Premier Club Rugby round-up is Back!…

… and you may as well blank Mystic Meg and serve Paul the Psychic Octopus with a wedge of lemon because who knows what’s going to happen this season!

The opening weekend saw rafts of new signings, an early start, the beginning of a shiny new league and cup set-up and the champions falling at the first hurdle. Yup, Scottish Premier Club rugby is back to being unpredictable and (touch wood) exciting… well, at least for the first round of games…

Of course, for the Prem 1 teams there is a need for a good start in your first couple of games because of the new league structure. Put simply, after playing every team in your league once (this stands for Prem’s 1 and 2) the top 8 Prem 1 teams splinter off into their own group, keeping the points they have amassed, and all playing again once to see who the champions are. Meeeeeeanwhile the bottom 4 teams from Prem 1 and the top 4 from Prem 2 start a new group, with a clean slate, and play for the 4 spots in Prem 1 next season. Ok? Finally, the remaining 8 teams in prem 2 fight it out for survival and avoiding the Prem 3 trap door.

Wow! The leagues just heard this idea and dove right in there, didn’t they? The belief is that the competition between Prem 1 and 2 teams will be heart-pounding stuff. However, there is a fear in many quarters that it will be the exact same 12 teams in Prem 1 next season. What do you think?

Anyway, the important thing is that the first round of games has been played…and before any snow or fog! It’s almost like summer rugby!

Here’s a Prem 1 round-up;

Hawick 22-36 Ayr
at Mansfield Park

First time out back in the, ahem, ‘big time’ and the Greens ran the cup holders close. Looking like a rejuvenated side, and with locals Cottrell, Mactaggart, Hutton (next week!), Hogg and Gibson all returning to Hawick the team is feeling loudly confident. Shame then that even in poor form, which Kenny Murray openly admits Ayr were in on Saturday, the men in pink are still capable of tucking away a result. In the end it came down to missed kicks, Green forwards running out wide, and the Pink midfield scything through limp tackles.

Hawick should be formidable at home all season, while Ayr can still welcome back ‘Skippy’ Kelly next week, Scott Sutherland in future months and maybe, just maybe, Climo miiiiight resurface eventually.

Hawick: N Renwick; C Robertson, G Johnstone, G Hogg, S Anderson; S Hogg, G Cottrell; B McNeil, M Landels, S Linton, C Charters, M Robertson, N MacTaggart, D Landels, D Lowrie.
Replacements Used: G Lowrie, R Sutherland, A Marsh, H Scammell
Ayr: G Anderson; S Manning, M Bennett, M Stewart, C Taylor; R Curle, AJ MacFarlane; G Reid, S Adair, S Fenwick, D Craig, J Young, J Crossan, A Dunlop, G Tippet.
Replacements Used: S Forrest, J Hunter, N Cox, A Kelly

Scoring Summary
Hawick Tries: Renwick 2, D Landels, McNeill. Con: S Hogg.
Ayr Tries: Stewart 3, Curle, Hunter. Cons: Curle 4. Pen Curle.

SRB Man of the Match: Mark Stewart

Heriot’s 39-14 Watsonians
at Goldenacre

There was a lot of promise in this one but neither team really got going, even if Heriot’s dominated. Indeed the home side’s set-piece was in charge for large parts of the game, even pushing a maul 30 yards up field, but they just couldn’t get past 4 phases for most of the game. On the maroon side, they cannot be happy with the lack of threat offered by any strike runners, and the rate they were losing players must be alarming to the coaches.

Heriot’s will hope full back Colin Goudie carries his blistering form into the game against Stirling next week, while ‘Sonians will have fingers crossed their threadbare squad can cope after the losses of prop Owenson, back row Rowley and stand off Skeen.

Apologies for not having the full Watsons squad up, but I can’t name the full team off the top of my head without doing someone the disservice of naming them wrong, forgetting them or playing them out of position. I’ll amend this if I ever find a team list online, i.e. get yer finger oot Scotsman…

Heriot’s: C Goudie; M Nimmo, M Learmonth, P Saunders, G Walker; C Ferguson, G Wilson; A Dymock, S Burnett, W Blacklock, M Reid,R Martin, J Parker, P Eccles, M Lee.
Replacements Used: G Cameron, K Bryce, G Hunter, G Bryce.
Watsonians: – (I saw a pic of M. Di Rollo in the paper – Ed.)
Replacements Used: –

Scoring Summary
Heriot’s Tries: Goudie 3, Saunders 2. Con: G Wilson ?. Pen: Wilson ?
Watsonians Tries: Paulo. Pen: Ker 3

SRB Man of the Match: Colin Goudie

Selkirk 12-34 Boroughmuir
at Philiphaugh

Well the pre-season reports that ‘Muir had recruited heavily and with experience were confirmed when they romped away with this one. Ally ‘The Hulk’ Warnock is a proven match winner and helped guide Currie to the title a few seasons back, so with the added bulk of Sean Crombie in the forwards and ‘Chad’ Wilson in the backs, they may have added a bludgeon to their arsenal.

