Super Series Saturday preview: Heriot’s v Southern Knights and Boroughmuir Bears v Stirling Wolves

Heriot's and Stirling Wolves jockey for 1st/2nd play-off spot

Heriot's host Southern Knights at Goldenacre on Saturday afternoon. Image: Craig Murray
Heriot's host Southern Knights at Goldenacre on Saturday afternoon. Image: Craig Murray

IF Heriot’s are going to qualify for the 1st/2nd play-off in this last ever Super Series Sprint then they are going to have to do it the hard way. They will almost certainly have to beat Southern Knights in their penultimate regular season match at Goldenacre tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon, then beat top of the table Ayrshire Bulls, at Goldenacre again, next Saturday, whilst hoping that Stirling Wolves – currently occupying that sought-after second spot in the table – slip up against either Boroughmuir Bears away tomorrow or Southern Knights next Friday.

In short, Heriots’ destiny is not in their own hands, but head coach Ben Cairns says his team will keep pushing until the final whistle.

“We freshen up thew squad with a few changes as we enter the home straight of the Sprint,” he said, when naming his 23 for tomorrow’s visit of a Knights team looking to bounce back following a heavy defeat to Ayrshire Bulls last time out. “Dan King returns at full-back after recovering from shoulder surgery and Lewis Wells gets the nod on the wing ahead of Sam Pecqueur in an otherwise unchanged backline.


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“In the forwards, Josh Scott and Ruairidh Leishman return at loose-head prop and No 8 respectively. Duncan Hood comes in at hooker and Pat Spence gets his first start in the second-row. Finally, Wallace Nelson comes in for the unavailable Sam Wallace at openside flanker, with Fergus Wood, Euan McAra and Cal Anderson returning to the squad on the bench.

“Although we got the five-pointer [against Boroughmuir Bears away] last week, we were disappointed by our level of performance,” he added. “We are expecting a big change in that regard this week. We know the Knights will capitalise on any loose play with some really good rugby players when the game breaks up therefore execution will be key for us this week.”

Meanwhile, winger Ethan McVicker and scrum-half Callum Davidson get starts for Southern Knights this week in place of Finn Douglas and Hector Patterson, who are on Edinburgh ‘A’ duty against Watsonians tonight. The other changes for the Borderers are Jeremy Civil coming in on the other wing for the benched Roly Brett, Angus McGregor taking over from Jack Dobie at loose-head, Zen Szwagrzak replacing the missing Dan Gamble at tight-head and Garry Law promoted to start at No 8 in place of Robert Singer.

“The team are aware that the last couple of weeks have been below our standards, so we’ve had a real focus on a couple of key elements of our game we want to change up for this weekend,” said attack coach Scott Wight. “It’s key that we get the basics right as we’re well aware that Heriot’s are very dangerous right across the pitch.”

 

Heriot’s (v Southern Knights in round five of Super Series Sprint at Goldenacre on Saturday @ 3pm): D King; L Davidson, M Davidson, A Hunter, J Blain; L Richman ©, S Smith; J Scott, D Hood, E McLaren, R Seydak, P Spence, C Jupp, W Nelson, R Leishman. Replacements: M Liness, C Keen, L Porter, F Wood, C Anderson, E McAra, S Pecqueur, C Townsend.

Southern Knights: R Chalmers; E McVicker, E Greenlaw, A Hall, J Civil; C Grieve, C Davidson; A McGregor, H Morris, Z Szwagrzak , A Runciman ©, D Cockburn, A Ferrie, Y Fantini, G Young. Replacements: M Brogan; J Dobie, C Crookshanks, M Badenhorst, M Rhodes, P Ritchie, R Brett, M Glen.

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell

Key battle: Wallace Nelson versus Yaree Fantini

Prediction: Heriot’s do what they need to do to stay in the play-off hunt.

 

 

Meanwhile, across the capital, second-row Jack Fisher will follow Martin McGinley in becoming only the second Boroughmuir Bears player to make 50 Super Series appearances when Stirling Wolves come calling at Meggetland tomorrow afternoon.

“Jack stepped up from Preston Lodge RFC to challenge himself at Super Series level and has made some significant strides in his rugby development,” said Bears head coach Graham Shiel, who has made only two changes to his starting XV, both in the front-row, with Arthur Allen taking over from the injured Corey Tait at hooker and Chris Anderson earning his first start of the campaign at loose-head ahead of the benched Callum McFeat Smith.

“There were some improvements in our performance last week, but overall it was a disappointing result,” added Shiel, reflecting on a 19-38 scoreline against Heriot’s.

“Missed opportunities in the first half meant that we did not capitilise on the territory and possession advantage that we had. On the flip-side, Heriot’s were very clinical and they took their chances when they had them. Frustrating, for sure, but that is the reality of not taking the opportunities afforded us against strong opposition and we were penaliSed heavily for errors we made.

“We know that Wolves are a very strong outfit with experience and quality across the squad which makeS this another big challenge for the Bears.

“With only a very limited time available now as a group, finding ways to fulfil our potential continues to be our priority, allowing us to compete and strive for the wins that the group crave.

“Improvement in our basic skills under pressure is key to improving our ability to build momentum and apply pressure on Stirling Wolves and find a performance that the group are content with.”

Wolves head coach Eddie Pollock has rotated his half-backs with Euan Cunningham and Kyle McGhie starting while Craig Jackson and Eric Davey are on the bench. Loose-head Ben Cullen and second-row Archie Clarke are added to the pack, while Marr’s Ali Rogers is on the bench.

“The Bears had an excellent first half against Heriot’s last week and really should have got more out of the game,” said Pollock. “They are a dangerous attacking side who will look to challenge you from all areas of the field, and we will need to be alert to their multi-option threats.

“The result last week at home was pleasing. However, we were rusty after a three-week layoff and we will be looking to produce a much more consistent performance away from home if we are to maintain our position in the table. As we get to the final weeks of the season we must continue to improve our performances.”

 

Boroughmuir Bears (Heriot’s in round four of the Super Series Sprint at Meggetland on Friday @ 7.35pm): E Muirhead; M Reid, J Ventisei, S Robeson ©, R Stewart; A McLean, R  Swan; C Anderson, A Allen, M McGinley, M Laboda, J Fisher, M Lowe, L Calder, D Davison. Replacements: Z Griffiths, C McFeat Smith, Z Toerien, C Bain, L Habib, R Cadzow, G Paul, A Thom.

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; M Heron, R Southern, M Holden ©, R McKnight; E Cunningham, K McGhie; B Cullen, J Roberts, M Tamosaitis, J Pow, A Clarke, R Knott, S Macdonald, E Hasdell. Replacements: B Robertson, L Quarm, A Rogers, J Oguntibeju, F Read, E Davey, C Jackson, C Ferrie.

Referee: Rob McDowell

Key battle: Euan Muirhead versus Glenn Bryce

Prediction: Wolves win.


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About David Barnes 4012 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.