Scottish rugby: Full houses set for Hawick and Marr as Premiership semi-finals take centre stage

Hawick put their long unbeaten home record on the line when they host Kelso in Borders derby

Big crowds are expected in Hawick and Troon on Saturday afternoon as the Premiership play-off semi-finals take centre stage.

There are two cracking last four ties shaping up with Hawick, who finished first in the regular season standings and are the reigning champions, taking on fourth placed Kelso in the Borders and second placed Marr hosting third placed Currie Chieftains in Ayrshire. Three of these teams have been used to play-off rugby in recent years while Kelso have very much been the surprise package this term, but they thoroughly deserved their top four spot post-promotion.

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All of the sides were resting last weekend, so expect them all to come out of the blocks flying. Hawick head coach Matty Douglas said: “We know the task that’s in front of us and we know how much Kelso have improved over the season.”

Hawick will be favourites when they take on Kelso at Mansfield Park.Hawick will be favourites when they take on Kelso at Mansfield Park.
Hawick will be favourites when they take on Kelso at Mansfield Park.

Hawick have not lost at home since October 2019, so will start as favourites, but in a local derby you never know what can happen. Kelso director of rugby Neil Hinnigan said: “This is an opportunity that the players themselves have created against all odds.”

Marr and Currie met as recently as February 16 and the tussles between them in the last couple of years have been tight. “The boys have prepared well for what will be a huge test against Currie,” Marr head coach Kenny Diffenthal said. His opposite man Mark Cairns stated: “We are hoping to be in the fight right to the end.” Marr have won both meetings between the sides so far this term, but last year’s runners-up Currie are used to turning it on for the big occasions.

Meanwhile, already-relegated Jed-Forest take on ninth placed Glasgow Hawks in a rearranged Premiership regular season match. Also on Saturday afternoon, Scotland Sevens man Jamie Farndale starts at full-back for Cambridge University at Saracens’ StoneX ground in the Varsity match versus Oxford.

Edinburgh Rugby’s women will finish their Celtic Challenge campaign in second place and will want to end on a high when they take on the Irish Clovers at the Parc Y Scarlets in Wales on Sunday.