Super Series Sprint preview: Heriot’s v Ayrshire Bulls and Watsonians versus Boroughmuir Bears

It's winner takes all at Goldenacre

Heriot's got the better of Ayrshire Bulls the last time the two sides met, during the Super Series Championship in October. Image: Jonathan Cruickshank
Heriot's got the better of Ayrshire Bulls the last time the two sides met, during the Super Series Championship in October. Image: Jonathan Cruickshank

IT will be ‘do-or-die’ at Goldenacre tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon when Heriot’s host Ayrshire Bulls in the final round of the Super Series Sprint regular season with play-off seedings on the line.

The hosts know that they need a win, probably with a bonus-point depending on how Stirling Wolves get on against Southern Knights at the Greenyards tonight.

Meanwhile, the Bulls start the weekend as the league’s front-runners so a draw or even a loss with a bonus point will suffice, regardless of results elsewhere, but after suffering their first defeat of the season against Glasgow Warriors ‘A’ at Millbrae last weekend, they will be desperate to reassert their status as the most consistent performers over the duration of the Super Series project by booking a home draw in next weekend’s shoot-out for the title.


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“Matt Davidson is away in Madrid playing against Antoine Dupont for GB7s this weekend so Liam Richman moves to 13 and Christian Townsend comes in at 10 against his previous club,” said Heriot’s head coach Ben Cairns. “Sam Pecqueur rotating in for Lewis Wells is the only other change in a settled backline.

Wallace Nelson retains his starting berth after an outstanding performance against his old side [Southern Knights] last week, including 20 tackles and none missed, but moves to the blindside to accommodate the returning Sam Wallace at openside. Charlie Jupp switches to the second-row with Pat Spence moving to the bench. The final change to the pack sees Michael Liness start at hooker.

“On the bench, Sinjin Broad comes in for the very unfortunate Euan McAra, Jason Hill returns to the squad, and Rory Jackson, from Heriots Blues, is in line to make his debut providing us with emergency hooker cover.

“Games versus the top side in the competition always mean a bit more,” Cairns added. “The Bulls have been consistent performers throughout the Sprint with a pretty direct and simple game-plan. I am sure they will be looking to get back to winning ways after a tough loss versus a loaded Glasgow ‘A’ side last weekend.

“We have given ourselves a small opportunity to make the play-off final and with what could be our final game ever together at Goldenacre we intend to do all we can to grasp that opportunity.”

 

Opposite number Pat MacArthur said: “It doesn’t get much bigger than this. In our last league game of the season, we face an in-form Heriot’s team in what is effectively a semi=final. With threats across both the forwards and backs, we know we need to be at our absolute best. The disappointment of the last game served as motivation as we concentrated on perfecting the details, and the players are eager to rectify last week’s mistakes.

MacArthur has made only four changes to his starting line-up. Hooker Grant Stewart, who recently rejoined the pro ranks with Glasgow Warriors, is released to play blindside flanker in place of the benched Tim Brown; Richie Simpson, who is on a partnership contract with Glasgow and played against Bulls last weekend, returns at stand-off in place of the injured David McCartney; Fergus Johnston switches in for Reiss Cullen at scrum-half; and Mason Cullen (the younger brother of Reiss) steps in for Thomas Glendinning, who also moves to the bench.

 

Heriot’s (v Ayrshire Bulls in round six of Super Series Sprint at Goldenacre on Saturday @ 3pm): D King; Pecqueur, L Richman ©, A Hunter, J Blain; C Townsend, S Smith; J Scott, M Liness, E McLaren, C Jupp, R Seydak, W Nelson, S Wallace, R Leishman. Replacements: J Hill, C Keen, L Porter, P Spence, R Jackson, S Broad, C Anderson, L Wells.

Ayrshire Bulls: M Kershaw; L Bardelli, J Shedden, R Beattie, M Cullen; R Simpson, F Johnston; J Drummond, J Malcolm, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, G Stewart, L McNamara, B Macpherson©. Replacements: A McGuire, R Tanner, C Miller,, O Baird, T Brown, R Cullen, T Glendinning, C Elliot.

Referee: Hollie Davidson

Key battle: Jack Blain versus Luca Bardelli

Prediction: Bulls bounce back to book home final.

 

 

Meanwhile, Myreside is currently out of action so Watsonians are ‘hosting’ Boroughmuir Bears at Meggetland, with a 3rd/4th place play-off appearance next weekend the reward for the winning team, while the losers will have to shoot it out with Southern Knights to avoid the wooden spoon.

“Last weeks narrow loss to Edinburgh ‘A’ was both very encouraging and frustrating in equal measure,” said Watsonians head coach Fraser Brown. “I was really pleased in how we approached the game, dominating territory and the momentum for most of the game. However, our accuracy around our set-piece and inside Edinburgh’s 22 was poor and ultimately cost us the game.

“This week we will have to take every opportunity available to us. We know the Bears are dangerous from anywhere on the pitch and have a real attacking mindset. We will have to be at our best defensively and a lot more clinical when we get the ball.”

Bears head coach Graham Shiel said: “There was a good crowd last weekend on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon at Meggetland and whilst the result did not go for us, the spectators were treated to some open – too open at times for my liking – rugby and a feast of scores [with Stirling Wolves ultimately running 38-64 winners].

“While I am sure the spectators would wish for a similar outcome this weekend, I hope it is a lot closer from a Bears point of view and that we can find a way to weave the positive parts of our performances to date together and get closer to an 80 minute performance as we move towards the curtain coming down on Super Series.

“Watsonians have been one of the top performing sides in the competition, with strong squads throughout their existence, and this season has been no different.  Watsonains will be disappointed in their season by their own standards and will be looking for improvements. I hope that the game this weekend lives up to expectations and is a closely contested south Edinburgh derby as both teams compete for the Allan McNish trophy.”

 

Watsonians (v Boroughmuir Bears in round six of Super Series Sprint at Meggetland on Saturday @ 3pm): D Coetzer; L Macpherson, J Mitchell, L Berg, F Owsley; J Baggott, F Burgess; C Davidson, G Parry, B Bratton, J Berrisford, J Parkinson, K Van Niekerk, S Cecil, N Irvine-Hess ©. Replacements: M Pritchard, D Voas, C Lamberton, K Watt, O Gordon, M Scott, S Clark, R Coetzer..

Boroughmuir Bears: E Muirhead; M Reid, D Munn, S Robeson ©, R Stewart; G Paul, R  Swan; C Anderson, A Allen, M McGinley, M Laboda, J Fisher, D Davison, L Calder, L Habib. Replacements: Z Griffiths, C McFeat Smith, Z Toerien, S Whitaker, H Stewart, R Cadzow, A McLean, R Kerr.

Referee: Rob McDowell

Key battle: Jake Parkinson versus Jack Fisher

Prediction: Bears bounce back


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About David Barnes 3995 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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