Super Series Sprint: Ayrshire Bulls beat Southern Knights to go top of table

Visitors bounce back after last weekend's loss to secure a bonus point victory at the Greenyards

Blair Macpherson led from the front as Ayrshire Bulls returned to winning ways against Southern Knights at the Greenyards. Image: © Craig Watson -
Blair Macpherson led from the front as Ayrshire Bulls returned to winning ways against Southern Knights at the Greenyards. Image: © Craig Watson -

Southern Knights 24

Ayrshire Bulls 45

ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards

AYRSHIRE BULLS reasserted themselves in the Super Series Sprint to achieve a substantial bonus point win over Southern Knights that propels the Millbrae side to the top of the table after four rounds of the competition. 

It was what the Bulls needed after suffering defeat to Boroughmuir Bears last weekend as their head coach, Pat McArthur confirmed. “We needed a bounce back after a bit of a hiccup last week,” he said. “Today was all about individual intent. Individually the boys stepped up”.

Central to the Bulls’ attack as the visitors steadily piled on the points in the first half was veteran stand-off Frazier Climo, whose understanding of the game remains undiminished. “Frazier’s been sitting in the background doing a lot of work with Richie Simpson [the Scotland under-20s stand-off]  but he’s also been doing a lot of training. He’s a quality player. He’s played professional rugby all over the globe and you can see it. He wants to play a bit of rugby before the end of his career,” stated McArthur.

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Bulls physicality and their better use of the ball behind the scrum gave the visitors a significant advantage but there was little question that Knights contributed in no small way to their defeat. Too often they spilled ball but their main weakness in the first half especially was a loss of concentration in defence that made life a tad too easy for Climo and his cohorts.

“It was good and bad today,” admitted Knights’ backs coach, Scott Wight. “When we’re bad the lads seemed to switch off. You get yourself into the game and then concede straight away and at this level you can’t afford to do that.

“At other times we showed an inability to look after ball. But, look, it’s the next step up: when we’re good we can play some nice rugby but we have to try to get a more consistent approach over the 80 minutes. Bottom line is that we’re not getting a foothold in the game for long enough to win matches.”

After soaking up early pressure from the visitors, Southern Knights struck with a 45 metre penalty from stand-off Callum Grieve only for the Ayrshire men to reply in style when full-back Eli Caven took an inside pass before using his pace to scorch over the line.

Bulls then extended their lead from a break by Climo that gave centre Jamie Shedden a comfortable stroll to the line for his side’s second try, successfully converted by Craven.

Southern Knights should have made inroads to the points deficit when Rudi Brown broke clear from a mini ruck on the Bulls’ 22 but with the line beckoning the scoring pass went awry.

It proved an expensive miss because minutes later Bulls were throwing into a line-out five metre from the Knights’ line courtesy of the educated left boot of Climo. In the event the visitors did not mess up a prime scoring chance, their driving maul producing a try for Grant Stewart, the score again converted by Caven.

Just before half time, Knights finally achieved the score they had sought, after driving a penalty-created line-out to give hooker Ben McLean his side’s first try, converted from wide out by Grieve to leave the visitors ahead 19-10 at the break.


Knights looked more purposeful at the beginning of the second half but it was Bulls who claimed the first score of the post interval period, with a penalty try from a collapsed driving maul that resulted in replacement prop Dan Gamble being shown the yellow card.

Bulls wasted no time in taking advantage of the extra man, scoring after a dominant five metre scrum when Rory Jackson dived over in the corner for an unconverted try.  Then from the restart Luca Bardelli was put in the clear to use his exceptional pace for his side’s fifth try, converted by Christian Townsend.

In the middle of what had been a moderately pacific match a fracas suddenly ensued, the cost of which was yellow cards shown to Bulls’ second-row Ed Bloodworth and Knights’ replacement hooker Russell Anderson.

The effect was to raise the intensity of Knights’ game, the home side scoring for a second time in the match via a driving maul, No 8 Brown claiming the honours, and Grieve making it a seven pointer.

But from the restart kick Bulls gained possession, which they made the most of through a series forceful surges before skipper Blair Macpherson ran in under the posts, leaving Townsend with an easy conversion kick.

Jackson then looked certain to grab a second try when he broke clear but Knights’ scramble defence managed to prevent the score.

At the other end, Jackson’s opposite number, Clark Skeldon, showed no hesitation in scoring his try with a powerful run to the Bulls’ line. Grieve’s conversion helping his side finish with a respectable points tally even if somewhat less than Bulls’ total.


