Super Series round one Saturday preview: Ayrshire Bulls host Watsonians

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Ryan Sweeney of Ayrshire Bulls and Kwagga van Niekerk of Watsonians will both be involved i tomorrow'x clash at Millbrae. Image: Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Ryan Sweeney of Ayrshire Bulls and Kwagga van Niekerk of Watsonians will both be involved i tomorrow'x clash at Millbrae. Image: Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SPRINT champions Ayrshire Bulls have several new faces sprinkled through an established spine in their team selection for Saturday’s Super Series Championship round one clash against Watsonians at Millbrae.

Full-back Chris Hyde, replacement scrum-half Fergus Johnston and replacement utility-back Aminio Bogidrau, who all played in the Premiership for relegated GHA last season, are in line for debuts. Meanwhile, Reiss Cullen returns as starting scrum-half after missing the second half of the Sprint through injury, while Rhodri Tanner is back at replacement hooker following a season playing in Portugal.

A bumper crowd is expected with the match part of the ‘Dash Of Pink’ charity event supporting cancer charities. Supporters are being asked to ‘dash’ straight from Somerset Park immediately after the final whistle of Ayr United’s Scottish League Cup clash against Alloa (kick-off 3pm) to make it to Millbrae (three and a half miles away) in time to catch the Bulls versus Watsonians match which kicks-off at 5.30pm. The Bulls are offering free entry for anyone with an Ayr United season or match ticket.

The procession will leave Somerset Park at 4.45pm. To donate or find our more, click HERE of email info@ayrrugbyclub.co.uk


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“It is always great to open the campaign at home in front of the Millbrae faithful,” said Bulls head coach Pat MacArthur. “To have Watsonians, the current [Championship] champions, first up will be tough and the players will have to hit the ground running. They also have a new set of coaches which will bring a bit of the unknown to the contest. Saturday promises to be a great occasion with the ‘Dash of Pink’ in aid of cancer charities looking to bring in a big crowd.”

The visitors, have similar blend of returning stalwarts and new faces. Freddie Owsley, who spent a year and a half on the books at Edinburgh between April 2021 and October 2022, will make his debut on the wing, Alfie Scopes, previously of Loughborough University, is in the second-row, and hooker Jake Kerr – who was capped by Scotland against Italy in 2019 – is named on the bench.

“Alongside these new additions, we are also very pleased to introduce Borders trio Grant Shiells and brother Gareth and Charlie Welsh,” said head coach Nikki Walker. “I am very appreciative of Kelso RFC and Hawick RFC for allowing them to be loaned to us for the weekend.  All three have come off the back off very successful seasons with those clubs in winning their domestic divisions and they will bring that experience of what it takes to win to Watsonians.

“We also have Donald Voas from Biggar RFC, Kody McGovern from Currie Chieftains and Danny Williamson from our own club team in the squad this week.

“Games against Ayrshire Bulls have always been very physical, intense and high scoring afffairs and I am sure this will be no different,” Walker added. “For Watsonians, this is a good opportunity to put a marker down and measure how hard we have worked and what progress has been made since the Sprint Series.  There has been a very good preparation for this week and we are all looking forward to the challenge that Millbrae always presents.”

 

Ayrshire Bulls (versus Watsonians at Millbrae on Saturday @ 7.35pm): C Hyde; T Glendinning, R Beattie, A Stirrat, L Bardelli; B Roderick-Evans, R Cullen; A Nimmo, A McGuire, C Miller, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, R Sweeney, L McNamara, B Macpherson©. Substituties: R Tanner, J Drummond, W Farquhar, E Bulger-Hamilton, T Brown, F Johnston, C Elliot, A Bogidrau.

Watsonians: D Williamson; K McGovern, L Berg, S King, F Owsley; J Baggott, M Scott; D Voas, C Davies, M Wilson, A Scopes, J Berrisford, L Ball, S Cecil, N Irvine-Hess©. Substitutes: J Kerr, G Shiells, G Scougall, K Watt, K van Niekerk, G Welsh, G Pringle, C Welsh.

Referee: Sam Gove-White

 

Key battle: Blair Macpherson versus Neil Irvine-Hess

Verdict: Watsonians won both the Sprint and the Championship in 2022, while Ayr won this year’s Sprint and claimed the 2021 Championship title, so these are the two most successful sides in the competition’s history. Home advantage and a settled pack should see the men from the west through. Home win.


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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.

2 Comments

  1. I’m sitting here watching the Bears v Heriots. Can somebody explain to me why there are polish and New Zealand players on the field when our under 20s need game time.
    This is madness.

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