BT Cup PREVIEW | Stirling County host buoyant Hawick in semis

Stirling County welcome Hawick to Bridgehaugh this Saturday (31 March, kick-off 3pm) as both teams vie for a place in the BT Cup final at BT Murrayfield (Saturday 28 April).

The teams faced stern challenges in the quarter-finals to get this far with Stirling seeing off BT National 1 high-flyers, Edinburgh Accies, in a close encounter, 22-15, and Hawick overcoming defending BT Premiership champions Ayr, 20-13.

A win tomorrow would see Stirling improve on last season’s best of a semi-final tie while Hawick will be in buoyant mood after completing a remarkable league comeback to avoid relegation.

Head Coach of Stirling County Peter Jericevich said: “The prospect of playing at BT Murrayfield in front of a big crowd has really pushed the team on in training the last couple of weeks and we have prepared the best we can for our proud opponents from Hawick, who had a strong finish to the league season.

Big game players step up on the big occasions so we are expecting some fine individual performances that will allow us to deliver as a team on Saturday.”

Glasgow Warriors’ Niko Matawalu coming into the wing is the headline change for County with club-mate Chris Fusaro, an assistant coach at Stirling County, on the bench.

Remy Chies and Gary Holburn return to the front row with Ruairidh Leishman and Ross Curle returning from Scotland Club XV duty and Peter Jericevich back in the side after coaching with Scotland Women.

Hawick’s last match was a thumping victory over Borders rivals, Melrose, in the BT Premiership and they will be hoping to carry some momentum into the game at Bridgehaugh.

Head Coach of Hawick George Graham said: “After a good performance and a bonus point win a couple of weeks ago against Melrose, we are coming into this semi-final game at full strength and full of confidence.

We have prepared well since our last match and the players are relishing a hugely physical encounter with a good Stirling XV.”

Shawn Muir comes back into the starting line-up after international duty with the Scotland Club XV.

Guy Graham returns from his U20 Six Nations call-up with Ross Gibson dropping to the bench.

In the backs, Ali Weir starts at fullback with Edinburgh Rugby’s Callum McClelland taking a place on the bench alongside Andrew Mitchell who has impressed for the Hawick Force.

In the other semi-final BT Premiership finalists Melrose travel to Myreside to face Watsonians and attempt to keep a league and cup double on the cards.

The game is a replay of last Saturday’s BT Premiership semi-final when Melrose hosted the Edinburgh side and recorded a convincing 37-8 victory to book their spot in the BT Premiership final.

Stirling County v Hawick, Bridgehaugh, 3pm

Stirling County: Jonny Hope CAPTAIN; Niko Matawalu, Ewan Macgarvie, Graham Gilliland, Kerr Gossman; Ross Curle, Peter Jericevich; Remy Chies,Reyner Kennedy, Gary Holburn, Joe Beech, Stefan Yarrow, Hamilton Burr, Shaun Macdonald, Ruairidh Leishman

Replacements:Matthew Emmison, Adam Nicol, James Pow, Chris Fusaro, Logan Bonar, Craig Robertson, Andrew McLean

Hawick:Ali Weir; Gary Munroe, Keith Davies, Dom Buckley, Ross Combe; Lee Armstrong, Greig Cotteril; Shawn Muir, Matt Carryer, Nicki Little, Dalton Redpath, Craig Hamilton, Stuart Graham, Guy Graham, Bruce McNeil CAPTAIN

Replacements:Fraser Renwick, Matt Landels, Ross Gibson, Shaun Fairbairn, Callum McClelland, Andrew Mitchell,

BT Cup semi-finals – Saturday 31 March

Stirling County v Hawick, Bridgehaugh, 3pm

Watsonians v Melrose, Myreside, 3pm