Teams –

Southern Knights: O Melville; A Cross, R Chalmers, A Hall, P Anderson; C Grieve, R Brand; J Dobie, B McLean, E Harrison, C Skeldon, E Demirel, S Derrick, A Ferrie, R Brown. Substitutes: R Anderson©, C Bachurzewski, D Gamble, J Campbell, G Young, C Davidson, H Rutherford, M Wilson.

Ayrshire Bulls: E Caven; L Bardelli, J Shedden, K Yule, T Glendinning; F Climo, G Baird; A Nimmo, G Stewart, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, A Smeaton, B Jardine, B Macpherson©. Substituties: R Sweeney, J Drummond, C Miller, E Hamilton-Bulger, L McNamara, R Cullen, C Townsend, C Elliot.

Referee: Sam O’Neil


Scorers –

Southern Knights: Tries: McLean, Brown, Skeldon; Cons: Grieve 3; Pens: Grieve.

Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Caven, Shedden, Stewart, Penalty Try, Jackson, Bardelli, Macpherson; Cons: Caven 2, Townsend 2.

Scoring Sequence (Southern Knights first): 3-0; 3-5; 3-10; 3-12, 3-17; 3-19; 8-19, 10-19 (ht) 10-26; 10-31, 10-36; 10-38; 15-38; 17-38; 17-43; 17-45; 22-45; 24-45.


Yellow cards –

Southern Knights: Gamble (45mins), Anderson (52mins)

Ayrshire Bulls: Bloodworth (52mins)


Man-of-the-Match: Ayrshire Bulls needed an intensity in their physicality and none provided this more than skipper Blair Macpherson whose go-forward surges contributed hugely to his side’s confidence and the packs dominance in the frontal exchanges.

Talking point: Southern Knights looked as though last week’s game against Edinburgh A might have been a turning point in their season. Ayrshire Bulls however did not take long to disabuse the Greenyards side of that notion and it appears that the Borderers may have to be patient in building confidence. As for the Bulls, they are definitely back in business and will be looking forward to their meeting with Heriot’s at Millbrae in two weeks.

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About Alan Lorimer 295 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.


  1. From memory Hawick did submit a bid to join Super 6 but they were unsuccessful. What they have done since then has been a great example of a strong club side so they may retrospectively be happy they missed out but they were absolutely interested, as they wanted to be at the highest standard possible.

  2. Well said Grob.
    Melrose will never get the support of other Borders clubs. For so long now they have only cared about themselves to the detriment of other clubs in the area.
    Recently they have attempted a PR exercise to address this, all to no avail but hardly surprising, their latest action to try and sign up a fellow borders club successful YDO officer. On top of this the way they treat other Scottish clubs at their sevens…..and they wonder why they are despised by everyone!!!

    • Melrose have not had a YDO all season since Iain Chisholm left for Peebles last Summer which is yet another example of the dire position Melrose must be in financially. Surely no club would choose not to have a YDO ?? A YDO is generally regarded as a necessity by nearly all senior clubs and not having a genuine YDO will impact negatively on youth development , player and coach development etc. This issue alone speaks volumes for Melrose priorities , or lack of them. Club volunteers can’t fill these busy roles properly and a real concern for the youth and club membership that Melrose have not had a YDO for a year…..

    • Borders Rugby …. Yeh , rumour has it Melrose are attempting to poach Iain Chisholm from Peebles, if he has any sense at all he will stay as far away as possible from this nest of vipers. Why would anyone in their right mind would want to be involved at Melrose ?
      Poor form from Melrose rugby if this is true but let’s be honest , they have shown repeatedly over the years how low they are prepared to go….

      • Shiely84 Just out of interest, how do you think Peebles got Iain Chisholm from Melrose in the first place? Is that not considered poaching? Or does that not fit your agenda?

    • So we have someone thinking they speak on behalf of everyone and someone else using a rumour to spew hatred both to pursue their own anti-Melrose agendas. So much for the spirit of rugby!

  3. This game again watched by 3 men and a dog . At what point does this exercise become untenable. The long-standing apathy by the others Borders towns towards Super 6 just means the Knights franchise is doomed to failure. The only way the Knights concept survives is if they have the support of the Borders clubs and this is never going to happen. The continuation of the Knights will end up with a straight choice of existence between the Melrose club and the Knights , the resources are not sustainable enough to maintain both as going concerns.
    Some very difficult times ahead for the Melrose club and Knights and maybe it’s time to cut their losses before it ends very painfully.
    I disagree with Mr Milne to an extent in that I think that the top 3 /4 Premiership clubs would be competitive against the Knights and maybe Boroughmuir but not the other Super 6 teams where there is a definite gap in quality.

