Super Series Saturday 30th September Preview: Ayrshire Bulls v Stirling Wolves and Southern Knights v Watsonians

Gary Heatly runs the rule over this weekend's Super Series action

Southern Knights host Watsonians at the Greenyards tomorrow [Saturday] evening. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Southern Knights host Watsonians at the Greenyards tomorrow [Saturday] evening. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

AYRSHIRE BULLS host Stirling Wolves on Saturday evening looking to bounce back from their defeat at Watsonians last Friday in the Super Series Championship. They know a win with a bonus point would definitely take them top of the standings for now ahead of inactive Heriot’s Blues, but the Wolves, currently fifth, will be thinking that a positive result in their favour would give their play-off chances a big boost.

For the Bulls, Calvin Henderson starts at tight-head having recovered from illness in place of Craig Miller, who is on Edinburgh Rugby duty. Alex McGuire comes in at hooker and Tim Brown starts at seven after doing well as a replacement last weekend, meaning Lewis McNamara drops to  the bench.

Behind the scrum, Ollie Horne and Luca Bardelli are on Glasgow Warriors duty, so things are re-jigged a bit. Thomas Glendinning returns from injury on the wing and he will look to pick up where he left off in a dynamic back-three alongside Jamie Shedden and Chris Hyde. The Bulls expect a big impact from their bench with Aminio Bogidrau entering the matchday 23.


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“Stirling are a very physical team with a very strong pack who will no doubt look to take us on up front,” said Bulls head coach Pat MacArthur. “They have some experienced backs who will manage the game well and put them in good areas.

“It’s a double header at Millbrae with the 1st XV kicking off at 3pm [in National One versus Watsonians] so we expect a good atmosphere and a tough encounter.

“It’s important we bounce back from a tough defeat last week and the boys have prepared well and are looking forward to it.

“To have Calvin Henderson back is brilliant. He’s been a huge part of the squad so far this season and it will be great to see him back on the field.”

Strong running Ed Hasdell returns at No 8 after injury with Ed Timpson reverting to the bench for the Wolves. The experienced Reyner Kennedy replaces the injured Gregor Hiddleston at hooker and Sam Rockley rotates in for Ross McKnight on the wing. Sam Rainey will cover hooker as a replacement.

“Ayrshire Bulls at Millbrae is always a tough assignment,” said h ead coach Eddie Pollock. “The Bulls loss at Myreside last week was unexpected and I am sure this will generate a strong response from the home side.

“On our part we have had excellent preparation this week which included a challenging hit out against Glasgow Warriors on Tuesday. I was impressed with our intensity and technical work throughout that session, but our players know they will need to replicate this performance on Saturday to be in the hunt at the end of what will be a gruelling 80 minutes.”

 

Ayrshire Bulls (versus Stirling Wolves at Millbrae on Saturday at 5pm): C Hyde; J Shedden, C Elliot, B Beattie, T Glendinning; B Roderick-Evans, R Cullen; J Drummond, A McGuire, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, R Sweeney, T Brown, B Macpherson©. Subs: R Tanner, A Nimmo, W Farquhar, O Baird, L McNamara, F Johnston, C Townsend, A Bogidrau.

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; M Heron, R Southern, M Holden©, S Rockley; C Jackson, K McGhie; G Breese, R Kennedy, M Ogunlaja, H Ferguson, J Pow, R Knott, C Gordon, E Hasdell. Subs: S Rainey, L Quarm, L Skinner, T Smith, E Timpson, E Davey, C Scott, R McKnight.

Referee: Rob McDowell

Key battle: Jamie Drummond versus Moby Ogunlaja.

Verdict: When these two sides met at Bridgehaugh earlier in the season it was a very tight affair which the Bulls won 28-26 and the Wolves will be looking to pressure them again after a bye-week. The Bulls on home turf are a tough side to beat and they’ll  be after a reaction after defeat to Watsonians.

Home win.

