Super Series: Boroughmuir Bears swept aside by Ayrshire Bulls

Victorious head coach Pat MacArthur admits to being angry at his side at half-time despite being 21-0 up

Luca Bardelli on the ball for Ayrshire Bulls in their big away win over Boroughmuir Bears in round three of the 2024 Super Series Sprint. Image: Fred Palmer
Luca Bardelli on the ball for Ayrshire Bulls in their big away win over Boroughmuir Bears in round three of the 2024 Super Series Sprint. Image: Fred Palmer

Boroughmuir Bears 7

Ayrshire Bulls 45

DAVID BARNES @ Meggetland

THE Bulls bandwagon rolls on with the Super Series table-toppers brushing aside a game but out-gunned Bears outfit to make it thee bonus-point wins from three matches played so far in this campaign. Next up for the Ayrshire men will be the Southern Knight back at Millbrae in a fortnight’s time and the Borderers will approach that clash with more than a hint of trepidation based on the one-sided nature of this clash.

Interestingly, victorious head coach Pat MacArthur admitted afterwards that he had given his team a dressing down at half-time, which highlights that the challenge for the Bulls during this Sprint series is more about hitting their own high standards than bettering the opposition.

“I apologised to the boys after the game [because] it is not very often that you go in 21-0 up at half-time and the coach has a few choice words,” MacArthur chuckled. “But, its about where I believe we can get to, and the process to get there … I believe we were a bit sloppy at points in the first half with the territory we had and we let them off with a few soft outcomes, which I was a bit annoyed about. And I don’t think the physicality was quite where I expect it to be.

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“We have certain standards, training is three times per week and we don’t ever play touch. Everything is based on these certain standards, and when we deliver to those standards the result  – the outcome  – will take care of itself. What is the point of going to all the effort to put such a good team together if we are not hitting those standards at the weekend.

“Also,  I’d also like to send a message of support to Andy Nimmo [the Bulls prop] and his family on behalf of the squad,” MacArthur added. “His mum passed away recently and the boys were wearing a band tonight to show that our thoughts are with him.”

Meanwhile, beaten head coach Graham Shiel was in reflective mood as he looked back on a long night under the relentless cosh of the league’s dominant side.

“We were clearly second tonight in a lot of departments which was tough, but at the same time there was your advert for this competition,” he mused. “Bulls are the best team and everyone wants to emulate that, so it was a good indictor for us of where we want to operate and what we should be aspiring to.

“There was some good stuff tonight,” he continued. “When we attacked, we attacked well, but we just didn’t have enough ball. Breakdown caused us a lot of problems, and you can’t really challenge in games like this without possession.”

An early Bulls line-break by Andy Stirrat was pulled back because of a crossing offence, then Bears twice got into space, through Matt Reid looping off his wing to create an extra man on the left, then Scott Robeson making good ground whilst playing a penalty advantage off scrappy ruck possession on his own 22, but on both occasions the killer pass didn’t go to hand.

Bulls then had a long period of pressure inside Bears 22, but struggled initially to get over the line against some committed defence, with home tight-head prop Martin McGinley celebratinghis 50th Super6/Series appearance by winning a turnover penalty.

Eventually, however, the pressure told, and Luca Bardelli nipped over for the opening score, which was converted by Richie Simpson to make it 0-7 with 18 minutes played.

Bulls were immediately back on the attack from the restart, and after referee David Sutherland had a word with home skipper Robeson about the number of penalties being conceded, Bulls struck again through Alex McGuire from a line-out drive, again converted by Simpson.

With their foot on the home team’s throat, Bulls kept pushing down and were assisted in their quest for complete dominance by the continuing flow of Bears penalties, some of them a function of the pressure the home team were under, but others completely unnecessary such as a no-arms late tackle by Corey Tait on Luca Bardelli on halfway.

Eventually, that inevitable third try came on 33 minutes, with McGuire repeating his trick form earlier with another line-out maul try, leading to another conversion from Simpson.



Bulls wrapped up the bonus-point with only three minutes of the second half played when Thomas Glendinning bustled over, and moved further ahead on 50 minutes when Glendinning went from scorer to creator when he burst up his right wing, stepped in field and then released Oscar Baird for an unchallenged run to the line.

Still Bulls wouldn’t let up, and, try as they might, Bears just couldn’t make it out of their own half. With penally advantages piling on top of each other, visiting captain Blair Macpherson bustled over for try number six just after the hour mark.

Finally, after Bulls had cleared their bench, there was some respite for Bears. A knock-on by Ed Bloodworth from the restart gave the hosts some field position and Robeson handed off his tackler in midfield then sent Ruairidih Swan under the sticks, setting cup an easy Andy McLean conversion.

But that was as close as the home team got, with the remainder of the match played out as a game of cat and mouse, until the final play when Glendinning did well to gather an awkwardly bouncing ball then sending Jamie Shedden clear on the right. The big winger was eventually closed down on the line but had the power to wrestle past Euan Muirhead‘s tackle and over for the score.


Teams –

Boroughmuir Bears: E Muirhead; M Reid, R Kerr (J Ventesei 24), S Robeson, R Stewart; G Paul (A McLean, 54), R  Swan (J Beveridge 75); C McFeat Smith (F Gillgrass 75), A Allen (Z Griffiths 79), M McGinley (Z Toerien 54), R Burke, M Laboda, J Fisher, D Davison, C Tait (L Habib 72).

Ayrshire Bulls: L Bardelli; T Glendinning, R Orr (M Kershaw 58), A Stirrat (R Beattie 44), M Cullen (J Shedden 47); R Simpson, F Johnston (R Cullen 47); J Drummond (J Shearer 58), A McGuire (J Malcolm 51), R Tanner ( C Henderson 47), E Bloodworth, R Jackson, O Baird, L McNamara ( T Brown 51), B Macpherson.

Referee: David Sutherland


Scorers –

Boroughmuir Bears: Try: Swan; Con: McLean.

Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Bardelli, McGuire 2, Glendinning, Baird, Macpherson, Shedden; Con: Simpson 5.

Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21 (h-t) 0-26; 0-31; 36-0; 38-0;  38-5; 38-7; 43-7; 45-7.


Player-of-the-Match: The official man-of-the-match was Blair Macpherson. As his coach, Pat MacArthur, said:  “The standards he sets is outstanding. If you look closely for the stuff that doesn’t usually get seen, he is a massive   part of our maul, he is a massive part of our physicality throughout the game, and the work he puts in at rucks is phenomenal.” The former Scotland hooker was, however, understandably keen to point out that it was a whole team effort, with hooker Alex McGuire and Oscar Baird particularly influential.

Talking point: At the moment, this Sprint series looks awfully like the running of the ‘Bulls’ in Pamplona, with those foolish enough to get in the way diving for cover as the men from the west rampage towards the winning line. Can anyone slow the progress of Pat MacArthur’s side?

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About David Barnes 3957 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

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