AS the Super6 incarnations of two of the most successful club sides in the Premiership during the last five or six years, it must be a strange experience for Southern Knights and Heriot’s to find themselves propping up the Super6 table after three rounds of matches – which is bound to add extra spice to tomorrow’s clash between the two sides at The Greenyards.
This match is a double-pointer with the winning team likely to be catapulted right back into the mix, while a defeated side could find themselves detached at the foot of the league.
While both sides will draw comfort from the fact that they have not only been competitive in all three matches they have played so far, the flip side of that sort of situation is that the problem can often become psychological rather than technical, and therefore much harder to properly diagnose and remedy.
After his comeback from injury last week was scuppered by the weather, the highly experienced Fraser Thomson will be itching to get going as captain of the Southern Knights from full-back, and will provide both composure and a razor-sharp attacking edge at the back. However, the continued absence of official team captain Craig Jackson with a torn pectoral muscle is a big miss in the middle of the park.
There is no Murdo MacAndrew or Bruce Colvine this week so Struan Hutchison is listed at scrum-half, with some professional pedigree in the shape of Edinburgh’s Jason Baggott on his outside at stand-off.
Finlay Scott has fully recovering from a shoulder injury sustained during last year’s Under-20s Six Nations and has had some game time with Jed before being named on the bench for this one, and teenage Jacob Henry also gets an opportunity after impressing in training.
“We are looking forward to getting back out on The Greenyards and putting in an improved performance,” said head coach Rob Chrystie. “The players and management have worked hard over the last two weeks and are in determined mood.
“Heriots have shown that they are a very dangerous side. With their wide style of play I am sure they will be excited to play on the new 3G pitch.”
The visitors started the season in excellent style with an away win at Ayrshire Bulls, but have flattered to deceive since then. After making a point of giving everyone at his disposal a run during the first three weeks of the campaign, head coach Phil Smith says he is now looking to narrow selection in on his strongest side.
This week, Rhuaridh Leishman and Callum Marshall are selected in the engine-room, with Adam Sinclair dropping to the bench and Ronan Seydak missing out altogether. Murray McCallum is once again released by Edinburgh to play tight-head. Robbie Chalmers also makes his way onto the bench.
“The messages this weekend are again really simple, be more disciplined and lower our error count,” he said. “The players recognise that these have been our biggest failings in our last two games and are aware that the Knights will readily pounce on these if they continue.
“The players are looking forward to watching Heriot’s Blues in the double-header then playing on the new look Greenyards themselves.”
Southern Knights: Fraser Thomson©; Ciaran Whyte, Patrick Anderson, Gavin Wood, Joseph Jenkins; Jason Baggott, Struan Hutchison; Grant Shiells, Russell Anderson, Conor Young, Angus Runciman, Dalton Redpath, Neil Irvine-Hess, Ruaridh Knott, Iain Moody. Subs: Finlay Scott, Calum Crookshanks, Shaun Gunn, James Head, Fraser Renwick, Andrew Nagle, Thomas Galbraith, Jacob Henry.
Heriot’s: Ross Jones; Rory McMichael, Robert Kay, Cameron Hutchison, James Spencer; Stuart Edwards, Andrew Simmers; Andrew Nimmo, Michael Liness, Murray McCallum, Callum Marshall, Rhuaridh Leishman, Iain Wilson©, Jack McClean, Jason Hill. Subs: Ali Johnstone, Josh Scott, Struan Cessford, Adam Sinclair, Charlie Jupp, Dan Nutton, Jack Blain, Robbie Chalmers.
The Super6 table as it stands –