DESPITE managing to pop top of the table Ayrshire Bulls’ unbeaten bubble three weekends ago, Boroughmuir Bears still find themselves stranded in the lower reaches of the Super Series Sprint table and need a win over Watsonians at Meggetland tomorrow [Friday] night if they are to retain a realistic chance of avoiding the wooden-spoon play-off in a fortnight’s time.
Kick-off for Boroughmuir Bears versus Watsonians on Friday night is at 7.35pm and tickets for the match can be purchased by clicking HERE.
They may be up against the reigning Sprint and Championship title holders, but Bears head coach Graham Shiel believes the recent fallow week will help his team’s chances of causing an upset.
With Andy McLean injured, Tom Quinlan returns at stand-off for the hosts, and he is partnered at half-back by the recalled Ruaridh Swan. Meanwhile, loose-head prop Brandon Sweet is rewarded for his recent performances off the bench by being handed his first start of the campaign ahead of Iain Carmichael. There are no other changes in the home starting line-up.
“I was proud of the improvements we made in round three [against Bulls], but frustrated by the outcome of round four when we allowed Heriot’s to build a lead, and whilst we managed territory and possession well in the second half, the margin was too big to overcome,” reflected Shiel.
“A chance to recharge and refresh last week was appreciated by all, with the challenges only getting bigger as we now turn our attention to our closest neighbours, Watsonians. They are a very complete outfit, who have quality and depth throughout their squad, and continue to perform consistently in all games.
“Our previous encounters against Watsonians have been very tough and we know that the level of physicality that they bring demands respect. This game continues to afford opportunities for the Bears to grow and improve, but at the same time, we are aware that results play a part in competitive rugby.
“The challenge lies within the group and, regardless of our opposition, our aim remains consistent – to make improvements in our performance, enabling us to become more competitive at this level. We are working hard to find ways to build momentum. Achieving consistency in performances week-in week-out is our next focus.
Watsonians head coach Stevie Scott knows his side cannot risk a slip-up as they battle for a place in the 1st/2nd place play-off.
“Away at Meggetland on a Friday night will be another tough challenge for the boys,” he said. “With this being our third away game on the trot, the players know the focus that is required to win away from home after a good result last time out against Stirling Wolves.
“The Bears will be looking to bounce back from their game with Heriot’s and produce a performance like they did against Ayrshire Bulls.
“A week’s break has allowed us to get a few players back from injury,” he added. “Bringing back two experienced players to the pack in Harrison Courtney and Karl Main will add power to our game, and there is also a first start in this competition for Bobby Bratton.
“In the backs, we have Scott King starting at 12 alongside George Pringle, who was excellent last time out. Unfortunately, our captain, Lee Millar, will be missing through injury but this gives Jack Brown his first start at full-back. When Jack and [fellow teenager] Hector Patterson came on at Stirling in a tight game, they both performed well. I’m delighted for them and its great for the competition.|
Boroughmuir Bears: C Ramm; M Cullen, A Thom, S Robeson, J Jenkins; T Quinlan, R Swan; B Sweet, C Tait, M McGinley. J King, J Fisher, C Keddie ©, S McGinley, T Andrews. Substitutes: J Blyth-Lafferty, I Carmichael, L Alessandri, S Whittaker, K Westlake, B Young, G Paul, A Scott.
Watsonians: J Brown; R McKnight, G Pringle, S King, A Guthrie; J Baggott, M McAndrew; H Courtney, C Davies ©, R Bratton, L Ball, J Berrisford, S Cecil, K Main, N Irvine-Hess. Substitutes: F Duraj, C Davidson, G Scougall, K Watt, J Morris, H Patterson, F Thomson, B Riley.
Key battle: Trystan Andrews versus Neil Irvine-Hess
Verdict: Watsonians head coach Stevie Scott’s willingness to give youth its head with the selection of Jack Brown is to be commended, but there is also a hardcore of experienced winners throughout the match-day squad, who should offer enough know-how in terms of getting the job done against a Boroughmuir team still looking to make the leap from being competitive to being authoritative on a consistent basis.