Super Series preview: Southern Knights need win over Heriot’s to keep play-off dream alive

Borderers will put pressure on Stirling Wolves with home victory over capital rivals

Southern Knights and Heriot's meet at The Greenyards on Friday night. Image: Jonathan Cruickshank
Southern Knights and Heriot's meet at The Greenyards on Friday night. Image: Jonathan Cruickshank

LAST weekend’s loss to play-off rivals Stirling Wolves means that Southern Knights need to beat Heriot’s in their final match of the Super Series Championship regular season at The Greenyards tomorrow [Friday] night and then hope that Wolves come up short away to Boroughmuir Bears on Saturday evening [kick-off at 5pm] if they are to make next weekend’s knock-out matches.

It is a long-shot, but head coach Alan Tait has promised that his players will pull out all the stops to make sure they deliver on their side of the bargain.

“Despite the disappointment of last week’s match , the group has to react and put in a performance in what could be our last game of the season,” he said. “There’s a chance for us to make the top four but we don’t control our fate now so will be 100 percent focused on what performance we can put in against the form team of the Championship.


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“It will be two teams trying to play an expansive, attacking style of rugby so it should be a great spectacle and it’s always great playing in front of our home crowd at The Greenyards,” he added.

Tait has selected Hamish Bentley at outside centre with Paddy Anderson moving to the wing and Cal Barrett dropping to the bench, while Craig Greer returns from injury at loose-head prop with Luke Thompson promoted from the bench to start at hooker, which allows Corbin Thunder to move to the back-row.

Heriot’s already have already secured top seeding in the play-offs, meaning they host either Knights or the Wolves in next Friday night’s semi-final (which will be played at Hawthornden in Lasswade), and head coach Ben Cairns has used this match as an opportunity to freshen up his squad and offer players a chance to push their case for a central role in the knock-out matches.

Charlie Savala (released by Edinburgh Rugby), Sam Pecqueur, Ross Jones and Sinjin Broad all come into the backline, while Josh Scott, Duncan Hood, Cairn Ramsay, Wallace Nelson and Callum Anderson are added to the pack

Michael Liness, Euan McLaren, Ruairidh Leishman, Ronan Seydak and Liam Richman all move to the bench and are joined by Struan Cessford, fit again Ben Smith and Euan McAra.

“Whilst we would have loved better execution across the board versus Watsonians [last weekend], we dug in really well and came away with a good win, so we want to continue that momentum into this weekend and beyond,” said Cairns.

“The Knights will be disappointed with their display in their last outing and a semi-final spot is no longer in their own hands, but I am sure they will be doing all they can to get the result and put the pressure back on Stirling Wolves who play the next day.

“The reverse of this fixture is one we probably should have lost, requiring two very late tries to salvage the win. We are in no doubt how dangerous Knights can be and we will have to control large parts of the match if we are to continue our winning streak.”

 

Southern Knights (versus Heriot’s at The Greenyards on Friday @ 7.35pm): D Crawford; A Cross, H Bentley, A Hall, P Anderson; G McNeish©, C Bell; C Greer, L Thompson, D Gamble, T Nwosu-Hope, A Ferrie, A Hosking, C Thunder, H Borthwick. Substitutes: D Voas, J Dobie, A Dodds, S Derrick, G Young, M Job, H Rutherford, C Barrett.

Heriot’s: D King; L Wells, G Baber, C Savala, S Pecqueur; R Jones©, S Broad; J Scott, D Hood, C Ramsay, C Jupp, J Campell, W Nelson, S Wallace, C Anderson. Substitutes: M Liness, S Cessford, E McLaren, R Leishman, R Seydak, E McAra, L Richman, B Smith.

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell

 

Key clash: Corbin Thunder versus Sam Wallace

 

Verdict: This is, to all intents and purposes, a dead-rubber for Heriot’s as a club – but momentum is invaluable when you reach the do-or-die stage of a season and there are several players here who have big points to prove. The best team in the competition so far this season should have enough firepower across the 23 to make it nine victories on the bounce.

Away win.


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About David Barnes 3821 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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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