Rbs Premier 1 Preview: Round Seven

With only five more Saturdays to go until the league split, the teams of RBS Premier 1 are all looking to assure their place in the top eight.

The borderline teams at this stage all go head-to-head, with Stirling County (8th) taking on Accies (9th) at Bridgehaugh, Heriot’s (10th) and Ayr (5th) going head-to-head at Goldenacre and Aberdeen Grammar (7th) hosting Hawks (11th).

For the winners, it’s one step closer to a place in RBS Premier A.

Elsewhere league leaders Melrose travel to Dundee for what is expected to be a tough encounter, while a Border and Edinburgh derby take place at Mansfield Park and Meggetland respectively. Hawick in their continued pursuit for a win host Gala and Boroughmuir take on Currie.

With only five more Saturdays to go until the league split, the teams of RBS Premier 1 are all looking to assure their place in the top eight.

The borderline teams at this stage all go head-to-head, with Stirling County (8th) taking on Accies (9th) at Bridgehaugh, Heriot’s (10th) and Ayr (5th) going head-to-head at Goldenacre and Aberdeen Grammar (7th) hosting Hawks (11th).

For the winners, it’s one step closer to a place in RBS Premier A.

Elsewhere league leaders Melrose travel to Dundee for what is expected to be a tough encounter, while a Border and Edinburgh derby take place at Mansfield Park and Meggetland respectively. Hawick in their continued pursuit for a win host Gala and Boroughmuir take on Currie. 

Image courtesy of Alistair Cunningham and Stirling County RFC

Aberdeen Grammar v Glasgow Hawks, Rubislaw, 3pm

With both these teams suffering a loss last weekend, they will be looking to put in better performances and get a much needed win to assure safety in the top eight.

Aberdeen Grammar head coach, Alex Duncan, said: “It’s another tough game this week as we welcome a Glasgow Hawks side still looking to kick start their season.

“We failed to impose our game plan last week and have worked hard to address the missing aspects in training.

“The players have no shortage of effort, attitude and determination and are very keen to deliver a match winning performance at Rubislaw on Saturday.”

Glasgow Hawks head coach, Peter Wright, said: “It’s another tough game on the road this weekend, but after a much-improved performance against Ayr last week the players have trained well and are looking forward to the challenge against Grammar.”

Aberdeen Grammar team: Steven Aitken; Callum Anderson, Will Wardlaw, Warwick Percival, Erland Oag; Rob Aloe (vice-captain), Morgan Ward; Nicki Fraser, Sean O’Connor, Richard Allen, Ed Nimmons, Murray Douglas (captain), Sandy Warnock, Tony McGuiness, Greig Ryan.
Replacements: Matt Dixon, Callum McConnachie, Rab Barrie, Laurie Seydak, Fraser Lyle.

Glasgow Hawks team: Peter Jericevich; Craig Gossman, David McCall, Gavin McDonald, Kerr Gossman; Mike Martin, Kris Hamilton; Steven Findlay, Jack MacFarlane, John Lohoar, Rory McKay, Nick Campbell, Steven Lecky, Bart Karalus, Andrea Barbieri.
Replacements: Scott Cameron, Paul Henderson, Rory Hamilton, Paddt Robinson, Tom Steven.  

Stirling County v Edinburgh Accies, Bridgehaugh, 3pm  

This encounter is likely to be tense. Both teams have 12 points and are sitting in eighth and ninth respectively. The winning team will keep themselves on the threshold of RBS Premier A, while the loser will face increased pressure to make the split as it quickly draws nearer. Bengi Barsanti earns promotion to the County starting XV after a series of strong performances off the bench, while Simon Cross recruits Matt Coupar on the wing to provide some added flair.

Stirling County head coach, Eddie Pollock, said: “A good win at home last week only matters if we back it up with another strong performance at home on Saturday. Every game is a cup final now!”

Edinburgh Accies head coach, Simon Cross, said: “We had a decent win last week, born from some excellent defensive work.

“I’m looking for the same attitude again against a much more physical side.

