Super Series Sprint: final spot up for grabs when Heriot’s host Stirling Wolves

Southern Knights are looking for first win of campaign when they host fellow strugglers Boroughmuir Bears

Heriot's and Stirling County shoot-it-out tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon for a chance to play for the Super Series Sprint title next weekend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Heriot's and Stirling County shoot-it-out tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon for a chance to play for the Super Series Sprint title next weekend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

A WIN for either Heriot’s or Stirling Wolves when they face each tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon in their final match of the regular Super Series Sprint season at Goldenacre will almost certainly book their place in the 1st/2nd place play-off next weekend against the winner of tonight match between Ayrshire Bulls and Watsonians at Millbrae.

  • Tickets for the Heriot’s versus Stirling Wolves match at Goldenacre with a 3pm kick are available HERE.

Both sides come into this match off the back of positive performances and results last weekend, with Heriot’s having battled back from 21-0 to draw 26-26 against Bulls, and it could have been an even better day for the Edinburgh side but they missed a late conversion attempt which could have secured a rare win at Millbrae.

Head coach Ben Cairns has made two changes, one forced and one unforced, to his backline. Lewis Wells, a long term injury call-up from Edinburgh Accies, coming in for Ben Evans, who has a knock, while Euan McAra starts ahead of the benched Cam Jones at scrum-half.


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In the pack, there is all change in the front-row, with Euan McLaren and Michael Liness rotating in for Struan Cessford and Cammy Fenton at tight-head prop and hooker respectively, while Chris Keen is injured so Josh Scott comes in to start at loosehead.

Both Ruairidh Leishman and Iain Wilson are unavailable and Euan McVie also picked up an injury last week, so Charlie Jupp moves to the second-row and there’s a whole new starting back0row with Cameron Cobbett and Sam Wallace coming in for deserved first starts and Callum Anderson regaining the No 8 jersey.

“Four teams in the running for the top two spots, with the top two playing each other on Friday night … you probably couldn’t have planned it to be any better set up for a mouthwatering weekend of Super Series rugby,” said Cairns ahead of facing his former club.

“Stirling Wolves and ourselves will know exactly what we require beforehand, which I am sure will only add to the excitement on the day. Stirling has been in good form throughout the Sprint showing real cohesion and consistency. They’ve made some really good signings and have a group who on their day can beat anyone in the league.

“Both sides play a similar brand of rugby so it’s likely going to come down to who can execute better on the day.

“We’ve spoken this week about tomorrow’s match being the best chance the club has ever had to make a Super6/Super Series final. A large part of this is down to the match being at home. We hope to have a good crowd spurring us on with fun for all the family planned and we are ready to do whatever it takes to get the desired outcome.”

Meanwhile, Eddie Pollock has added winger Mikey Heron, scrum-half Kyle McGhie and tight-head prop Marius Tamosaitis to his starting XV while Scotland Under-20s tight-head prop Callum Norrie will hopefully get some meaningful game time off the bench after limited opportunities since injuring his shoulder during the age-grade Six Nations.

“Goldenacre is always a difficult place to visit, and we expect a huge challenge from a much improved Heriot’s side who have only lost once this season to Edinburgh A,” said Pollock.” They have a strong forward pack with an excellent maul and some of their open play, phase play scores have been well crafted.

“We will need to be at our best in all areas of the game if we are to come away with the result we need to give us a chance of reaching the final two. Both teams want to play and I expect another exciting match in the Super Series Sprint which has already thrown up so many excellent high scoring fixtures.”

 

Meanwhile, both Southern Knights and Boroughmuir Bears already know their fate. Regardless of what happens in tomorrow evening’s clash at the Greenyards, the two sides are destined to lock horns again in the 5th/6th place play-off at Meggetland seven days later.

But home head coach Alan Tait insists that will not reduce his team’s determination to finally taste victory in the campaign for the first time.

“We picked up a few injuries on the road last week giving more opportunities for others to impress this week,” he explained. “In the pack, it’s great to see Will Hopes returning after injury in the Watsonians game [in round one] and he starts in the second-row with Jamie Campbell. Will is a good young prospect and we are really keen to see him go.

Callum Davidson starts at nine after a run of coming off the bench and has been making an impact in current weeks. On the bench Cammy Thompson is back from Kelso, Sam Derrick and Kieran Clark are also there and it will be good to see these young guys get a run.

