Men’s Premiership & National 1 Preview | Round 9
Find out everything you need to know about Round 9 of the Men's Premiership and National Division 1.
Edinburgh Academical v Currie Chieftains – Raeburn Place, KO 3pm
Kicking things off, Edinburgh Accies host Currie Chieftains at Raeburn Place tomorrow.
Accies versus Currie has become something of an epic battle in the last few years, so there will be an expectation for more of the same excitement this time round.
Last weekend, both sides secured wins. Accies walked away from the Borders with a try-bonus point win over Selkirk, with five tries scored through Ritchie, Chalmers (2) and McNeil (2).
After two weeks on the road, Accies return home and will hope to right some wrongs in terms of their home-form, after suffering two narrow losses on the hallowed grounds of Raeburn Place to both Marr and Hawick. A win for Accies could see them leapfrog Currie in the table standings.
Speaking to scottishrugby.org, Accies Head Coach, Iain Berthinussen said: “This week we welcome Currie to Raeburn Place, a team we have had some great fixtures against over the past few seasons. They have shown some real consistency in selection, and we understand the challenge that awaits.
“However, we need to get back to winning ways at Raeburn Place and continue to develop as a group with the challenges we are facing at present.
“Finally, Saturday marks Jamie Sole’s 200th game for Edinburgh Accies, a fantastic achievement from a man who I have seen grow from a young full back to one of the best back rows in the league. Jamie continues to drive the standards week in week out and give an immense contribution to this fantastic club.”
Currie’s emphatic second-half performance saw them enjoy a 48-13 win over Kelso last Saturday, setting the Chieftains up with confidence this week. Stand-off Jamie Forbes impressed with the boot, scoring five conversions and a penalty.
Reflecting on last weekend’s game, Chieftains Head Coach, Mark Cairns said: “Last week was a tough match and Kelso were in the fight up until half time when we produced an excellent 15 minutes of attacking rugby to put the game away.
“The challenge this week is to produce that level of performance for a more sustained period. It’s a big derby match that was won by Accies with the last kick of the game last season. I can’t think of a more important match on this Saturday!”
The Chieftains have a handful of changes to the squad, with Cairns adding: “In the forwards, Ryan Stewart and Kyle Steel start with Ali Bain moving to second row. Sam Leto is available this week so replaces the unavailable Jamie Forbes at stand-off. James McCaig is back from injury and starts on the wing.”
Glasgow Hawks v Heriot’s Blues – Balgray, KO 3pm
It’s West versus East at Balgray as Heriot’s Blues travel to Glasgow Hawks.
Last weekend, Heriot’s trip to take on the champions, Hawick, proved to be a confidence booster for Phil Smith’s youthful side, despite losing 45-33.
“The key to this weekend is to back up last week’s performance against Hawick”, said Smith.
“Hawks will provide a fairly similar challenge in that they have a strong set piece and like to throw the ball about, let’s just hope the rain stays away so both teams get the opportunity to do so.
“We have a fairly settled squad with only Angus Munro and Keir Singleton coming into the squad replacing Billy Dineen and Rory Fraser.”
For Hawks, last weekend resulted in a high-scoring draw on the road to Musselburgh. Hawks drew the game in the dying moments of the game when Ryan Howie darted across the whitewash from close range, but unfortunately Gavin Cruickshanks’ went wide.
This weekend will give Hawks an opportunity to jump back on the winning-wagon, if they can overcome fourth placed Heriot’s Blues.
Marr v Musselburgh – Fullerton Park, KO 3pm
This weekend Marr host Musselburgh at Fullerton Park as they look to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Although Marr took a 31-41 win over Jed-Forest last weekend, as Head Coach, Kenny Diffenthal predicted last weekend, it was a win that wouldn’t come without hard work.
“Last week was tough,” said Diffenthal.
“Jed put us under all sorts of pressure but I’m glad the boys dug deep and pulled off a win.
“This week Musselburgh will be a really tough challenge. They have been going well and look to play some nice stuff. We have worked hard this week on our accuracy, so it needs to show Saturday.”
Musselburgh have been on a strong upward trajectory over the last few weeks, and last week were stumped in a draw by Hawks.
Reflecting on last weekend’s performance against Hawks, Musselburgh’s Michael Maltman said: “This is a really different squad. Two years ago, we would have lost to a side like that. It’s good that the boys have actually stuck in. It’s a test of strength that the boys are disheartened by a draw, whereas before we would grab points like that, but now we know we are better than that.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s challenge against the league leaders, Michael added: “Fullerton suits us, they have a tighter pitch but we’ve had to really focus this week as we look to put in an 80-minute performance.”
Kelso v Jed-Forest – Poynder Park, KO 3pm
Our first Borders derby of the weekend sees Kelso host Jed-Forest at Poynder Park.
Despite putting up a great fight in the first half against Currie last weekend, Kelso struggled in the final 40 to come back into the game and suffered as a result.
Player and Coach, Bruce McNeil said: “It was a tough one last weekend but it’s time for us to look forward to this weekend. It’s always enjoyable playing against Jed-Forest as it’s always a battle.
“They’re scoring a lot of tries, and that’s something we’re aware of and know if we’re not watertight in defence they will hurt us.
“They’re a very good team, and they’re not far away from getting their first win, we just hope it’s not against us.”
Whilst Jed continue to hunt for their first win, but with that their determination and fight if ever present.
Whilst they were defeated on the scoreboard, Jed scored four tries to Marr’s three last weekend, proving they have the skills to breakdown some of the best defence in the league.
Spectators should expect this to be an exciting contest.
Hawick v Selkirk – Mansfield Park, KO 3pm
In our second Borders derby of the weekend, we return to Mansfield Park where Hawick host Selkirk.
Last weekend, Selkirk delivered a fantastic second-half performance against Accies. The hosts went down 0-20 in the opening 40 and brought the scoreline back to 25-32 by full-time.
For Hawick, last weekend saw them add a seventh win to the table, taking them to within three points of top of the table Marr.
Hawick’s only blip on their record last season was their Round 1 draw at home against Selkirk, so despite the record as it stands, Hawick certainly won’t be taking their visitors lightly this weekend.
National Division 1
Kicking things off, Biggar host GHA as they look for their first win of the season, whilst GHK host Ayr.
In the Borders, Melrose host Watsonians at the Greenyards and Gala welcome Dundee to Netherdale.
And finally, it’s a battle for second place as Highland host Glasgow Accies on Saturday.
All five fixtures kick off at 3pm.