Men’s Premiership & National 1 Preview | Round 5
It’s time for Round 5 of the Men’s Premiership and National 1 leagues. Join us as we recap last weekend’s results and look ahead to Saturday's action.
Marr v Kelso – Fullerton Park, KO 3pm
It’s been a tough start for Kelso jumping into the deep end of the Premiership league following their promotion last season.
But with that said, they earned their first win of the season last weekend with a 29-14 try-bonus point win at home over Glasgow Hawks. Captain Frankie Robson, James Thompson, Keith Melbourn, Charlie Marhsall and Hamish Tweedie all crossed the whitewash for the hosts.
Reflecting on their time in the league so far, coach/player, Bruce McNeil said: “The season so far has been indifferent in terms of our performances. There have been games that we’ve played well in and should have got more out of, and some games we just haven’t turned up at all.
“It’s just about trying to get a level of performance week in, week out, and understanding that if we don’t turn up and apply ourselves accordingly, we will get beat.”
This weekend Kelso are the visitors and are eager to back up their work from last Saturday, with Bruce adding: “Looking towards Marr is an exciting challenge for us. It’s a cracking place to play rugby with very passionate supporters, and that’s built through how the team play. They’re a formidable team with power and skill throughout them, so for us to get anything we will have to meet fire with fire.”
Marr have had some exciting clashes so far this season which sees them sitting in second place in the table standings after four rounds.
Last weekend Marr enjoyed a bonus-point win at home with a 38-24 win over Selkirk. Conor Bickerstaff added to his collection of over 100 tries for the Troon-outfit, whilst Jack Scott scored a brace, backed up with scores from Alex Apthorpe and Greg Montgomery.
Looking at their season so far, Marr’s Head Coach Kenny Diffenthal said: “It was not the ideal start for us losing to Heriot’s in our first game but since then we have managed to put a few good performances together and come out on the right side.
“We welcome Kelso to Fullarton on Saturday and are really looking forward to the challenge they bring. As shown in their previous game, they are a top side and belong in the Premiership. We are expecting another physical battle and one we will try to meet head on.”
Glasgow Hawks v Edinburgh Academical FC – Balgray, KO 3pm
Last weekend both Hawks and Accies suffered defeat, so Saturday will see both vying to return to winning ways.
Reflecting on the action so far this season, Accies head coach Iain Berthinussen said: “The season so far has been a real mix for us, winning two and narrowly losing two. As a club we have used over 30 players in our first four games, and this is testament to the depth we have as a club.
“However, we need to create some consistent performances and selection throughout all our teams, and this will start to see us get back to winning ways.”
Accies certainly know what is at stake this weekend, with Iain adding: “Looking ahead to this weekend versus Glasgow Hawks there are areas of our game we need to put pressure on ourselves as a group to be better which will allow us to continue to put pressure on the opposition. Games are coming thick and fast, and we must get back to winning ways this weekend.”
Selkirk v Musselburgh –Philiphaugh, KO 3pm
This weekend’s game between Selkirk and Musselburgh could prove to be a big one in the league with their being enough in it to help Selkirk overtake Musselburgh in the standings, or to help Musselburgh break into the top half of the table.
Both teams have only taken one win in the fixtures so far, with Musselburgh’s first coming last weekend in a close encounter on the road to Jed-Forest (31-40).
Michael Badenhorst could be a big threat for Selkirk after he scored a hattrick of tries last weekend at Riverside Park.
Selkirk have been growing into the season week on week and gave Marr a good run for their money last weekend with a spirited second-half performance giving them a much-needed try-bonus point.
Speaking to scottishrugby.org, Selkirk Head Coach Gordon Henderson said: “We’ve had four really tough games to start off the season, but we have been making slight improvements in each game, especially the last two weeks. We got a really good win over Jed, scoring ten good tries so our attack is really starting to develop.
“We need to work on our defence a little bit, but I was pleased with how we performed defensively last week. Last Saturday against Marr, being away from home, not many teams will score four tries against them at Fullerton, but we did that. I was really pleased with the amount of time we had possession in the red zone, so we came away with a lot of positives.
“We’re working really hard at training to bring all of that together, and that’s going to be really important this weekend.
“Every game seems to come round really quickly. This could be our biggest game of the season. We have a real opportunity against Musselburgh to put in an 80-minute performance, get our attacking and defensive shapes operating well. If we can get that right, we have a good chance of getting a win.
“We have some key players coming back from injury so there is real strength and depth to the squad this week, so I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. Whilst it’s hard to make those calls it’s really pleasing having a big squad to select from.”
Heriot’s Blues v Jed-Forest – Goldenacre, KO 3pm
Heriot’s Blues play host as they welcome Jed-Forest to Goldenacre on Saturday.
This weekend will give the Blue’s a chance to get back on form, whilst Jed will seek this as an opportunity to earn their first win of the season.
Despite a disappointing 46-5 loss to Currie last weekend, Blues Head Coach Phil Smith has been pleased with his squad’s performance so far this season, saying: “The season has started much stronger than anticipated with two bonus point wins against teams who were both in play-offs last year. We also gained a bonus point draw versus Kelso before we then suffered a disappointing defeat versus Currie.
“A number of new young players have been exposed to this level of competition so that’s a big positive and we go into the rest of the season.”
Hawick v Currie Chieftains – Mansfield Park, KO 3pm
It’s a repeat of the 2022/23 season Final as Hawick host Currie Chieftains at Mansfield. With both sides playing very well so far this season, you can expect this to be a thrilling and physical battle.
Last weekend Hawick travelled to Edinburgh to take on Accies in what felt like a repeat of last season’s play-off fixture between the two sides with how close the final result was. At half-time, Hawick led by just three points (5-8) thanks to an early penalty from Kirk Ford, and at full-time only five points separated the sides (15-20).
Currie are on fine form and are looking to add a fifth consecutive win, having gone undefeated in the last four rounds.
Last weekend the Chieftains enjoyed comprehensive win over Heriot’s (46-5) with seven tries scored through Sam Cardosi, Ali McCallum (2), Graeme Carson, Roy Vucago, DJ Innes and Cameron Lessels.
National Division 1
National 1 kickstarts on Friday under the lights at Anniesland with a Glasgow derby between GHK and Glasgow Accies. Kick-off is 7.30pm.
On Saturday we have another derby, this time between Melrose and Gala.
After their strong 13-35 win on the road to Dundee last weekend, Ayr will host Watsonians on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Highland travel to Biggar and GHA welcome Dundee to Braidholm.
All Saturday fixtures kick-off at 3pm.