Super Series preview: Watsonians and Stirling Wolves eye play-off places

A home win would guarantee Myreside men's involvement in the play-offs

Jason Baggot returns to the Watsonians starting XV as stand-off and captain versus Stirling Wolves. Image: Bryan Robertson

A HOME win for Watsonians over Stirling Wolves tomorrow [Saturday] evening will confirm their place in the Super Series Championship play-offs and keep alive their hopes of a top two finish which would secure a home semi-final draw.

Head coach Nikki Walker has named a settled match-day squad for the match, with half-backs and hooker the only changes to the starting XV which saw off Boroughmuir Bears last weekend.

Jason Baggott takes over the No 10 jersey and the captaincy from benched Lee Millar, Connor McAlpine rotates in for Murdo McAndrew at scrum-half, and Cal Davies replaces Jake Kerr in the middle of the front-row. On the bench, Finn Clarke replaces Robbie Deans as front-row cover.


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“Stirling Wolves are one of two teams who got the better of us in the first half of the competition so we know the challenge ahead,” said Walker. “They are a well-organised and dangerous team that I am sure are not completely happy with their current league standings.

“Therefore, we expect a very difficult challenge this week as they try to climb into the play-off position. Everyone has been very focused in training over the last two weeks knowing we are approaching the climax of the season and with a full understanding of what we need to do to achieve our season objective.”

Wolves are looking to bounce back after a heavy home loss in Wednesday’s re-arranged fixture against Heriot’s and while it is not absolutely imperative that they get a positive result here, a win would certainly relieve the pressure as they hunt a top four finish.

Eddie Pollock’s side are currently fifth, two points behind the Southern Knights but with this game in hand. Next Friday night’s clash with the Borderers at Bridgehaugh is likely to de decisive.

It’s all change in the front-row for Wolves this weekend with Sam Rainey starting at hooker in place of the injured Reyner Kennedy, while George Breese and Lewis Skinner swap in for Lliam Quarm and Moby Ogunlaja who revert to the bench. Ruaridh Knott returns tat blindside flanker in place of the injured Ed Timpson.

“We come in to our third game in nine days with one win and one loss for our efforts so far,” reflected Pollock. “Watsonians at Myreside is another big test and we will need to perform much better than we did against Heriot’s on Wednesday to pick up any of the points on offer.

“The crowd should be in for another physical, entertaining encounter with the competition for a semi-finals spot really heating up with ourselves, Watsonians and Southern Knights in the mix, and all to play for in the next fortnight.”

 

Watsonians (versus Stirling Wolves at Myresside on Saturday at 5pm): D Coetzer; S King, G Pringle, L Berg, F Owsley; J Baggott ©, C McAlpine; C Davidson, C Davies, G Scougall, K Watt, A Scopes, L Ball, K Main, K van Niekerk. Subs: F Duraj, F Clarke, B Bratton, J Berrisford, S Cecil, M McAndrew, L Miller, L MacPherson.

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; M Heron, R Southern, M Holden©, R McKnight; C Jackson, B Afshar; G Breese, S Rainey, L Skinner, H Ferguson, J Pow, R Knott, L Wynne, E Hasdell. Subs: Z Griffiths, L Quarm, M Ogunlaja, T Smith, S Macdonald, K McGhie, E Cunningham, S Rockley.

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell

 

Key battle: Lewis Berg versus Marcus Holden

 

Verdict: It has been a roller-coaster eight days for the visitors who hammered the Future XV last Friday night then came a cropper against Heriot’s on Wednesday. An all new front-row and a minor re-jig of the back-row will freshen things up, but Watsonians appear to have got past their mid-season wobble with four wins from their last four outings.

Momentum, a settled squad, home advantage and the carrot of getting their play-off place secured weights this contest firmly in four of a HOME WIN.

 

Current table (updated post Bulls v Bears match) 


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About David Barnes 3908 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.