BACK to life, back to reality – at least for four of the top ten clubs in the country, with the two matches which were postponed just before Christmas due to frozen pitches being played tomorrow afternoon.
Boroughmuir have moved their derby clash against struggling Edinburgh Accies to Lasswade because Tynecastle FC, their co-tenants at Meggetland, also have a home fixture scheduled. Peter Wright’s men are currently sixth in the table and look a long-shot to make the play-offs. While the dream is not completely dead yet – they know that they need to build up a head of steam as the league season drives towards its climax during January, and hope that results elsewhere go their way.
Edinburgh Accies, meanwhile, are ten points adrift at the foot of the table, but still have third bottom Hawick (at home) and second bottom Glasgow Hawks (away) to play during the next fortnight, so all is not lost quite yet. They fell short to Boroughmuir by only two points when the two sides met at Raeburn Place at the end of September, and have learned a few lessons about themselves and this league since then, so will be viewing this game as a golden opportunity to finally build some momentum.
Meanwhile, along the M8 at Balgray, Glasgow Hawks will also be hoping to start 2019 on a positive note after a tough end to 2018. They face a big challenge because Currie Chieftains are pushing hard for a play-off slot and have a team packed with ability and experience – although it will be interesting to see how the departure of Ben Cairns as head coach, to start his new role with Stirling County’s Super 6 franchise, effects things at Malleny Park.
HOW IT STANDS –
THE LOWDOWN –
GLASGOW HAWKS v CURRIE CHIEFTAINS
VENUE: Balgray @ 2.00pm
Glasgow Hawks: S Peffers; J McCready, M New, L Mesaga, J Couper; L Brims, P Boyer; G Strain, A Fraser, L Skinner, F Hastie, A Kirkland, B Flockhart, S Leckey©, G Adams. Subs: J Gemmell, P Henderson, C Thompson, K Baretto, C Symes.
Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; B Robbins, M Hooks, R Nelson©, S Hamilton; G Hunter, R Frostwick; A McWilliam, F Scott©, M Argiro, V Wright, M Kelly, S McGinley, T Gordon, T Tameilau. Subs: G Carson, R Patterson, F Watt, R Davies, C Davies.
TEAM NEWS –
Glasgow Hawks: Club captain Stephen Leckey makes a welcome return from injury and will look to give the side some much needed leadership and experience. Bruce Flockhart and Lelia Masaga are released by Warriors and start at inside centre and blindside flanker, respectively.
Currie Chieftains: Mike Vernel and Gregor Christie are unavailable, while Charlie Shiel is not released by Edinburgh and Greg Peterson has left Glasgow Warriors to join Bordeaux Begles. Fraser Watt, Thomas Gordon and Matt Hooks return to the starting XV, alongside Tevita Tameilau, who is released by the Warriors.
KEY BATTLE: Stephen Leckey versus Thomas Gordon
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“A very strange festive period with lots of time off and not much time to prep for this very important fixture; however, the rest will have definitely freshened everyone up and we are excited to get back into it. Currie have been one of the outstanding teams this year and have threats across the pitch, there isn’t many chinks in the armour and they are always well organised and prepared for every match. …” – Fin Gillies (Glasgow Hawks)
“It was disappointing not to get this match played before the Christmas break; however, the boys have trained well through this period and we will look to hit the ground running in what is a pivotal month for our league campaign. The break probably came at a good time for Hawks, I’m sure Fin and his team will have used the spell to freshen their players up and ensure they are ready to fight for every point in an effort to climb the table. Matches between these two sides are usually pretty open and free-scoring affairs and with the weather forecast looking favourable, this weekend’s proceedings may well follow suit.…” – Mark Cairns (Currie Cheiftains)
VERDICT: A challenging fixture for both clubs. Has the break done Hawks any good? How will Chieftains go without Ben Cairns? Interesting stuff.
It was one way traffic when they met at Malleny back in September and Hawks have not really done anything since to suggest that they are now any better equipped to match Chieftains in terms of strength, skill and attitude.
Comfortable away win.
BOROUGHMUIR v EDINBURGH ACCIES
VENUE: Lasswade @ 3.00pm
Boroughmuir: C Gossman; J Edmunds, A Russell, J Steele, K Gossman; G Parker, T Wilson; R Dunbar, J Matthews©, R Montgomery, S Smith, W Inglis, C Keddie, M Walker, R Drummond. Subs: D Robertson, A Mncube, C Atkinson, M Johnstone, C Laidlaw.
Edinburgh Accies: H Paterson; C Gray, R Chalmers, R Wilson, R Kent; R Mill, M Love; C Imrie, C Black, M McCallum, R Lovett, M Badenhorst, J Mann, J Sole©, L Seydak. Subs: R Simpson, M McGinley, N Stephen, S Johnson, N Armstrong.
TEAM NEWS –
Boroughmuir: The return of Chris Laidlaw to the squad for the first time since the opening weekend of the season is a big boost, while Archie Russell makes his first league appearance for the club in place of the unavailable Willie Wardlaw at outside centre. Gavin Parker slots in at 10 for the unavailable Greg Cannie, and Callum Atkinson is also back in the squad after his time away with Edinburgh Rugby .
Edinburgh Accies: Neil Armstrong, Richard Mill and Lawrie Seydak all return from injury to add some experience, as will Scotland cap Murray McCallum, who has been released by Edinburgh. Robbie Kent returns to a back three supported by the exciting Harry Paterson.
KEY BATTLE: Craig Gossman versus Harry Paterson
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“We now move into the business end of the season with four straight games that will decide the shape of the league. With the return of a number of injured players, the squad has trained well and will look to push forward. Accies will be a tough challenge as they look for their first win of the season …” – Peter Wright (Boroughmuir)
“We are looking forward to playing Boroughmuir on Saturday, albeit on neutral ground. We gave players an extended break to refresh physically and mentally and we will be going into the weekend with a renewed focus on ourselves and getting our bits of detail right. …” – Derek O’Riordan (Edinburgh Accies)
VERDICT: Chris Laidlaw is a big player for Boroughmuir, so his return to active service is bound to be significant – and it will be interesting to see how Finn Russell’s younger brother Archie shapes up in the centre. Accies will be hoping Murray McCallum can add some bone to their front five – and the return of Richard Mill and Lawrie Seydack should tighten them up.
It went to a last minute penalty in the reciprocal fixture at Raeburn Place – but it feels as though Boroughmuir have progressed more markedly than Accies – so should come out on top despite having been forced by the terms of their lease to forfeit home ground advantage.