Super Series round two preview: Wolves v Bulls and Watsonians v Knights

Runners, riders, key battle and verdict

Blair Macpherson will, as ever, head from the front for Ayrshire Bulls versus Stirling Wolves. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Blair Macpherson will, as ever, head from the front for Ayrshire Bulls versus Stirling Wolves. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

AFTER sitting out round one of the 2023 Super Series Championship, Stirling Wolves know that they’ll need to hut the ground running against an Ayrshire Bulls side who won the Spring Sprint but will be hurting and desperate to bounce back after their home defeat to Watsonians last weekend.

The Bridgehaugh men have been on a recruitment drive over the summer, with a couple of powerful ball-carriers added to the back-row in the shape of Ed Hasdell (from Heriot Watt University) and Ed Timpson (from Nottingham University), while former Scottish Rugby Academy prospect Ross McKnight returns on the wing following a stint at Watsonians. Cameron Scott (a 10/12 from Cardiff University) and Sam Rockley (a former Scotland Under-18s winger from London Scottish) are on the bench.

Scotland international Allan Dell has been released by Glasgow Warriors through the pro player draft to get some much-needed game-time following an injury-ravaged 2022-23 season at loose-head prop.


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“The squad have worked hard in pre-season and had a successful hit out against the new Scottish Futures XV two weeks back,” said head coach Eddie Pollock. “The core of our coaching group and Sprint playing squad is back for the Championship and we are excited about continuing to develop the exciting brand of rugby shown in the Spring.”

Bulls have lost prop Jamie Drummond and second-row Ed Bloodworth through injury but that is at least partially offset by the return of Scotland-capped hooker Grant Stewart, while international stand-off Ross Thompson is released by Glasgow Warriors to get game-time. Oscar Baird, looking to make his debut for the Bulls, comes onto the bench.

“It’s a short turnaround this week and we are looking for a reaction after a disappointing result against Watsonians,” said MacArthur. “We know Stirling recruited well and we’ll need to take our opportunities when they come. The players trained well this week and we’ll look to carry that into the game on Friday.”

 

Stirling Wolves (versus Ayrshire Bulls at Bridgehaugh on Friday at 7.35pm): G Bryce; M Heron, M Holden©, C Jardine, R McKnight; C Jackson, K McGhie; A Dell, G Hiddleston, M Tamosaitis, H Ferguson, J Pow, T Smith, C Gordon, E Hasdell. Substitutes: R Kennedy, L Quarm, L Skinner, S Macdonald, E Timpson, E Davey, C Scott, S Rockley.

Ayrshire Bulls: C Hyde; T Glendinning, R Beattie, A Stirrat, L Bardelli; R Thompson, F Johnston; A Nimmo, G Stewart, W Farquhar, L McNamara, R Jackson, R Sweeney, T Brown, B Macpherson©. Substituties: A McGuire, C Miller, R Tanner, E Bulger-Hamilton, O Baird, R Cullen, C Elliot, B Rodrick-Evans.

Key battle: Connor Gordon versus Tim Brown

Verdict: With a game under their belt and a point to prove after last weekend, the Bulls should have an edge over a Stirling Wolves side who may need some more bedding-in time. Narrow away win.

Referee: Ian Kenny

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Nikki Walker was in no mood to let his team rest on their laurels after last weekend’s gritty win at Millbrae when he selected his team to face Southern Knights tomorrow [Friday] night, with six of his seven changes to the squad being as reward for the impact the Watsonians bench had against the Bulls.

Full-back Charlie Welsh (on loan from Hawick), centre George Pringle, hooker Jake Kerr, tight-head prop Gregor Scougall and second-rows Kieran Watt and Kwagga van Niekerk swapping into they side, while Murdo McAndrewreturns on the bench to face his old team after recovering from a knock picked up in pre-season.

“After last week’s match at Ayrshire Bulls in very difficult wet conditions we are all looking forward to getting back to Myreside, which is in glorious condition for our first home game of the campaign,” said Walker. “Friday night fixtures at Myreside always add a little extra excitement for everyone and are especially popular with the players.

“That excitement has been channeled in the right direction this week with hard work as we all realise there are lots of improvements still to be made.  Southern Knights will be very confident after their win and performance last week while we are fully aware of the threats they will pose.”

Opposite number Alan Tait has been forced to bring in a couple of emergency loan players in the pack in the shape of Will Ferrie (on the bench) from Melrose and Clark Skeldon (starting second-row) from Jed-Forest. Meanwhile, new signing Theo Nwosu-Hope from Rotherham Titans makes his debut at blindside flanker.

Rory Brand is out with a knee injury, so Chris Bell starts at scrum-half alongside Gregor McNeish, who will captain the side on debut. The powerful Callum Barratt who impressed off the bench last week gets a start on the wing while Monroe Job, fresh from scoring two tries in Scotland Under-20s’ win over Samoa at the Junior World Trophy in Kenya last Sunday, is on the bench alongside his erstwhile Selkirk club-mate Ryan Godsmark who link up with the group this week.

“We have to focus on ourselves and what we need to deliver throughout the 80 minutes,” said Tait. “We need to build a performance which will put teams under pressure, and we need to be ruthless and target the scoreboard when given the opportunities.

