THE game at Bridgehaugh between Stirling County and the Ayrshire Bulls was arguably the best contest so far in season two of Super6. If Saturday’s match at Millbrae is half as entertaining, it will still be good value.
The Bulls, of course, will be out to reverse the outcome of that 30-28 loss last month, in which a County penalty denied them at the death after they thought a late interception try had been enough to seal the victory. They bounced back well from that result, crushing Heriot’s 41-7 in their last outing before the mid-term break, and if they maintain anything close to that level of performance, County could be in for a long afternoon.
Bulls coach Pat MacArthur has made what he calls “a bit of a reshuffle” from his last selection, starting at full-back, where Matt Davidson comes in, with Elias Caven moving to the wing to replace the injured Aaron Tait. Jordan Lenac starts at scrum-half, and in the front row George Thornton returns from Glasgow Warriors duty and is joined by Alex McGuire.
“The players are really looking forward to the game against Stirling,” MacArthur said. “With it being Ladies’ Day at the club it should make for a great atmosphere. We were happy with the five points before the break against Heriot’s: the team showed a lot of resilience and improved
on a number of areas we from the previous week’s performance.
“We will look for another strong performance this week against a Stirling team that wil be hurting from their game against Boroughmuir. Our players will be determined to put in a good performance in front of our home support and look forward to the challenge that Saturday will bring.”
That match at Meggetland to which MacArthur referred was a 23-17 defeat for County – who, not for the first time, appeared to have done enough to win the game before letting it slip away from them. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks off the back of a disappointing second half and result versus the Bears,” Stirling coach Ben Cairns admitted.
“There have been some harsh words spoken and we expect a reaction from the group this weekend. Millbrae is never an easy place to go: the Bulls will be full of confidence after an excellent performance last time out versus Heriot’s and will be hungry to go back to back at home.
“It has only been three weeks since the two sides last met, producing one of the best matches in the competition to date. With Ladies’ Day at Millbrae they will be expecting a big crowd and hopefully we can put on another show for all in attendance.”
Cairns has kept faith with the back division that began the Bears match. Up front, Billy Dineen starts for the first time this season, Barney Luney comes into the second row instead of Byron Bowes, and in the back row Callum Cruickshank replaces Dean Taylor-Menzies, who is out with concussion. Watsonians prop Cole Lamberton is on the bench as a permit player to enable County to fill their front-row complement.
Ayrshire Bulls (v Stirling County at Millbrae, Saturday 3pm): M Davidson; E Caven, R Beattie, T Williams, R Nairn; T Jordan, J Lenac; G Thornton, A McGuire, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, T Everard, R Sweeney, Y Fantini, B MacPherson (captain). Replacements: J Drummond, R Sayce, M Scott, E Bulger, G Wilson, T Lanni, C Townsend, H Warr.
Stirling County: C Robertson; S Hamilton, A Russell, C Jardine, T Roche; A Goudie, G Hughes; W Dineen, R Kennedy (captain), L Skinner, J Pow, B Luney, C Cruickshank, C Gordon, G Arnott. Substitutes: A Fraser, C Lamberton, G Breese, B Bowes, J van Vuuren, C Korteweg, E Cunningham, L Hayes.