Super Series Saturday preview: Stirling Wolves v Watsonians and Ayrshire Bulls v Southern Knights

Round four sees table topping Bulls defend unbeaten record against old Border rivals

Neil Irvine-Hess returns from injury to captain Watsonians against Stirling Wolves at Bridgehaugh tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Neil Irvine-Hess returns from injury to captain Watsonians against Stirling Wolves at Bridgehaugh tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

STIRLING WOLVES return to action after an extended break due to Glasgow Warriors’ failure to raise a team a fortnight ago, with a home match against a Watsonians side looking to build on their first win of the campaign over Southern Knights last time out.

“After a very good performance against Heriot’s in our last outing we make one change to the starting line up with Shaun MacDonald coming in for the injured MacKenzzie Duncan,” said Wolves coach Eddie Pollock. “On the bench we are excited to have Ru Hart back from Glasgow Warriors and look forward to watching young talent in Fergus Read and Callum Ferrie making their debuts for Wolves.

“Watsonians along with Ayrshire Bulls have been our hardest opponents throughout the last five years of Super Series rugby,” he added. “They are a physically direct side, always well coached with a proud record in the competition.


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“We will need to be at our best to get a result and I expect the crowd will experience a fantastic contest. Our players have come off the down week in good condition and the coaches have put them through some pretty intense sessions in preparation for a very physical contest. They are under no illusions of the performance and effort required if we are to come away with another home win.”

Watsonians head coach Fraser Brown said: “After a weekend with no game following our win down in Melrose, we are looking forward to getting back to action against last years’ Super Series Championship winners.

“After a tough opening round against the Bulls, Stirling showed their quality against Heriot’s in round two and we know we will have to be at our best if we are to come away with a win.

“We are pleased to welcome back our club captain, Neil Irvine-Hess, at No 8 after missing out on the last two games through injury. He will be joined in the back-row by[Edinburgh Rugby academy prospect] Tom Currie giving us a really exciting and explosive back five of the scrum.

“We are also really pleased to welcome back Conor McAlpine from injury. Conor was excellent for us last season and it’s a huge boost to have him back.”

 

Stirling Wolves (v Watsonians in round four of Super Series Sprint at Bridgehaugh on Saturday @ 3pm): G Bryce; M Heron, R Southern, M Holden ©, R McKnight; C Jackson, E Davey; L Quarm, J Roberts, M Tamosaitis, J Pow, J Oguntibeju, R Knott, S Knott, E Hasdell. Replacements: B Robertson, B Cullen, C Norrie, R Hart, F Read, K Mcghie, E Cunningham, C Ferrie.

Watsonians: A Lamb; J Mitchell,, L Berg, F Thomson, F Owsley; D Coetzer, C McApline; C Davidson, J Blyth-Lafferty, C Lamberton, K Van Niekerk, J Parkinson, T Currie S Cecil, N Irvine-Hess ©. Replacements: F Duraj, R Deans, B Bratton, K Watt, O Gordon, F Burgess, J Baggott, L Macpherson.

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell

Key battle: Ed Hasdell versus Neil Irvine-Hess

Prediction: Wolves triumph at end of tight encounter

 

 

Meanwhile, top-of-the-table Ayrshire Bulls are back on home territory after a big away win over Boroughmuir Bears last time out, with Southern Knights providing the opposition at Millbrae.

“The players showed renewed energy at training this week after a well-deserved week off and are eager to get stuck into what will be three big games to close off the Sprint series,” said Bulls head coach Pat MacArthur.

“Southern Knights are a young team that likes to throw the ball about, especially in broken play and off turnovers, so we’ll need to be accurate in what we do, and our defence will need to stay connected. We’ve worked hard on sticking to our structure and playing in the right areas.

“Teenager Jake Shearer will make he’s first start for the Bulls replacing the unavailable Jamie Drummond at loosened prop. We also see Ryan Sweeney return from injury in place of Blair Macpherson who moves to the bench. Other changes include, Jamie Shedden, Bobbie Beattie, Reiss Cullen, Oscar Baird and Calvin Henderson starting in place of Mason Cullen, Robbie Orr, Fergus Johnston, Rory Jackson and Rhodri Tanner.”

Knights defence coach Iain Chisholm stressed that his team are acutely aware of the size of the challenge they face against the campaign pace-setter.:

“Ayrshire Bulls are a great team, well coached and very well organised.” he acknowledged. “They’re powerful upfront and play off their dominant set-piece so we want to stop the game going from stoppage to stoppage. If we can do that, and match them physically, we’ll give ourselves a chance.

“It’s a huge challenge, but one the boys are looking forward to after a disappointing performance against Watsonians.”

Ayrshire Bulls (v Southern Knights in round four of Super Series Sprint at Millbrae on Saturday @ 3pm): L Bardelli; J Shedden, A Stirrat, B Beattie, T Glendinning; R Simpson, R Cullen; J Shearer, A McGuire, C Henderson, E Bloodworth co-©, O Baird, L McNamara, T Brown, R Sweeney co-©. Replacements: J Malcolm, C Miller, R Tanner, R Jackson, B Macpherson, F Johnston, D McCartney, M Kershaw.

Southern Knights: R Chalmers; F Douglas, A Hall, E Greenlaw, R Brett; C Grieve, H Patterson; J Dobie, H Morris, D Gamble ©, A Runciman, D Cockburn, A Ferrie, Y Fantini B Singer. Replacements: F Scott; Z  Szwagrzak, C Crookshanks, W Ferrie, G Young, C Davidson, J Civil, E McVicker.

Referee: Michael Todd

Key battle: Jake Shearer versus Dan Gamble

Prediction: Bulls power on


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About David Barnes 4008 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.