Men’s Premiership & National 1 Preview | Round 15
The Men’s Premiership and National 1 leagues continue this week as we enter Rounds 15 and 14.
Glasgow Hawks v Currie Chieftains – Balgray, 2pm
After two postponed matches in a row, Glasgow Hawks will hope it’s third time lucky as they host Currie Chieftains.
Currie sit third in the league and could go second with a win, whilst Hawks sit in second bottom but have two games in hand on Selkirk, who are directly above them.
Glasgow Hawks Head Coach Andy Hill said: “Sione Halafihi is back from Dad duties and is available so gets the nod after his huge performance against Marr last time out. JP Thomson comes in to start at number 8 with Lewis Stewart unavailable, and Craig Nolan is available so comes onto the bench.
“The back line remains unchanged other than James Imrie comes in at 9 for Eric Davey. Euan Muirhead has recovered from a delayed concussion he sustained against Marr so comes onto the bench.
“Hopefully we see some rugby this weekend as the boys have missed it and our matches against Currie are usually exciting affairs. Mark and Ally play a good brand of rugby and always have their boys well prepared.
“This is a season of firsts and we are ideally looking to beat Currie for the first time in this new format of the Premiership, however we know how big a task this will be and we have to be at our best as Currie are a quality outfit who are chasing top four.”
Heriot’s Blues v Musselburgh – Goldenacre, 2pm
A bonus point win at home to Musselburgh could see Heriot’s Blues overtake the Stoneyhill side in the league.
Heriot’s sit in sixth, whilst ‘Burgh are currently five points ahead of them in fourth.
Heriot’s Blues Head Coach Phil Smith said: “One change from our last fixture against Currie with Ross Jones coming onto the bench.
“This has the makings of a terrific derby day fixture. Both 1sts and 2nds at home, our Christmas lunch sold out, both teams vying for a play-off spot and the game at Stoneyhill throwing up an 80-point thriller earlier in the season. Of course, three days of rain means it could very well be a 3-0 battle at Glue Pot Goldie!
“On a more serious note, both ourselves and Musselburgh have pushed on from last year and should both be delighted with this progression, however, this is not the time to reflect on this as the play-off spot is now a reality, meaning I envisage a full-blooded affair where both teams’ attacking beliefs will put our defensive frailties to the test.”
Musselburgh Head Coach Derek O’Riordan added: “Putting the break last week into context means that it was the first weekend without a game in 17 weeks. We cannot under-estimate what that means for bodies, and minds, to recover from what feels like a relentless run of games for us.
“The re-sequencing of games means that our trip to Goldenacre is a significant head-to-head that can make or brake the back end of the season for either team. Couple that with the conditions and I reckon we are in for a physical challenge.
“Lets hope its a challenge we are willing to rise to as on their day Heriots have the beating of any team in the league, and with a run of home games to look forward to they are likely after a momentum builder at the weekend. What a privilege to be involved in games like these so deep into the season.”
Marr v Edinburgh Academical – Fullarton Park, 2pm
Marr could head to the top of the table if they win at home to fifth-placed Edinburgh Academical.
Marr are just four points off the pace, while Accies could jump into the playoff places if they come out on top.
Edinburgh Academical Head Coach Iain Berthinussen said: “Marr away is one of the toughest trips in the Premiership but as a group we are excited about the challenge that Saturday will bring.
“Our effort levels need to be high, and we must embrace the physical challenge that Marr will bring whilst focusing on getting our game right.”
Hawick v Jed-Forest – Mansfield Park, 3pm
It’s top against bottom in the Borders as leaders Hawick host Jed-Forest.
Hawick are four points clear at the top, having lost only once all season, while Jed-Forest are still seeking their first win.
Hawick Director of Rugby Gary Muir said: “Following no rugby last weekend the boys are keen to get back to business at home to Jed-Forest this weekend in what is potentially our last home game of the season due to the way fixtures fall after the Christmas Break.
“We know Jed have had a difficult season so far but we know all to well how dangerous teams fighting for the life can be especially fellow Border clubs.
“If we execute our game plan and get our forwards on top we will have giving ourselves every opportunity to be on the right side of the result come 5pm, however I do not expect a repeat of the score line from Riverside earlier in the season.”
Jed-Forest Coach Ross Goodfellow added: “It will be a very tough game in bad conditions so we need to compete up front.
“In the first 20 minutes, we will need to settle into the game and defend really well and take our chances when they come along.”
Selkirk v Kelso – Philiphaugh, 3pm
The final Premiership game this week sees a Borders derby as Selkirk host Kelso.
Selkirk are in eighth, one place below and five points behind Kelso but with a game in hand.
Selkirk Head Coach Gordon Henderson said: “The boys are buzzing to get back to it after having a week off with the weather last week, so training’s been pretty intense with a wee bit of extra edge, and there needed to be for another Border derby.
“For these sort of games, the team who wins is whoever makes least mistakes, especially because it’s going to be pretty wet conditions, but we’ll just look after ourselves, make sure we’re accurate in attack and in defence everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.
“Ultimately, whoever keeps their discipline is going to come out the winning side. Against Kelso, they make you work hard for everything, so we need to be at the top of our game to make sure at home that we come away with the points.”
In National League Division 1, unbeaten Ayr will be hoping for a 13th consecutive win when they host Gala.
Glasgow Academicals could move into second with a win away to Biggar.
GHA will be hoping to move above Watsonians by beating them at Braidholm.
There’s a clash of the bottom two in Glasgow as GHK host Dundee.
And Melrose could also claim second spot with a bonus point win at home to Highland.
This week, Biggar v Glasgow Accies and GHA v Watsonians kick off at 2pm. The remaining games are at 3pm.