Super Series Friday night: Watsonians hunt precision against Ayrshire Bulls

Two old Glasgow hookers – Pat MacArthur and Fraser Brown – lock horns at Millbrae

Reiss Cullen in action for Ayrshire Bulls versus Watsonians during last year's Super Series Championship. Image: George McMillan
Reiss Cullen in action for Ayrshire Bulls versus Watsonians during last year's Super Series Championship. Image: George McMillan

WATSONIANS head coach Fraser Brown has challenged his team to make amends after letting themselves down through a lack of precision during the first half of last weekend’s Super Series Sprint round one defeat to Heriot’s, when they visit an Ayrshire Bulls side who got their campaign off to a flyer with a comprehensive home win over the current Championship holders Stirling Wolves.

The former Glasgow Warriors and Scotland hooker, who announced his retirement from playing rugby earlier this week, has made four personnel changes to his starting XV for the trip to Millbrae. Winger Ryan Coetzer comes in for Lomond MacPherson, joining brother Dom in the back-three in the only alteration behind the scrum. Meanwhile, hooker Gavin Parry and tight-head Bobby Bratton replace Finn Duraj and Craig Davidson in the front-row, Luis Ball shifts from the back to the middle-row in place of the benched Kieran Watt, while Seb Cecil and Oli Gordon (in place of last week’s skipper Neil Irvine-Hess) are the new flankers.

“Games between Watsonians and Ayr have consistently been highly physical, bruising and entertaining games. I’d expect nothing less again this weekend,” said Brown. “Ayr are always strong up front – powerful at set-piece and in the contact area. Out wide, they have pace and power with some really exciting young backs.


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“We let ourselves down last week with our precision in the first quarter of the game, giving away easy ball to clinical Heriot’s side,” he added. “The response through the week has been excellent and the team we have named is excited and motivated to put last weeks learnings into action on Friday.”

Meanwhile, home head coach, Pat MacArthur – another former Glasgow Warriors and Scotland hooker, albeit he hung up his pro boots six years ago despite being only a year older than Brown – has made three changes to his starting line-up.

Former Ealing Trailfinder and Team GB Sevens player Marcus Kershaw swaps in at full-back for the benched Robbie Orr, and Lewis McNamara replaces the injured Ryan Sweeney at blindside flanker.

Finally, Luca Bardelli is on Glasgow duty – which presumably means he is playing for an Edinburgh/Glasgow ‘A’ select team in a friendly game against Black Lion at Hive Stadium tonight [Thursday], although the SRU remains weirdly reluctant to share information on these sorts of endeavours – so he is replaced on the wing by Mason Cullen.

“Watsonians will have a point to prove after their result last weekend and are a team that likes to move the ball so we will need to be at our best,” said MacArthur. “Our players will be determined to build momentum and maintain the level of performance from last week’s game.”

 

Ayrshire Bulls (v Watsonians in round two of Super Series Sprint at Millbrae on Friday @ 7.35pm): M Kershaw; J Shedden, A Stirrat, B Beattie, M Cullen; D McCartney, R Cullen; J Drummond, J Malcolm, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, L McNamara, T Brown, B MacPherson ©. Replacements: A McGuire, J Shearer, R Tanner, O Baird, C Elliot, F Johnston, T Glendinning, R Orr.

Watsonians: D Coetzer; R Coetzer, L Berg, F Thomson, J Mitchell; J Baggott ©, M Scott; R Deans, G Parry, B Bratton, L Ball, J Parkinson, S Cecil, O Gordon, K Van Niekerk. Replacements: F Duraj, C Davidson, C Lamberton, K Watt, A McInnes, H Flinn, S Clark, J Brown.

Referee: Finlay Brown

Key battle: Bobby Beattie versus Fin Thomson

Verdict: Millbrae momentum continues.


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About David Barnes 3989 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.

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