Men’s Premiership & National 1 Preview | Round 8
We now enter Round 8 of the Men’s Premiership and National 1 league. Catch up on last weekend’s action and take a look at how tomorrow’s fixtures shape up in our preview.
Currie Chieftains v Kelso – Malleny Park, KO 3pm
Currie Chieftains will host Kelso at Malleny Park on Saturday as they look to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Marr.
Currie were up four points up at half-time and looked confident as they struck in the early minutes of the second half with a try from Ali Bain. But the Chieftains were under a lot of pressure from Marr. With a yellow card shown to Roy Vucago, Marr were able to capitalise on the deficit.
Despite a spirited rally in the dying minutes of the game, it wasn’t enough for Currie and the final score was concluded 34-28, giving them a losing and try-bonus point to take home.
Speaking to Scottish Rugby about their performance last week, Chieftains Head Coach, Mark Cairns said: “We played well for much of the match last week at Marr but fell off for about 20 minutes and were punished. After two away defeats on the bounce to Hawick and Marr, we are looking to get back on track with a big performance at home to Kelso.
“It’s going to be a tough physical battle which will be probably be decided in the forwards. Kelso will be looking to kick on after turning over Accies last week so we will need to be at our best.”
There are a handful of changes to the starting side, with Carins explaining: “Thomas Jeffrey and Roy Vucago start this week in the pack and Kyle Steel comes into the squad. There are a few changes in the backs due to injuries picked up by Cammy Grey and James McCaig last week. Euan Crombie starts at fullback, Alex Harley at centre, Matthew Bradshaw on the left wing and Matthew Laidlaw joins the bench.”
Last weekend Kelso stormed their way to success with fantastic second-half performance at home against Edinburgh Accies. The Borders side secured themselves a try-bonus point win with scores from Euan Knox, Keith Melbourne and Archie Barbour, with Bruce McNeil bagging a brace.
Looking ahead to this weekend, McNeil, Kelso’s regular starting Number 8 and club coach said: “Fingers crossed the game goes ahead tomorrow given the weather conditions. We’re looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead, we know Currie are going to bring it.
“We’ve got a few changes in our squad this weekend. It’s been pretty relentlessness having games without any breaks. Player welfare is paramount for us, and a lot of our guys have played a lot of rugby, so we’ve been forced into given them recovery time while trying to put a strong team out against a formidable Currie team.”
Musselburgh v Glasgow Hawks – Stoneyhill, KO 3pm
Musselburgh are back at home this weekend as they welcome Glasgow Hawks to Stoneyhill.
Despite losing to Hawick last weekend, Musselburgh should be more than pleased with the challenge and fight they brought to Mansfield Park. Many might have thought a Hawick win was inevitable, but Musselburgh proved it couldn’t be done without working for it.
The East Lothian outfit were up 10-20 at the half-time whistle. Whilst the hosts came back out in the second half with a fight, the same could absolutely be said for Musselburgh. In the final moments of the game, Musselburgh were on for another score to win the game, until Hawick’s Jae Linton muscled his way through the attack with a tackle to help secure a turnover, concluding the game.
After Hawks’ Round 6’s fixture against Currie was postponed due to the weather waterlogging Malleny Park, the Glasgow side were pleased to come back in Round 7 last weekend with a 57-19 win at home to Jed-Forest.
This weekend brings a new challenge for both sides. A try-bonus win could advance Musselburgh into fourth place in the league standings, whilst Hawks could climb to seventh place should they get the better of Burgh.
Looking ahead to this weekend, Andrew Clark, Musselburgh Assistant Coach said: “We know that Hawks will bring an exciting brand of rugby to Stoneyhill this Saturday, and we look forward to the challenge that will present.
“There have been some tough decisions with regards to selection this week, but we see that as a huge positive as we have great competition in training with players pushing each other on.
“Another positive this weekend is the return of Michael Maltman. Michael has been working so hard in the gym during his recovery, so I’m pleased for him that he is taking the field again. I’m sure Saturday will be a real exciting game for all involved.”