It’s too early to tell if Selkirk will be fighting it out at the bottom, come the split, because they are always at their best with their back is against the wall. This could also be said of Boroughmuir; are they completely reinvented? We will see when they play the big boys. However, if they can play at this pace and with such precision with Warnock kicking tatties, they should be there or thereabouts when he hits his stride.

Selkirk: F Harkness; S Hendrie, D Cassidy, R Armstrong, C Beattie; G Craig, M McVie; G Patterson, S Forrest, M Weller, A Renwick, S Willett, N Darling, C Patton, R Crockatt.
Replacements Used: I Walling, M Murray, C Marshall, C Beattie, R Godsmark
Boroughmuir: S Ruddick; T Bury, M Clapperton, S Wilson, J Webster; A Warnock, S Johnson; N Fraser, S Crombie, F Lait, G Scott, A Davidson, J Doubleday, N Rodger, D O’Riordan.
Replacements Used: C McIntosh, R Hislop, J Hare, R Neill, R Samson.

Scoring Summary
Selkirk Pens: Cassidy (4).
Boroughmuir Tries: Doubleday (2), Rodger, Scott, Samson, Wilson. Cons: Warnock (2).

SRB Man of the Match: Alastair Davidson

Glasgow Hawks 41-15 West of Scotland
at Burnbrae

Last season Hawks were well drilled, but unable to truly dominate a game. Well at least in this game things were different. The Old Anniesland club took advantage of the rather inexperienced West side put before them and the Gossman brothers in particular seemed to run with a weight of their shoulders as the try tally ticked over. For West it seems like they will have to hope the promise their youngsters show quickly turns into performances, because without any pro drafts that look handy, they will be without reinforcements for a while.

This local rivalry was a one sided affair.

Glasgow Hawks: C Gossman; K Gossman, D Kelbrick, D Milne, T Steven; M Adamson, P Jericevich; N Nyemba, E Milligan, G Hunter, R Hamilton, A Kirkland, R McKay, B Karalus, R Miller.
Replacements Used: J Malakoty, C Taylor, G Oommen, A White, J White.
West of Scotland: A Davis; A Park, R Dalgleish, A Matheson, A McCall Hagen; A Stevenson, A Fisken; A Longwell, G Haswell, E McLaren, M Jenkinson, R McAlpine, D Young , A De Ste Croix, A Morrison
Replacements Used: D McKenna, Marshall, G Perrett, A Hiddeston

Scoring Summary
Glasgow Hawks Tries: K Gossman 3, Nyemba, C Gossman 2. Cons: Adamson 3, White.Pen: White.
West of Scotland Tries: Jenkinson, Fisken. Con: Davis. Pen: Davis

SRB Man of the Match: Keir Gossman

Dundee HSFP 34-37 Stirling County
at Mayfield

The home side played Jekyll and Hyde here as they scored regularly but offered up poor defensive organisation and too many missed tackles. Stirling, on the other hand, will be buoyed by their late come back and their doggedness. Furthermore, after a strong season at home they should look to make their field a fortress, and score with the ease they showed at Dundee. This, it would seem, means getting Doneghan on the ball.

For Dundee it’s not quite panic stations, as they will have a few new faces coming in over the next few weeks, but they will be heading to Malleny this Saturday to face a Currie side looking to set the record straight…

Dundee HSFP: J Fleming; M Smith, H Duthie, F Clark, A Hay; A O’Connor, A Dymock; N Dymock, S Forrest, A Brown, R Hawkins (capt), A Linton, C Cumming, R Cessford, D Levison.
Replacements Used: C Kerr, D Russell, R Milne, R Gray, B Jones
Stirling County: R McGowan; G Lindsay, B Addison, D Gilmour, M Doneghan; S Edwards, S Kennedy; M Hunter, A Moffat (capt), G Mountford, C Deacons, G Gilchrist, T Edwards, S Robertson, C Eadie
Replacements Used: A Simpson, D Morrison, B Barsanti, G McRorie, J Hope

Scoring Summary
Dundee HSFP Tries: Smith 3, N Dymock, Linton. Con: Fleming 3. Pen: Fleming
Stirling County Tries: Eadie, Kennedy, McRorie, Lindsay, Doneghan. Cons: Edwards 3. Pen: Edwards 2

SRB Man of the Match: Mike Doneghan

and finally…

Melrose 32-29 Currie
at The Greenyards

A tight one was always on the cards here, and it seems as if the Currie Juggernaut has been slowed by Melrose side stumbling to victory. In fact interceptions and turnovers led to the scores that helped the ‘Rose to victory over an unusually off-beat Currie side.

Discipline and decisiveness were the difference between the two sides, and Melrose will be on top of the world right now. Unfortunately for Currie, they will be scratching their heads wondering why they lost a game they would have won last season. Indeed it doesn’t get any easier as they look set to lose Thompson and Kinloch to English universities. For Melrose, they have enough manpower to see them through at least their home games.

SRB Man of the Match: Allan Dodds

Dundonian Alan has played rugby all over the world for various teams including Dundee High School, Heriot's and the Scottish Club International. Now writing from London he covers all issues international and unreported.