“Our attack needs to step up in terms of accuracy and potency; I’m hoping that Matt Coupar’s introduction can spark that.”

Stirling County team: Peter Murchie; Graeme Lindsay, Danny Gilmour, Brian Archibald, Ross Aitken; Stuart Edwards, Sean Kennedy; Mike McDonald, Alex Moffat (captain), Gary Mountford, Craig Deacons, Robert McAlpine, Tim Clarke, Robbie Boswell, Bengi Barsanti.
Replacements: Reynor Kennedy, Steven Raby, Struan Robertson, Steve Swindall, David Maw.

Edinburgh Accies team: Jamie Sole; Matt Coupar, Ross Browne, Iain Berthinussen, Jake Knight; Ruaridh Bonner, Alex Black; Duncan MacLeod, Michael Liness, Kenny Blyth, Greg Campbell, Angus Graham, Dan Teague (captain), Jamie Taggart, Tom Drennan.
Replacements: Josh Hitchins, Chris Murray, Nathan Pike, Stuart Evans, Mike Campbell. 

Heriot’s v Ayr, Goldenacre, 3pm 

Heriot’s so far have struggled to get good results this season and it won’t be made easier this weekend as they host Ayr at Goldenacre. A win is essential to climb the table and get away from the bottom half of the league. Ayr welcome back influential lock, Scott Sutherland and introduce flyer Murray Beckwith to the bench. 

Heriot’s head coaches, Mark Appleson and Graham Marshall, said: “As the season draws on it’s increasingly important to stay within the top eight and we are looking to bounce back with a win against Ayr.

“Ayr always present a tough challenge, however, we feel ready for whatever they will bring.”

Ayr head coach, Kenny Murray, said: “We’re looking forward to our visit to Heriot’s as they play an open, attractive style of rugby and it always makes for a good game.

“Although they are in the danger zone they are only three points behind seventh place, so we will have to be at our best to get a result.

“Last week's win against Hawks was achieved with significant endeavour and resolve as both sides tried to play rugby in dreadful conditions.

“Our team is very aware of the need to perform each week in what is a fascinating league competition this season. The spirit and determination in the squad has been excellent at training and hopefully this will manifest itself with a robust display on Saturday.”

Heriot’s team: Colin Goudie; Andy Scott, Cameron Ferguson, Calum Mark, Max Learmouth; Michael Goldie, Graham Wilson; Alan Dymock, Kevin Bryce, Gavin Cameron, Ross Martin, CJ Osazuwa, Jason Hill, Matt Reid, Struan Dewar.
Replacements: Stuart Mustard, JP Ward, Robin Cessford, Sam Hidalgo Clyne, Jordy Kohn.

Ayr team: Grant Anderson; Steven Manning, Ross Curle, Mark Stewart, Sylvian Diez; Robbie Ferguson, AJ MacFarlane; Andrew Kelly, Hayden Wisnewski, Craig Davidson, Josh Dunning, Colin White, John Willis, Andy Dunlop, Graham Fisken.
Replacements: Andrew MacFarlane, Stuart Fenwick, Scott Sutherland, Cammy Taylor, Murray Beckwith. 

Hawick v Gala, Mansfield Park, 3pm 

It doesn’t get easier for Hawick, still without a win, as they face Gala who currently sit in second place in RBS Premier 1. However being a Border derby and Hawick the hosts they’ll be fired up to challenge a rampaging Gala outfit.

Hawick team: Neil McColm; Graeme Anderson, Gary Johnstone, Graham Hogg, Steven Anderson; Lee Armstrong, Greg Cottrell; Rory Sutherland, Lindsey Gibson, Sean Linton, Keiran Willison, Michael Robertson, Nick MacTaggart, Keith Davis, Bruce McNeil (captain).
Replacements: Hue Scammell, Neil Renwick, Danny Landels, Barrie Keown, Andrew Turnbull.