Selkirk v Edinburgh Academical FC – Philiphaugh, KO 3pm
Edinburgh Accies are back on the road as they travel to the Borders to face Selkirk.
Both Selkirk and Accies were faced with defeats last weekend, so this is a chance both will relish to bounce back.
For Selkirk, at half-time they were up by two points at half-time against the Blues, but two converted tries from the visitors in the second half to Selkirk’s one penalty saw the victory land in Heriot’s favour.
Reflecting on last weekend and looking ahead to tomorrow’s challenge, Selkirk Head Coach Gordon Henderson said: “We were disappointed with last week’s game. There were a few occasions where we just weren’t able to get over the line.
“We’re really looking forward to this weekend against Accies, especially as it’s another home game for us. It’s going to be a tough game because we know after last week’s defeat to Kelso, they will be looking to get points on the road.
“But we are desperate for a home win. We have been training really hard this week on working on our attacking opportunities, it’s important that on game day we take them. Conditions might determine what kind of game we play, we don’t really want an arm wrestle but hopefully this weekend we can capitalise on the opportunities and get four or five points, which would be great for our confidence and believe going forward.”
Despite the disappointment of last weekend’s loss to Kelso, Accies are not deterred and instead feel ready to push for more as their Head Coach, Iain Berthinussen said: “Recent results and performances have not going our way but it has been great to test ourselves as coaches and see our players step up and take responsibility whilst striving to be better.
“We get to test ourselves against Selkirk away this weekend and I can’t wait to see the growth this team.”
Hawick v Heriot’s Blues – Mansfield Park, KO 3pm
Just two points separate Hawick and Heriot’s in the table standings as we approach Round 8, and the win could prove to be an important victory for either side as we near the second half of the season.
Last weekends near defeat to Musselburgh was described by Hawick’s Head Coach, Matty Douglas, as a ‘wake-up call’.
Captain Shawn Muir and centre, Andrew Mitchell were the only two to score tries against Musselburgh, whilst Kirk Ford worked hard in windy conditions to knock one conversion and five penalties across the sticks.
The Green Machine will no doubt have greased the cogs and tightened the springs as they welcome Heriot’s to Mansfield this Saturday.
Heriot’s Blues on the other hand, left the Borders with five points last weekend.
Looking ahead to taking on the Hawick, Blues’ Head Coach, Phil Smith said: “This is game three of our five back-to-back, and none come any harder than a trip to the reigning champions. We feel we are playing well and hope to give a good account of where we are.”
Jed-Forest v Marr – Riverside Park, KO 3pm
Our final match in the Premiership this weekend sees Marr travel from the West coast to the Borders to face Jed-Forest.
Marr’s form continues to impress as they secured a sixth win from seven games last weekend in a challenging test at home over Currie Chieftains.
In the first half, Marr were behind by four points but rallied in the final forty to secure a try-bonus point win with scores from Ali Rogers, Ben Johnston, Fraser Grant, Scott Bickerstaff and Robbie Baird.
Although Jed have yet to win a game, Marr’s Head Coach Kenny Diffenthal is not complacent, saying: “This week going to Jed will be very tough as it’s a tough place to go. We have worked hard this week in preparation for a physical battle and boys are ready for the challenge. There is no place for complacency as we need to be at our best.
“Jed will be determined to put in a performance against as they always do, and we are going there knowing it’s a massive challenge.”
It’s no doubt going to be a tough contest for Jed going up against the Troon outfit on Saturday. Recent scores have probably been testament to injuries picked up by players in recent weeks, making selection more difficult to navigate.
But Jed continue to fight and this weekend will be no different.
National Division 1
Just three fixtures are currently scheduled to take place this weekend in National 1.
Watsonian kick things off at Myreside as they take on Biggar at 2pm.
Glasgow Accies host Gala at Anniesland, with kick-off at 3pm.
And it’s a Glasgow derby between GHA and GHK at Braidholm. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Dundee versus Melrose and Ayr versus Highland have been postponed due to the extreme weather and travel conditions.