BT Premiership Preview: High flyers Hawks travel to Ayr

On Saturday Ayr welcome Glasgow Hawks to Millbrae as the city squad go on the hunt for their sixth consecutive win (kick-off 3pm).

Hawks’ performances this season have been consistent regardless of location – in fact their only defeat so far was at home to Melrose 17-37, and have left every away fixture with bonus point victories.

Despite this, Ayr will not make this away game for Hawks an easy one, with the Millbrae men returning to winning ways against Stirling County (46-22) last weekend.

Considering Ayr narrowly lost out to Heriot’s in the title play-offs last season, they will be gunning to reach the finals once again, while Hawks who finished sixth will want to extend their recent run of form.

Ayr Head Coach Calum Forrester, said: “Last week was the reaction that we were looking for following our defeat at Boroughmuir and we will need to raise our game again against a well-drilled Hawks side.”

To help him do so, Forrester welcomes Glasgow Warrior Djustice Sears-Duru in the front row and is glad to see the return of Rob McAlpine to the engine room following his debut for the Warriors last weekend.

Archie Russell returns to outside centre in the back line and Ross Curle moves to stand-off in the backline.

Forrester added: “Hawks have played some outstanding rugby so far this season and will come to Millbrae full of confidence following recent results.

The players are looking forward to the challenge of a cracking West coast derby.”

Although they have been in good form of recent, Hawks will also want to improve on last season’s results against Ayr as they defeated Hawks both at home and away.

Finlay Gillies, Hawks Head Coach, welcomes Grayson Hart, Junior Bulumakau and Peter Murchie from Glasgow Warriors to his squad this week – all three start and Gillies is hoping they can have a positive impact.

Gillies said: “This is an incredibly exciting encounter for us as we get to challenge ourselves against an excellent Ayr team.

Ayr pose a physical challenge like no other team in the league so we hope to match them here and provide some ball to our excellent backline.”

Saturday’s match is therefore likely to be a clash of wills as both teams hope to overpower the other, especially as Ayr are currently third on 28 points behind Hawks (first) and Melrose (second) who are both on 30 points.

Elsewhere, Currie welcome Boroughmuir as they battle it out to overtake the other as they both sit on 13 points and, after losing to Hawick, Currie Head Coach Ben Cairns hopes his side’s recent improvements will pay off in this Edinburgh derby.

Heriots travel to the Borders to take on Melrose, who will aim for the win to strengthen their position at the top, but Phil Smith says his defending champions are desperate to push towards a play-off spot despite playing away from home.

Melrose however will be looking to put on a show for all in attendance as they host a family day with the Scotland 7s squad, who will also lead a training session with the club’s youth teams.

Borders’ teams Gala and Hawick meet at Netherdale with Hawick looking to build on last week’s 27-26 win over Currie to try and pull away from the bottom of the league and avoid relegation.

Gala Head Coach, Chris Dalgleish, hopes his team re-focus themselves following their 38-19 defeat away to Heriot’s last weekend as he knows Hawick will offer them a stern test, which will require them to lift their levels.   

Stirling County welcome Edinburgh-based Watsonians who will try to retain their position with an away win at Bridgehaugh to fend off teams below them who are fighting for a top four spot.

Currie v Boroughmuir will be live-tweeted from @Scotlandteam with match build-up from 2pm.

Clubs from across BT National Leagues 1,2 and 3 will also continue their season on Saturday. For a full list of fixtures, visit scottishrugby.org.

BT Premiership Round Eight (Saturday 15 October)

Ayr v Glasgow Hawks, Millbrae, 3pm

Ayr: Grant Anderson CAPTAIN; Richard Dalgleish, Archie Russell, Stafford McDowall, Craig Gossman; Ross Curle, David Armstrong; Djustice Sears-Duru, David Young, Steven Longwell, Robert McAlpine, Scott Sutherland, George Hunter, Will Bordill, Blair Macpherson. Replacements: Robbie Smith, Craig Stevenson, Ruaridh Mackenzie, Paddy Dewhirst, Jamie Bove. 

