THE four sides which opened this Super Series Sprint campaign with wins face off against each other in the Friday night games of round two.
Watsonians head coach Stevie Scott has gone with selection continuity as the reigning champions look to build on last week’s victory over Southern Knights in another home match against Edinburgh A, with the only change in his pack being Campbell Wilson taking over from the benched Karl Main at openside. In the backline, Murray Scott replaces Murdo McAndrew at scrum-half, and Angus Guthrie moves to outside centre in place of Lewis Berg and Scott King comes onto the wing.
“The bench has got a good youthful feel to it with the first involvement for Craig Davidson and Finn Thomson,” Scott added. “It’s also good to see Ben Reily in the squad after being with us all pre-season and making an impact in our warm-up match against Heriot’s.
“Edinburgh got off to good start last week and will be looking to put another good performance together. It’s a great opportunity for our boys to front up against full time players and I know everyone at the club is looking forward to it. Its going to be a physical game.
Edinburgh A have also kept changes to a minimum. Patrick Harrison and Bruce Houston have both been given a chance to start after scoring off the bench last week, Murray McCallum heads back east to start at openside after turning our Glasgow A last week, while former Worcester player Will Butler is guesting in our match day squad, ahead of his move to College Rifles RFC in Auckland.
“Watsonians bring a lot of physicality whenever they play, so it’s an exciting opportunity for our younger guys to come up against that challenge,” said coach Rob Chrystie. “Last week’s match at Heriot’s was a great occasion for the club, and we’re looking forward to the same again at Myreside tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Ayrshire Bulls head coach Pat MacArthur has rewarded Grant Baird for his impact off the bench in last weekend’s win over Glasgow Warriors A by handing him the No 9 shirt against Stirling Wolves. Chris Elliot comes in for injured Jamie Shedden, pairing up with Bobby Beattie in the centre, and Lewis McNamara slots in to the second-row after an abrasive impact against Glasgow A.
“Stirling seem to have recruited well and showed a well structured game plan against Boroughmuir Bears,” said MacArthur. “With a strong maul and direct game plan between the 15s and with Stirling looking to play a fast offloading game in the wide channels, they pose a threat if we allow them to dictate the game. I have challenged my boys to back up the intensity shown against Glasgow and with a few tweaks to our game-plan it should be an entertaining game with hopefully another big crowd at Millbrae.”
Continuity is also clearly key as far as Stirling Wolves head coach Eddie Pollock is concerned, with only one enforced change to the side which started last weekend’s home win over Boroughmuir Bears, which involves Stevie Hamilton replacing the injured Fin Callaghan on the wing.
There are, however, a number of changes on the bench with the experienced prop Adam Woods and ex Scotland U20 back-row ake Spurway the adding to the forwards cover. James Imrie, an exciting young scrum-half from our club side, comes in for his first Super Series experience.
“We were pleased with the win at home last week delivering a good second half performance scoring three good tries and controlling the territory with a strong defensive effort,” said Pollock. “We have improved performance levels over the three games we have played so far [two friendlies and last weekend’s campaign opener], however we are in no doubt about the challenge facing us this Friday against Ayrshire Bulls at Millbrae.
“For me it’s the toughest away trip in the competition and if you want to come away with points you need to be at your best. Bulls are a well coached, physical side who have already shown themselves to be one of the teams to beat after their excellent win against Glasgow A. We need to raise our level of performance again if we are to come away with a positive result . ”
Watsonians (versus Edinburgh A at Myreside on Friday 14th April – kick-off 7.35pm): D Coetzer; L MacPherson, A Guthrie, J Baggott, S King; L Millar©, M Scott; H Courtney, C Davies, M Wilson, L Ball, J Berrisford, S Cecil, C Wilson, N Irvine-Hess. Subs: F Duraj, C Davidson, G Scougall, K Watt, J Morris, K Main, F Thompson, B Reily.
Edinburgh A: N Sweeney; F Douglas, C Scott, C Hutchison, B Evans; B Houston, C Jones; M McCallum, P Harrison, A Williams, J Campbell, P Phillips, G Young, L McConnell©, R Brown. Subs: A McBurney, R Deans, D Gamble, M Badenhiorst, A McCallum, F Burgess, W Butler, L Wells.
Key battle: Cal Davies versus Patrick Harrison
Verdict: Watsonians are a team who know how to win and with home advantage they will make it two from two here.
Ayrshire Bulls (versus Stirling Wolves at Millbrae on Friday 14th April – kick-off 7.35pm): E Caven; T Glendinning, B Beattie, C Elliot, L Bardelli; R Simpson, G Baird; A Nimmo, G Stewart, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, L McNamara, R Sweeney, B Jardine, B Macpherson©. Subs: T Brown, W Farquhar, C Miller, E Hamilton-Bulger, R Jackson, R Cullen, K Yule, C Elliot.
Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; S Hamilton, R Southern C Jardine, K Winters; M Holden ©, K McGhie; G Breese, G Hiddleston, M Tomasaitis, H Ferguson, J Pow, R Knott, C Gordon co-©, B Grant. Subs: R Kennedy,A Woods, L Quarm, R Hart, J Spurway, S MacDonals, J Imrie, C Jackson.
Key battle: Ryan Southern versus Bobby Beattie
Verdict: Ayrshire Bulls outplayed Glasgow Warriors A last weekend with an impressive combination of grit up front against an experienced and muscular visiting pack, and incisive running behind. More of the same will bring them a second victory on the bounce.