Gala team: Bryce Turner; Shaun Law, Chris Auld, Alan Emond, Craig Robertson; Lee Millar, George Graham; Lewis Bertram, Russell Anderson, Ewan McQuillin, Chris Weir, Opeta Palepoi, Garry Graham, Gary Lowrie, Eun Dodds.
Replacements: Paul Stewart, Craig Keddie, David Marshall, Andy McLean, Craig Borthwick.

Boroughmuir v Currie, Meggetland, 3pm 

Both teams have started their 2011/12 campaign with a trio of victories and a trio of defeats and a single bonus point sets them apart. Boroughmuir sit in fourth while Currie are at sixth.

Boroughmuir head coach, Fergus Pringle, said: “This is another big game for us. Currie has been going well over the last couple of weeks, but if we continue to perform to the level we did last week at Melrose the supporters are going to enjoy a cracking game.

“The squad is looking forward to taking on our Edinburgh neighbours.”

Currie head coach, Ally Donaldson, said: “Boroughmuir gave a very good account of themselves at Melrose last weekend and were a late kick away from winning. That sums up the challenge which lies ahead.

“We were disappointed with a number of aspects of our performance against Heriot’s and have worked hard to rectify them this week.

“Another local derby, another big match.”

Boroughmuir team: Sep Visser; Ross Bradford, Harry Leonard, Stephen Wilson, Jordan Webster; Ally Warnock, Sam Johnson; Nick Fraser, Sean Crombie, Bryce Blair, Matt Harvey, Ali Davidson, Jamie Swanson, Andrew Rose, Iain Moody.
Replacements: Jonny Latta, Robin Hislop, Greg Scott, Neil Rodger, Graeme Blackhall.

Currie team: Jamie Forbes; Barry Mansfield, Douglas Fife, Andy MacMahon, Alan Whittingham; Andrew Binikos, Richard Sneddon; John Cox, Fergus Scott, Colin Phillips, Adam Best, Gary Temple, Steve Burton, Mike Entwhistle, Ross Weston.
Replacements: Billy Elmslie, Ross Merrilees, Simon Marcell, Mark Cairns, Iain Downie. 

Dundee HSFP v Melrose, Mayfield, 3pm 

This match is set to be a very tough encounter for both teams. Melrose are well aware they need to improve after their performance last weekend, while Dundee will want to use the home advantage to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at Netherdale. Dundee welcome Blue Bull and South Africa under-20 winger, Tom Seabala to the fold (as part of their exchange programme with the SARU) while Melrose welcome Scott Wight back at stand-off, as he is made available by Glasgow Warriors.

Dundee HSFP head coach, Ian Rankin, said: “Accuracy in decision making when the heat is turned up seems to affect players at all levels, and with a sufficient amount of possession and territory last week we fell seven points short of a very well drilled and committed Gala side.

“Champions Melrose are defending their title in a determined manner and although not at their best some weeks they are a squad who have a winning habit and are the bench mark for Scottish clubs on and off the pitch.”

Melrose head coach, Craig Chalmers, said: “After a below average performance last weekend against Boroughmuir, we realise as a squad that there will need to be huge improvements this weekend if we are to win at Dundee.

“Dundee are very strong up front and have a number of dangerous runners in the backs. They will be looking to get back on track after their defeat last week at Gala.  This will be our biggest test so far this season and the players are looking forward to the challenge.”

Dundee HSFP team: Cameron Wyper; James Fleming, Robbie Lavery, Harry Duthie, Jack Steele; Cam Brown, Andy Dymock; Neil Dymock (captain), Simon Forrest, Alan Brown, Richard Hawkins, Andy Linton, Chris Cumming, Jamie Morrison, Danny Levison.
Replacements: Darell Russell, Gavin Robertson, Richie McIver, Andy McLean, Tom Seabala.

Melrose team: Fraser Thomson; Nick McGrath, Jamie Murray, Cameron Murray, Joe Helps; Scott Wight, Bruce Colvine; Chris Keen, Richard Ferguson, Nick Beavon, Gary Elder, Ross Miller, John Dalziel, Grant Runciman, Graham Dodds (captain).
Replacements: Wayne Mitchell, Keiran Cooney, Peter Eccles, Scott McCormick, Andrew Skeen.