Super Series Sprint: teams announced for Friday night lights campaign opener

Ayrshire Bulls host Stirling Wolves at Millbrae and Edinburgh 'A' head to the Greenyards to play Southern Knights

Ayrshire Bulls host Stirling Wolves at Millbrae on the opening night of the 2024 Super Series Sprint. Image: George McMillan
Ayrshire Bulls host Stirling Wolves at Millbrae on the opening night of the 2024 Super Series Sprint. Image: George McMillan

LAST year’s Super Series Championship finalists meet again at the earliest opportunity in the opening round of this year’s Sprint, with hosts Ayrshire Bulls out for revenge against Stirling Wolves at Millbrae tomorrow [Friday] night.

Both sides have carried a lot of continuity over from that campaign into this one with 17 of the home 23 having been involved in last November’s final, and 13 survivors in the visiting squad, including the entire starting backline.

“With a replay of the Championship final, we know it will be a physical encounter,” acknowledged Bulls head coach Pat MacArthur. “With a few debutants, the players will be keen to make their mark and test themselves against the Championship winners. Jake Shearer (an 18-year-old prop) is one of those exciting young players looking to make his competitive debut of the bench. Others looking to make their first appearance for the Bulls are David McCartney, Robbie Orr, Mason Cullen and Marcus Kershaw.


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Meanwhile, Stirling Wolves have Stevie Longwell in their line-up – contradicting misguided reports that he was already in the USA playing MLR – and the big prop is looking forward to returning to a happy hunting ground where he spent four seasons playing for Ayr in the pre-Super6 Premiership, before embarking on a spot of globetrotting which took in spells playing for Verona in Italy, Watsonians back in Scotland briefly during the immediate aftermath of Covid, Old Glory DC in America, Jersey Reds in the English Championship until that club’s untimely demise, and most recently Bristol Bears.

The genial 33-year-old is planning to return to the USA for some more MLR action towards the end of the Sprint series, but for the time being is delighted to be back on home turf.

Also pulling on the Wolves jersey for the first time in a competitive match is former Scotland Under-20s second-row Jare Oguntibeju. The Nigerian-born 21-year-old spent a dozen years between the ages of two and 14 living in the Pilton area of Edinburgh, and has now moved back north from Ealing Trailfinders.

Oguntibeju’s spell in the Scotland Under-20s set-up back in 2022 was cut short by a serious knee injury. Standing at 6ft 8ins in his stocking soles, and weighing in at just a touch under 18½, he certainly has the physical attributes to be a top player.

Bristol back-row Macenzzie Duncan Scotland under-20s second-row Archie Clarke and prop Ben Cullen will look to make their mark off the bench.

“Facing a fired up Bulls side at Millbrae is an enormous challenge, but we have prepared well and are excited about the opportunity to test ourselves once again against what is a very physical well-coached side,” said head coach Eddie Pollock.

“Bulls as always will be very direct trying to dominate the gain line and we will need to be at our best defensively to give ourselves an opportunity to come away with a positive result in what promises to be an exciting start to the 2024 Super Series campaign.

“I am looking forward, personally, to seeing how this Wolves side can continue to develop its attacking game against what is always a very tough defensive unit. This is the type of match everyone wants to be involved in.”

 

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

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; M Heron, R Southern, M Holden ©, R McKnight; C Jackson, K Mcghie; L Quarm, J Roberts, S Longwell, J Pow, J Oguntibeju, R Knott, S Macdonald, E Hasdell. Replacements: D Montgomery, B Cullen, M Tamosaitis, A Clarke, M Duncan, E Davey, E Cunningham.

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell

Key battle: Rory Jackson versus Jare Oguntibeju

Prediction: Home comforts and a slightly more settled squad sees Bulls exact revenge.