Hawks: Peter Murchie; Junior Bulumakau, Bobbie Beattie, Brendan McGroarty, Kerr Gossman; George Horne, Grayson Hart; Steven Findlay, Scott Rodgers, Gary Strain, Andy Linton, Andrew Kirkland, Andrew Redmayne, Grant Stewart, Tommy Spinks CAPTAIN. Replacements: Paul Cairncross, Brendan Cullinane, Sam Thompson, Jack Steele, David Milne.   

Currie v Boroughmuir, Malleny Park, 3pm

Currie: Harvey Elms; Ben Robbins, Robbie Nelson, Cameron Hutchison, Cameron Gray; Jamie Forbes, Richard Sneddon; John Cox, Fergus Scott, Graeme Carson, Hamish Bain, Stephen Ainslie, Rhys Davies, Thomas Gordon, Ross Weston CAPTAIN. Replacements: AP McWilliam, Jarrod Firth, Lue Crosbie, Matt McPhillips, Charlie Shiel.

Boroughmuir: Dougie Steele; Jordan Edmunds, Alex Cox, Greg Cannie, Grant McConnell; Chris Laidlaw, Sam Johnson; Ross Dunbar, Stuart Clark, Dan Winning, Jamie Scott, Jamie Ure, Andrew Rose, Matt Walker, Craig Keddie. Replacements: Dale Robertson, Matt Tweddle, Ronan Kerr, Mark Hare. 

Melrose v Heriots, Greenyards, 3pm

Melrose: Craig Jackson; Ross McCann, George Taylor, Richard Taylor, Nyal Godsmark; Jason Baggott, Murdo McAndrew; Jamie Bhatti, Russell Anderson, Nick Beavon, James Head, Ruaridh Knott, Neil Irvine Hess, Grant Runciman, Ian Moody. Replacements: Richard Ferguson, Ruairi McLeod, Ali Grieve, David Colvine, Gavin Wood.  

Heriots: Gavin Parker; Harry Boisseau, Charlie Simpson, John Semple CAPTAIN, John Rae; Alex Hagart, Andrew Simmers; Martin Bouab, Michael Liness, Struan Cessford, Callum Marshall, Clarke Smith, Michael Maltman, Jack McLean, Struan Dewar. Replacements: George Turner, Rhuaridh Mitchell, Russell Nimmo, Alex Ball, Donald Crawford. 

Gala v Hawick, Netherdale, 3pm

Gala: Graham Speirs CAPTAIN; Ross Combe, Lewis Berg, Paul Hendry, Craig Robertson; Gregor Hunter, Connor Adams; Chris Keen, Matt Carryer, Dean Brooker, Rob Louw, Chris Weir, Gary Adams, Stevie Cairns, Harry Borthwick. Replacements: Curtis Reynolds, Richie Todd, Cammy Pate, Alan Emond, Craig Dods. 

Hawick: Ali Weir; Neil McColm, Gary Johnstone, Kyle Brunton, Wesley Hamilton; Lee Armstrong, Bruce Campbell; Matt Landels, Fraser Renwick, Callum Mackintosh, Michael Robertson, Bruce McNeil CAPTAIN, Ross Gibson, Stuart Graham, Keith Davis. Replacements: Terry Skeet, Dylan Harlen, Dalton Redpath, Andrew Horne, Neil Renwick.

Stirling County v Watsonians, Bridgehaugh Park, 3pm    

Stirling County: Jonny Hope CAPTAIN; Craig Pringle, Jake Cresswell, Fraser Lyle, Ryan Elliston; Ross Jones, Nemia Kenatale; Mike MacDonald, Reyner Kennedy, Adam Nicol, Hamilton Burr, Callum Hunter-Hill CAPTAIN, Ruairidh Leishman, Struan Robertson, Harry Henderson. Replacements: Matt Emmison, Colin Hutton, Shaun MacDonald, Colin Turnbull, Matt Lamb. 

Watsonians: Andrew Chalmers; Max McFarland, DJ Innes, Tom Hart, Keith Young; Ewan Scott, Reiss Cullen; Martin Christie CAPTAIN, Sean Crombie, Nathan Borel, Matt Poole, Craig Borthwick, Diarmaid Dee, Angus Duckett, Euan Dods. Replacements: Darren Miller, Callum Eastwood, Fraser Morrison, Euan McKirdy, Mark Bertram.