FOR the second week in a row, only two Super Series Championship games went ahead, this time thanks to the heavy rain making Bridgehaugh unplayable and leading to the cancellation of Stirling Wolves versus Heriots. That game should have seen Ronan Seydak become the first player to appear in 50 Super Series games for the Goldenacre club. In the opposition, Connor Gordon could also have been playing his 50th game had he not been red-carded in the previous game, which will delay his attainment of the milestone for a few weeks. With significant rain effecting the other two games, it was a weekend for grit and rugby smarts with both games played dominated by the experienced players in the ranks.
TOL’s reporters nominated scrum-halves as MOM in both games – Kaleem Barreto at Meggetland and Reiss Cullen at Millbrae. Barreto probably had more touches in the game than any other player and controlled proceedings superbly with his kicking, passing and running. He made Alex Thom‘s try with a superb basketball pass out of a tackle, but a fielding error of his also led to what proved the winning Watsonians try, so on this occasion the Ayrshire Bulls No 9 wins our nomination.
He is joined at half-back by Christian Townsend, who looked short on confidence last season, but has returned from a summer in Australia in good fettle, and his undoubted skill-set is beginning to be complemented by improved game management. He formed an influential midfield axis with Brad Roderick Evans who moved out one position to play a second five-eighth role when Robert Beattie pulled out injured, and for the second week in a row he had a major impact in the Bulls win. George Paul and Gregor McNeish both played well at stand-off, for the Bears and the Knights, respectively, in trying conditions but ultimately their contributions were not match winning so they miss out to the Ayrshire duo.
We have opted for George Pringle of Watsonians for the number 13 shirt, primarily for his remarkable try-saving tackle on Mason Cullen, whose work-rate on the Bears win sees him join his brother, Reiss, in our selection. On the other wing, Luca Bardelli, fresh from a try scoring debut for Glasgow Warriors, showcased his speed, alertness, footwork and footballing skills in scoring for the Bulls, and was equally effective in defence.
It wasn’t a weekend for the fleet of foot attacking full-back with some of this season’s outstanding players were somewhat neutralised by the conditions, but the Knights’ Donald Crawford had a solid game in helping his team recover from the loss of 21 points in the first 21 minutes, to only concede one more try in the remaining hour.
In the forwards, there were eight Scottish props starting at the weekend, all of them age 24 or under, with the notable exception of the Bears Martin McGinley who continues quietly to go about his business consistently and now has more appearances in the Super Series than any other prop.
In all honesty, the scrummaging was fairly even across both games, and any number of the young Scots could have been selected but we have gone for the young Watsonians duo Craig Davidson and Gregor Scougall, who at 20 and 21, respectively, held their own throughout and carried effectively around the park.
Corbin Thunder wins the hooker berth for an all action 80 minutes for the Knights. The prolific Jake Kerr scored two more tries for Watsonians, but Thunder holds him off for being a major player in keeping the Knights competitive despite the one-sided scoreline at Millbrae.
In the second-row, we’ve plumped for the consistent workhorses Jack Fisher of Boroughmuir Bears and Allan Ferrie of Southern Knights, who demonstrate one of the strengths of Super Series. Neither featured in Academy selections or national age-grade sides in their formative years, but their potential was spotted by Super Series coaches at local clubs Preston Lodge and Newton Stewart and series after series they have developed into top class back-five forwards.
In the back-row, familiar faces dominate our selection. Bears co-captain Craig Keddie scored their first try and seemed to love the damp conditions; Bulls captain Blair Macpherson scored a try double in his team’s winning performance, including one dribble over the line that would not have been out of place at Somerset Park; and Karl Main confirmed his return from long-term injury with an industrious and influential 80 minutes for Watsonians.
15. Donald Crawford (Southern Knights)
14. Mason Cullen (Boroughmuir Bears)
13. George Pringle (Watsonians)
12. Brad Roderick-Evans (Ayrshire Bulls)
11. Luca Bardelli (Ayrshire Bulls)
10. Christian Townsend (Ayrshire Bulls)
9. Reiss Cullen (Ayrshire Bulls)
1. Craig Davidson (Watsonians)
2. Corbin Thunder (Southern Knights)
3. Gregor Scougall (Watsonians)
4. Allan Ferrie (Southern Knights)
5. Jack Fisher (Boroughmuir Bears)
6. Craig Keddie (Boroughmuir Bears)
7. Karl Main (Watsonians)
8. Blair Macpherson (Ayrshire Bulls)