    • GRob, you do not have a clue. Several of the Hawick team this year were ex Knights players who were probably on more money than they were earning at Melrose. ( Little, Renwick, Suddon, Mitchell, the list goes on ). Small fish in a big pond but all the best in the Scottish Cup Final at 6pm on Saturday Night at Murrayfield. Big bonus money awaits 👍

      • “In the Know” consistently posts to show how little he actually knows. As a rule of thumb if you take the very opposite of what he posts as being the truth you won’t be far wrong.

  4. Dodson at the Cup Final? Some chance. Even less chance that he would actually talk to rugby supporters.

      • I reckon you’d get on very well with Mr Dodson. Two peas from the same pod with your attitude to others.

  5. Yesterday I went onto Youtube to see if there was any local rugby being shown to find a live broadcast of the Knights’game at the Greenyards.
    Not having watched a S6 match before I thought I’ll give it a go so I stayed the course till the final whistle.
    Certainly Bulls were a superior side but what struck me having watched some 20 Premiership games this season was that any one of the top Premiership teams; Hawks,Accies, Currie, Marr or Hawick could have given either of Knights or Bulls a run for their money !
    If you take the two playing squads plus their back up staff and officials yesterday they probably amounted to more people than those watching from the stands.
    What is the point of this competition ?The public aren’t interested.
    The players would be better employed in Prem 1 and National league 1 where at least they’d have interested spectators attending.
    Two lads in the Knights from Gala the commentator said, they’d be better off back at Netherdale helping that famous club to prosper as would young Christian Townsend who also has Gala connections but who seems to play for lots of teams other than Gala.
    This flawed product nicknamed Stupid 6 needs to go and SRU attention turned instead to the club game where our future stars will emerge from.
    Let’s look forward to the Cup next weekend at Murrayfield where two top club teams will attract plenty of interested spectators showcasing our club game.
    If Mr Dodson is at the Cup Final I’d love to have a chat with him.

    • Just noticed next weeks finals .
      no finals on tv
      OnlyWomens final live on BBC Alba .

      What’s that about ?
      That would be a great chance to show club rugby finals to the masses .
      But once again Murrayfield not interested to promote Prem or National league rugby .
      And who made the decision to not allow all finals on main pitch .

    • I am not going to discus other points in your comments but having watched our Blues in the Prem and the Super 6 side I’m sorry to disagree but there is a gulf in class between the 2 competitions and the prem clubs couldn’t live in the Super 6 league.

      • Iain, the S6 teams have free reign sign whoever they want from club rugby as well as the support of academy players and fringe pros from week to week and Scottish rugby provides them with significant resources to the tune of what must be well over £1m across the 6 teams. In that regard you’d expect there to be a irrefutable gulf in class between say the Southern knights and Hawick. However, I don’t think any rational observer would deny that Hawick would without doubt provide a stern test at the very least and in reality have at.leastban evens chance of victory over the Knights and several of the other S6 teams, even without the benefit of the academy and fringe pros that the Knights may have access to.

    • Can I ask you why you among many others keep blaming Mark Dodson for Super 6. I suggest you do your homework and research into why Super 6 came about.

      • This is the beginning of an article detailing the S6 proposals from this website dated 05/08/2017. (It won’t allow me to post the actual link but it can easily be found by googling it). It is headed “Dodson’s dream: Everything there is to know about Scottish Rugby’s ‘Super Six’ proposal”.

        AFTER a week of feverish speculation, Mark Dodson finally gave a full and frank insight into his plan to transform the structure of, and the strategy for, club rugby in this country, when he addressed this morning’s annual general meeting at BT Murrayfield.

        Scottish Rugby’s chief executive officer explained that the finer details of the scheme still need to be thrashed out but his comprehensive overview of what he has in mind makes it clear that this is much more than a half-cooked flight of fancy.
        The working name for this plan is Agenda 3 and Dodson wasn’t asking clubs if they like what they are hearing – he was telling them that this is the way it is going to be.

        He described it as “a blueprint for sustainable clubs” and insisted that “it will herald an overhaul of the sport in Scotland and offer solutions to problems that have undermined our game for nearly 30 years.”
        “This plan is not radical – it is simply overdue. In the very unlikely event that we don’t receive sufficient bids, the SRU will look to create wholly the franchises to drive the recommendation through,” he stated.

        The details of Agenda 3 are listed below –
         The BT Premiership is to be dissolved and replaced with a six team franchise competition created from existing club structures, known as the ‘Super Six’.

        I think it is you who need to do your homework or to improve on your very selective memory Iain.

    • Mr Bruce clearly a man of hawick,
      Intresting what Mr Bruce will say if hawick apply to the stupid 6 oh sorry Mr Bruce it’s not the super 6 now check the current news

      • I think Hawick have far too much sense and understanding of what a rugby club is all about to ever contemplate that!


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