Super Series Sprint: capital gains up for grabs in Saturday’s round one fixtures

Runners, riders and verdict for Boroughmuir Bears versus Glasgow Warriors 'A' and Heriot's versus Watsonians

A capital clash between Heriot's and Watsonians is on the agenda at Goldenacre tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon. Image: Peter Watt
A capital clash between Heriot's and Watsonians is on the agenda at Goldenacre tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon. Image: Peter Watt

ON the eve of his team kicking off the final Super Series tournament before that tier of the game is shelved, Boroughmuir Bears head coach Graham Shiel has added his voice to the chorus questioning the wisdom of the decision without having a clear and coherent plan for what should replace it.

“As has been the case previously, pre-season brings it’s challenges which, for me, have drawn parallels with the early pro days –  for those of us old enough to remember –  when decisions made to lose pro teams simply prevented another avenue to develop a wider group of players,” he said. “Progress? Time will tell. At least we know the direction of travel and the reality is, this is the last opportunity for this generation of player to play semi-pro rugby in Scotland.”

“There have been a number of changes to our group over the close season,” he continued. “Players departing, however, opens the door for new players coming in to the Super Series to promote themselves and gain further rugby experience and opportunities.”


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“We have a challenging start to the season first up versus the professional squad of Glasgow Warriors and it will be great to see a high number of current to recent national Under-20s players on view in one venue. Hopefully, this is a sign of the things that lie ahead on the rugby landscape in Scotland, enabling us to nurture the next generation of player in Scotland.

“As has been our aim over the duration of the Super Series program, the Bears wi;; seek to expose young players to as high a level of rugby as possible. We aim to make this campaign as enjoyable as possible along with providing players with the opportunity to challenge themselves against some very tough opposition and take these memories forward with them in their rugby careers, whatever that holds.”

“There are six new faces in the match-day 23 for this first game of 2024, including debutants Myles Lowe and 18-year-old Boroughmuir Academy graduate Lewis Calder in the back-row, where they line-up alongside 19-year-old Liam Habib.

Glasgow Warriors ‘A’ coach Pete Horne said: “We are looking forward to seeing lots of our young players get an opportunity to showcase their abilities in a competitive fixture. The club is struggling with injuries throughout the forwards, so we have five backs on the bench. It’s a great opportunity for a couple of Inter-District club players to rise to the challenge of playing at a higher level in Howe of Fife’s Fraser Allan and Glasgow Hawks’ James Imrie.

Boroughmuir Bears (v Glasgow Warriors ‘A’ in round one of Super Series Sprint at Meggetland on Saturday @ 3pm): E Muirhead; M Reid, R Kerr, S Robeson ©, R Stewart; G Paul, R  Swan; C McFeat Smith, A Allen, M McGinley, M Laboda, J Fisher, M Lowe, L Calder, L Habib. Replacements: C Tait, L Alessandri, C MacGregor, B Taylor, E Guy, J Beveridge, A McLean, A Thom.

Glasgow Warriors ‘A’: F Watson; A Cross, B Salmon, D Munn, L Trotter; R Simpson, B Afshar ©; B Bantvala, A Fraser, C Norrie, R Hart, H McLeod, G Brown, J Morris, J Mann. Replacements: F Allan, C Smyth, E Pieretto, J Imrie, M Urwin, K Yule, J Vintisei, K Johnston.

Referee: Rob McDowell

Key battle: Lewis Calder verus Jonny Morris

Prediction: Better balanced bench will be decisive in Bears’ favour.

 

 

Across the city, there is a tasty derby on the cards with Heriot’s hosting their old foes Watsonians at Goldenacre.

Homes head coach Ben Cairns pointed out that he has named a largely settled squad around three new faces in the backline and three more “debutants lying in wait to have an impact off the bench”.

Christian Townsend makes the switch from Ayrshire Bulls and starts at full-back. He is joined in the backs by former Herioter and Newcastle University student Fergus Wood and former Tuggeranong Vikings captain Seamus Smith,” explained Cairns.

“Lawson Porter from Malone RFC in Northern Ireland, the released Edinburgh pro academy player Ollie Blyth-Lafferty and Heriot’s Blues player Angus Hunter will look to make their first appearances for our Super Series as replacements

“We also welcome back Jason Hill after a long injury lay off and a transition period playing for the Blues. Finally, we have a new skipper for the season in the form of our Scottish Qualified Aussie, Liam Richman.

“What a way to start our campaign against our nearest rivals on Saturday afternoon at Goldenacre,” added Cairns. “These games are always very entertaining encounters and we cannot wait to get into it.

“It has been a pretty short and sharp pre-season off the back of a fairly long off-season. However, the guys have come in heavily motivated to have one final crack at the title. If we are to achieve that ambition we have to get off to a quick start [because] there is not a lot of time to play catch-up.

“I am sure Watsonians will have a similar mindset buoyed by a new head coach in Fraser Brown. He will have added some great detail to the group from his pro experience and with it being their first competitive match we go into the encounter expecting the unexpected from them.”

For his part, Brown paid tribute to the attitude and professional approach to rugby exhibited by his part-time charges during pre-season.

“I’ve been really impressed with the commitment and application of all our players over the last seven weeks or so and it certainly made this week’s selection, my first, all the more difficult,” he said.

“Whilst we are fortunate to welcome back some seasoned and experienced players in Luis Ball, Kwagga Van Niekerk, Jason Baggott and Dom Coetzer, there is also room in our match-day squad for some young talent. Robbie Deans, Fin Thomson, Gavin Parry are all names familiar to those who watched Scotland Under-20’s in the recent Six Nations, as well as Jake Parkinson, who featured just last year.

“There are also opportunities for several players who have come into our environment after impressing across the club season. Josh Mitchell has been excellent [for Watsonians Club XV] and is rewarded with a start on the right wing while Scott Clark [Preston Lodge] and Ryan Coetzer [Watsonians Club XV]  will look to impress off the bench.

“The 18-year-old Oli Gordon [who came through Merchiston] has been really impressive through pre-season and gets a spot on the bench and it’s great to be able to welcome Cole Lamberton back after some time away due to injury.”

Heriot’s (v Watsonians in round one of Super Series Sprint at Goldenacre on Saturday @ 3pm): C Townsend; S Pecqueur, M Davidson, F Wood, L Wells; L Richman ©, S Smith; J Scott, C Fenton, E McLaren, R Sendak, J Campbell, R Leishman, S Wallace, C Anderson. Replacements: M Liness, L Porter, O Blyth-Lafferty, W Nelson, J Hill, E McAra, D Hood, A Hunter.

Watsonians: D Coetzer; L Macpherson, L Berg, F Thomson, J Mitchell; J Baggott, M Scott; R Deans, F Duraj, B Bratton, K Watt, J Parkinson, L Ball, N Irvine-Hess ©, K Van Niekerk. Replacements: G Parry, C Davidson, C Lambeth, S Cecil, O Gordon, H Finn, S Clark, R Coetzer.

Referee: David Sutherland

Key battle: Matt Davidson versus Lewis Berg

Prediction: Home side by a nose.


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About David Barnes 3956 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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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