“The Bears are a bit like us in that they have a lot of youngsters in the mix,” Tait added. “Physically, I think we match each other, and it is about attitude now at the end of this Sprint and when we will play them next week in the play-offs.

“We have struggled a little in our attack and getting the four tries that we keep talking about.  So, we want to go out and express ourselves and hopefully get the victory.”

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Tait’s opposite number, Graham Shiel, has been forced to make seven changes to the team which pushed Watsonians hards at Meggetland last weekend.

Scott Robeson takes over the captaincy this week from Craig Keddie [who is unavailable due to a family wedding].” he explained.” Scott has been a constant for Bears in the midfield in 2023 and invested heavily in the Bears program, so a natural and deserved honour to lead the Bears into round six.

“In the front-row, Luca Alessandri (loosehead) and Arthur Allen (hooker) both make their first start of the Super Series Sprint and Marcus Goodwin comes back in at tighthead after missing out last week.

“We are delighted to welcome Liam McConnell Into the side for his first game in 2023 replacing Keddie at blindside flanker, and Kieran Westlake takes over the reins at No 8 for his first start of the Sprint alongside the ever-present Scott McGinley, who becomes outright the most capped Bear this weekend.

“The Newcastle University duo Brodie Young and Tom Quinlan will be the starting half backs, while Adam Scott replace Callum Ramm at full-back.

“Again, there was a feeling of being pleased with our performance last week, but at the same time frustrated that we had to come from behind to take points from the game which were deserved and were hard earned,” said Shiel. “Giving teams a head start is never a great tactic to adopt.

“Training this week has been business as usual. Compliments to the players for their willingness and hunger to seek ways to improve every week whilst in competition, especially when results are not going our way. But improvement is high on the agenda and with only two games to go for this group, it is important to try and fulfil their potential before we break.

“Like ourselves, Southern Knights have had a tough Sprint season and have played some good rugby, but clearly not got results. It will be a tough game with both sides looking to get their season onto the tracks and whilst only bragging rights at stake, it is a fixture both teams will be desperate to win.

“Starting well is a key focus for us this week, so it is important to arrive in Melrose focused and ready to receive the challenge Southern Knights lay in front of us.”

 

Teams –

Heriot’s (versus Stirling Wolves at Goldenacre on Saturday @3pm): D King; M Gray, G Hughes ©, A Boyle, L Wells; B Houston, E McAra; J Scott, M Liness, E McLaren, C Jupp, R Seydak, C Cobbett, S Wallace, C Anderson. Substitutes: C Fenton, S Cessford, C Ramsay, A McCallum, L McGrigor, C Jones, R Jones J Couper.

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; L Jarvie, B Salmon, M Holden ©, M Heron; C Jackson, K McGhie; G Breese, G Hiddleston, M Tamosaitis, H Ferguson, J Pow, R Knott, C Gordon, B Grant. Substitutes: R Kennedy, A Woods, C Norrie, J Spurway, S Macdonald, F Burgess, C Jardine, G Smith.

Key clash: Euan McAra versus Kyle McGhie

Verdict: Heriot’s have home advantage, but Wolves have consistency in selection and an edge when it comes to experience  in key areas, which should be enough for an away win.

 

Southern Knights (versus Boroughmuir Bears at The Greenyards on Saturday @ 5pm): O Melville; A Cross, Z Smith, A Hall, F Douglas; C Grieve, C Davidson,; J Dobie, R Anderson ©, D Gamble, J Campbell, W Hopes, G Young, A Ferrie, R Brown. Substitutes: F Barry, C Greer, E Harrison, E Demirel, C Thompson, R Brand, K Clark, S Derrick.

Boroughmuir Bears: A Scott; M Cullen, A Thom, S Robeson, J Jenkins; T Quinlan, B Young; L Alessandri, A Allen, M Goodwin, J King, J Fisher, L McConnell, S McGinley, K Westlake. Substitutes: J Blyth Lafferty, I Carmichael, M McGinley, S Whittaker, T Andrews, R Swan, G Paul, C Ramm.

Key battle: Gary Young versus Liam McConnell

Verdict: Southern Knights really need this, and with nothing to lose, they will throw the kitchen sink at Bears to secure a home win.


Super Series Sprint: Southern Knights stay positive during tough campaign

About David Barnes 4026 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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