Unfortunately, DJ Innes is injured but the rest of the backline remains unchanged from last week.”
Jed continue to hunt for their first win of the season and will be hoping they can do that tomorrow in front of a home crowd.
After a strong start last weekend, where the half-time score only saw Jed trail by a converted try (21-14) the Riverside men were ultimately defeated by Accies in a second-half blitz, 57-14.
Musselburgh v Edinburgh Academical FC – Stonehill, KO 3pm
Musselburgh return to Stoneyhill this weekend as they welcome Edinburgh Accies.
In their Round 2 game, Accies emerged victorious with a 41-25 win. But since then it’s been something of a rollercoaster ride for both sides in the results department, earning four wins each amongst a serious of losses and draws.
For Musselburgh, last weekend ended in disappointment after their epic win over Marr the week before. The Burgh men were only able to score 12 points to Kelso’s 45.
A win for Musselburgh on Saturday could see them push their way back into the top four.
Musselburgh’s Head Coach, Derek O’Riordan said: “Despite our position in the league we have only won once at home this season. If we are to achieve anything this year, we need to do a better job of making Stoneyhill a difficult place to come and get a result.
“Last week’s loss, and the manner in which it unfolded provides all the motivation we need to roll the sleeves up and set about redeeming ourselves.”
Accies are now on a winning streak of three games and will be hoping to add a fourth on Saturday.
Last weekend the capital side enjoyed a convincing 57-14 victory over Jed, with eight tries scored by eight individuals: Grant Hall, Ted Jones, Kieran Slingsby, Chris Thomson, Calum Crookshanks, Tom Drennan, Kerr Gossman and Ben Grainger.
Looking ahead to the trip to the East, Accies head Coach Iain Berthinussen said: “This week we head to Stoneyhill to play Musselburgh, who will be smarting from there defeat versus Kelso last weekend at Poynder Park – a feeling we know all too well.
“We will need to produce one of our best performances of the season to get a result against one of the form teams in the Premiership.”
Selkirk v Glasgow Hawks – Philiphaugh, KO 3pm
Finally, Glasgow Hawks make a trip to the Borders to take on Selkirk.
In their previous fixture, Hawks enjoyed a resounding 45-19 win.
Despite their win-rate, Selkirk have shown they have plenty of grit, determination and fight within them, and that can not be better demonstrated than with their performance last Saturday against Currie Chieftains.
The opening quarter saw Selkirk go down 19-0, and for spectators, it would have looked like Currie had an easy game on their hands, but gradually they came back into the game to score four tries, of which all were converted, and a penalty. The full-time score was concluded 40-36, so whilst they didn’t win, Selkirk left Malleny Park with two bonus-points for their efforts.
Speaking about the game, Head Coach Gordon Henderson said: “We have taken a lot of encouragement in terms of our attacking game, scoring five tries away to Currie last week. Perhaps we could have sneaked a win, but we took two points away from home which is better than leaving with nothing.
“Last week we had a slow start against Currie but we worked hard to come back. Hawks have had some good results over the last few weeks so it will be a challenge. For us we need to start and finish the game with the same energy. That will allows us to stay in the game and stay in the fight. We are desperate to put a performance in and get a win at home.”
For Hawks, last weekend’s task of taking on the reining Champions proved a challenge. They were defeated 15-36.
Although win for Selkirk wouldn’t be enough to overtake Hawks in the table standings, it would take them to within just one point.
Dundee will host Glasgow Accies on Saturday as both sides look to return to winning ways after losses to Highland and Ayr respectively last week.
GHA will welcome Gala to Braidholm. Last weekend Gala recorded their fourth win of the season with a 31-10 over Watsonians. For GHA, this weekend gives them a chance to return to winning ways after two losses.
These two games kick-off at 2pm.
Top of the league Ayr will be looking to continue their unbeaten run when they host Biggar. Biggar triumphed over GHK last weekend with a 55-8 win and will be keen to challenge the league leaders.
GHK will look to turn things around as they welcome Melrose to Anniesland. Melrose defeated GHA 40-10 last weekend to overtake them in the league standings, and now sit in fourth place.
Highland travel to the capital on Saturday to face Watsonians at Myreside with hope of backing up their 38-12 win over Dundee last Saturday, whilst Watsonians look to bounce back from their 31-10 loss to Gala.
Each of these three games take kick-off at 3pm.