 

Fourth plays third in the match at 5.30pm with the Southern Knights and Watsonians both looking to build on wins from last time out. It is after the Melrose-Gala National One Border derby at the same venue at 3pm.

For the Knights, Jack Dobie and Luke Thompson earn starts in the front-row alongside Alex Dodds, while they welcome back Theo Nwosu-Hope from suspension in the second-row. Archie Hosking starts at six with Monroe Job shifting to seven and Harry Borthwick in at No 8 for the injured Sam Derrick.

In the backs, skipper Gregor McNeish is back at 10 after being on the bench last week as they just got past the Future XV. Hamish Bentley drops out due to injury.

On the bench, Future XV players Hector Patterson and Jack Hocking, both Edinburgh Rugby Academy members, will help cover the backs. Prop Asaeli Saumaka is among the replacements as emergency cover from Highland.

In the only change to the Watsonians backline, Lee Millar replaces Jason Baggott at 10 and takes the captaincy on after doing well off the bench versus the Bulls last time out.

Up front, Karl Main is back from long-term injury, so he starts at seven and Jake Kerr reverts back to his usual role of hooker.

Bobby Bratton and Alfie Scopes are set to be involved in with Edinburgh on Friday evening, so they are on the bench with Craig Davidson starting at loose-head and fit again Jamie Berrisford in the second-row. Robbie Deans, the young prop who played for the Futures at The Greenyards last week, is on the bench.

“The Greenyards is a great place to go and play, it’s one of Scotland’s historic rugby venues and we’ll be taking on a very potent attack in the shape of the Southern Knights,” head coach Nikki Walker said.

“The Knights have had no problem scoring this season and we know from the first game at Myreside they move the ball fast and like to score. We are coming into this on the back of a big win last week, but we can’t switch off.

“The team know they have to work as hard this week as they did last week to make sure we stay in touch with the teams above and give ourselves the best chance of reaching the play-offs.”

 

Southern Knights (versus Watsonians at The Greenyards on Saturday at 5.30pm): D Crawford; A Cross, P Anderson, A Hall, C Barrett; G McNeish©, C Bell; J Dobie, L Thompson, A Dodds, A Ferrie, T Nwosu-Hope, A Hosking, M Job, S Derrick. Subs: C Thunder, C Greer, A Saumaka, G Young, K Buchan, H Patterson, H Rutherford, J Hocking.

Watsonians: D Coetzer; L MacPherson, G Pringle, L Berg, S King; L Milar©, C McAlpine; C Davidson, J Kerr, G Scougall, K Watt, J Berrisford, L Ball, K Main, K van Niekerk. Subs: C Davies, R Deans, B Bratton, A Scopes, F Duraj, M McAndrew, F Owsley, M Reid.

Referee: Sam Grove-White

Key battle: Harry Borthwick versus Kwagga van Niekerk.

Verdict: The Knights have certainly been scoring plenty of tries of late, they just haven’t worked out how to stop them going in at the other end. On their day they can match anyone in the league for spells, but if half-backs Connor McAlpine and Lee Millar can control the tempo for Watsonians here then they should get the win.

Away win.


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About Gary Heatly 457 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.

4 Comments

  1. A bemusing decision from the Knights to parachute in Kit Buchan onto the bench , how do they come away with this nonsense ? This player played about 3 games for Melrose last year , hardly ever trains and quite how this lad fits the descriptor for Super 6 is surely beyond me …
    Surely there is a more deserving recipient of a place either within the Knights squad itself or in the Borders for that matter.
    The Melrose influence reeks on this one as there is no way this player figures if a selection is being made on merit rather than what looks like desperation…

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    1
    • No you are wrong and Mr Dodson is right. He must be mustn’t he? Otherwise why is he being paid a fortune to oversee this glorious competition?

    • They’re obviously struggling to attract players to commit to this franchise .
      Just turn up and you’ll get a game .
      That seems to be what happens .
      Desperate stuff

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