“Every game in Super Series is going to be a real test for all the teams. The competition has improved and got better and the Future XV showed that last week [when pushing Knight all the way],” said Tait,. We know individual and collective performances need to kick-on between the weeks and we look forward to seeing how players react.”

 

Watsonians (versus Southern Knights at Myreside on Friday @ 7.35pm): C Welsh; K McGovern, G Pringle, S King, F Owsley; J Baggott, M Scott; D Voas, J Kerr, G Scougall, K Watt, K van Niekerk, S Cecil, C Wilson, N Irvine-Hess©. Substitutes: C Davies, G Shiells, M Wilson, A Scopes, L Ball, M McAndrew, L Berg, D Wilson.

Southern Knights: D Crawford; A Cross, H Bentley, C Grieve, C Barrett; G McNeish©, C Bell; C Greer, L Thompson, D Gamble, A Ferrie, C Skeldon, T Nwosu-Hope, G Young, H Borthwick.  Substitutes: R Anderson, J Dobie, A Dodds, W Ferrie, M Job, R Godsmark, H Rutherford, R Cottrell.

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell

Key battle: Neil Irvine-Hess versus Harry Borthwick

Verdict: Home advantage, a settled squad and confidence from last week’s impressive victory over pre-tournament favourites Ayrshire Bulls makes it hard to see past Watsonians. Home win.


That was the month that was: July 2023

About David Barnes 3995 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.

12 Comments

  1. Fascinating comments there Dave.

    Interesting you didnt answer the actual question Walter asked. One I’ve wondered about my self. Super 6 was dreamed up in conjunction with Agenda 3. I’m sure you are all over the detail of both schemes but just to refresh your memory, amateur players were never to play pro rugby. Nothing about it’s ok as long as the semi pro/part time sides need players. It’s why S6 players are stopped from flitting between S6 and club rugby without being able to return to S6 after 12 months.

    Unsurprisingly as the needs of Murrayfield have shifted and S6 hasn’t delivered the sort of player transition that they hoped for, the injury toll on S6 players is forcing the licence clubs to dip into clubland to fill their vacancies.

    I mean who didn’t see that inserting an U20 side into the competition during the U20 championship would cause problems? Well almost everybody except those paid to manage our game.

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  2. Can someone please explain why the Super serious is a Bette vehicle than the Scottish Prem at developing young players ?. Is the standard really that much higher ? Barring in mind they play in Spring and Summer

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  3. When Dodson’s farce Super 6 started it stated their semi pro players were not allowed in any way to play against amateur players from lower leagues because of the injury risks involved with the physicality desparities
    .
    To make up teams now they’re drafting in players from amateur teams .
    Crazy .
    Sticking plaster competition …just making it up as they go along …
    Making a mockery of Scottish rugby

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    • Give it a rest Walter. You don’t understand what you are commenting on and it’s very dull. It’s you and five other commentators who write something negative on every superseries article. The rest of the world has moved on….

      *Let’s see how many of those five comment on this article saying superseries is the reason for the u20s being crap, the senior team not winning the World Cup and the record temperatures in southern Europe.

      **Record temperatures in southern Europe are definitely mark Dodson’s fault- BRITISH GAS MURRAYFIELD

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      • Rest of the world doesn’t seem to be bothering to attend S6 games. You may hate the fact that some people care about Scottish Rugby but they have every right to voice their concerns. You are free to not read what they have to say and indulge in the fantasy that Scottish Rugby isn’t failing at every level. It’s astonishingly arrogant to assume that noone is allowed to question the status quo because you don’t want to. A lot of these people who you look down on make valuable contributions to the grass roots of the sport in this country and are speaking from direct experience of what is going wrong. They actually want to see things improve. Something similar happened in Ireland 2000s and it seems to have worked out quite well for them when they tried to confront the problems head on instead of shouting down the plebs for wanting improvement….

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      • Dave Gordon.
        This is a forum about opinions
        That’s mine and many others .you’ll have to deal with the fact that many are opposed to yours
        Interesting to see how many of the S6 teams are still in existence in the coming months ……then what will Dodson do.?

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      • That’s nine other commentators so far who think you are talking rubbish.

        Please try harder with your strawman arguments. This one was blown away by a slight breeze.

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      • Walter is making a very valid point Dave. Player welfare was inexplicably politicised by the SRU leadership to pursue a particular agenda which with it now falling apart at the seams has been conveniently dropped from the narrative. These are the actions of the people running our game and they are unacceptable. The Super 6 clubs are victims caught up in this nonsense as much as the rest of the clubs, if anything they are paying the heaviest price and will continue to do so if they so choose until a long term viable alternative that actually delivers on Scottish Rugby’s objectives is put in place.

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    • I understand what you are saying Walter but think it was to stop semi-pro players playing down – and rightly so. There is a difference in physically capable (and prepared) amateur players playing up though. Super series coaches aren’t going to select someone not physically ready. Will Ferrie and Angus Runciman for the Knights being examples

      • Sorry SilentKnight that’s irrelevant.

        I was at the SGMs to approve all this stuff. It was very explicit from Mr Dodson own mouth – amateurs won’t play against pros of which ever version.

        There weren’t any caveats – if coach thinks it’s ok.

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