ANOTHER Edinburgh derby day sees Watsonians looking to bounce back after last weekend’s away loss against Stirling Wolves when they host fellow Super Series Championship title contenders Heriot’s at Myreside tomorrow [Friday] evening.
Both teams have been allowed to call upon their recently drafter Edinburgh pro players – who are training with the squad but not been offered partnership deals – with Alfie Scopes in the engine-room for the hosts, while Lewis Wells is on the wing and Ben Smith is at No 8 for the visitors.
Watsonians are also boosted by the return from long-term injury of full-back Dom Coetzer, while a shuffle of the pack sees Campbell Wilson at openside, Kwagga van Niekerk at No 8, Jamie Berrisford join Scopes in the engine-room, Cal Davies at hooker and Craig Davidson at loose-head.
“We were disappointed with our second half performance at Stirling last weekend,” said head coach Nikki Walker. “However, the positives are that we dominated the first half and want to replicate that over a longer period this week while also capitalising on those opportunities created.
“We all know the challenge and dangers that Heriot’s will bring this weekend with their expansive strategy. This also means we will have to be on top of our game defensively to get anything out of the contest.”
Meanwhile, Heriot’s have rotated back to something much closer to their starting XV after using last weekend’s match against the Future XV to give several fringe players game-time. George Barber, Grant Hughes, Wells, Bruce Houston and Sinjin Broad all come back into the starting backline, whilst props Chris Keen and Euan McLaren return to the pack. Cammy Fenton returns from injury to captain the side from hooker and Sam Wallace, again involved as emergency cover, is rewarded with a start in the back-row after a fine performance last weekend.
“We got there in the end last weekend however we are mindful that we must start better on Friday, after two consecutive slow starts and against a side who tend to come out the blocks well,’ said head coach Ben Cairns. “We were able to freshen up a few bodies last week and we expect those players in particular to give us real energy from the start.
“Watsonians will be disappointed with their result at Bridgehaugh and will be looking to bounce back at home. With only one point between the two sides and the halfway point on the horizon, this game is pivotal for both teams’ Championsip ambitions.”
Watsonians (versus Heriot’s on Friday @ Myreside, kick-off 7.35pm): D Coetzer; S King, G Pringle, L Berg, F Owsley; J Baggott ©, M Scott; C Davidson, C Davies, B Bratton, J Berrisford, A Scopes, L Ball, C Wilson, K van Niekerk. Substitutes: F Duraj, G Scougall, L Alessandri, K Watt, N Irvine-Hess, M McAndrew, F Thomson, L MacPherson.
Heriot’s: L Richman; G Barber, M Davidson, G Hughes, L Wells; B Houston, S Broad; C Keen, C Fenton ©, E McLaren, R Seydak, J Campell, W Nelson, S Wallace, B Smith. Substitutes: C Ramsay, J Scott, S Cessford, D King, D Hood, F Campbell, R Jones, S Pecqueur.
Referee: Ian Kenny
Key battle: Cal Davies versus Cammy Fenton
Verdict: Tight contest between two genuine title contenders, with freshness and winning momentum likely to just trump home advantage. Narrow away win.