 

 

In the televised match – on BBC Alba – Southern Knights host Edinburgh ‘A’ at the Greenyards, with a number of players who will be familiar to those who have followed the Premiership in recent seasons named within the Borderers’ ranks, such as wingers Sandy Watt (Musselburgh) and Ethan McVicker (Selkirk), second-row Michael Badenhorst (Musselburgh), captain and flanker Monroe Job (Selkirk), replacement hooker Finlay Scott (Jed-Forest) and replacement prop Zen Szwagrzak (Selkirk).

Scotland Under-18 stand-off Ross Wolfenden, recruited from Peebles, is on the bench.

“Pre-season has gone really well and there is a great feel within the squad,” said home head coach Rob Moffat. “We are really looking forward to Friday nights challenge, but we’re under no illusions how hard it will be to play against Edinburgh A. As a group we can’t wait to get our Sprint season underway with a potential 11 debuts at this level, which is exciting.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh ‘A’ consists of a combination of fringe senior squad members such as back-row Tom Dodd (who skippers the side side) and Charlie Shiel, academy prospects such as Jack Hocking and Finn Douglas, plus a sprinkling of club players in teenagers Nairn Moncreiff (Gala) and Sam Lewini (Watsonians). University of Edinburgh paid Mark Fyffe (lock) and Daniel Odejinmi (back-three) are also named on the bench as part of the capital club’s new partnership with the University.

“We’ve been able to select a good blend of experience for this opening match with plenty of senior caps in the pack,” said Edinburgh ‘A’ and Academy coach, Kris Burney. “We’re looking forward to seeing how we go on a fast track, something we’re used to training and playing on at our home, Hive Stadium.”

 

Southern Knights (v Edinburgh in round one of Super Series Sprint at the Greenyards on Friday @ 7.35pm): C Grieve; S Watt, J Civil, E Greenlaw, E McVicker; G McNeish, C Davidson; J Dobie, M Brogan, D Gamble, M Badenhorst, A Runciman, A Ferrie, M Job ©, M Rhodes. Replacements: F Scott, A McGregor, Z Szwagrzak, G Young, D Cockburn, W Ferrie, R Wolfenden, A Hall.

Edinburgh Rugby ‘A’: J Brown*, N Moncrieff**, S Leweni**, J Hocking*, F Douglas*; C Scott, C Shiel; L de Bruin, P  Harrison, D Rae, E McVie*, R Carmichael, T Dodd ©, T Currie*, B Muncaster. Replacements: J Blyth-Lafferty*, M Jones, A Williams, M Fyffe, F Douglas*, H Patterson*, I Coates*, D Odejinmi.

*Edinburgh Rugby pro-academy player
**Scottish Rugby junior academy player

Referee: Jonny Perriam

Key battle: Dan Gamble versus Luan de Bruin

Verdict: Professional experience and power to pay off in an away win.


Core squads unveiled for Super Series Sprint

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.

7 Comments

  1. Have to say I’ve never seen such a shambles in all my life , organisationally this is woeful. Players playing for more than one team , clashes with Borders 7’s circuit and SDU game on Friday night.
    I don’t think the structure of Scottish rugby could be any worse if it tried…
    The “seat of your pants “ management of the game is so concerning.
    Most organisations plan years in advance , the SRU and those responsible for Scottish rugby only appear to be able to react rather than plan and have no concept of how to run the game or any empathy around how the player base is being drained and disillusioned.

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  2. I look forward to an exciting weekend of rugby – Great to see rugby back on BBC Alba.

    Also encouraging is the number of youth on display (although some clubs could be doing better). The partnership with Edinburgh Uni should unearth some gems, some great talent around the peffermill playing fields.

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    • Hope for your sake there’s some people turn up at Greenyards AG2
      You keep banging on how well supported your Notsosuper 6 competition is .

      Crowd numbers please .
      I’ve borrowed that sentence from you.

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    • Somebody better tell the lad Coates of Nights that he’s in the opposition team on Friday .
      I’m Worried he’s got the wrong strip on .
      How does this work Angry Gala 2.
      You’re in one squad then you play against it .
      Of course Dodson made up the rules .that explains it .
      See you at Accies v Marr .now there’s a game to wet appetite .lot at stake .

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