RESTED and refreshed – and with any lubrication they might have been allowed over the festive break now passed well out of the system – Boroughmuir Bears and Southern Knights clash at Meggetland tomorrow [Friday] night in their re-arranged Super6 round four fixture.
While it looks like being a shoot-out between Watsonians, Ayrshire Bulls and Heriot’s to finish top of the table at the end of the regular season, the play-off system means that any team finishing fourth remains in the hunt for the overall title, and with just three points separating the Bears currently in that final play-off slot and sixth placed Knights, there remains an awful lot still to play for.
The Bears are once again boosted for this match by a generous release of Glasgow Warriors pros in the pack, with George Thornton and Johnny Matthews in the front-row, and flanker Jale Vakalolomo looking to make an impact off the bench in his first run-out since arriving in Scotland from Australia last summer.
Behind the scrum, head coach Graham Shiel has selected Tom Wilson ahead of Kyle McGhie at scrum-half, and Jordan Edmunds returns from injury on the wing with Glen Faulds returning to full-back. Murray Johnstone and Ronan Kerr are set to make their Super6 debuts off the bench.
“The first five games have been challenging for the Bears squad but we feel we are becoming more consistent in our performances while showing ambition to improve as individuals and as a group,” said Shiel. “The Christmas break has tested us and our ability to maintain our performance as we look to start off from where we left versus Watsonians in December, building for what will be a huge year of rugby for the Bears squad in 2020.”
Meanwhile, the Southern Knights will be keen to build on their positive showing in the second half of the inaugural ‘Doddie’s Club Trophy’ match played against Newcastle Falcons at Kingtson Park on the Saturday after Christmas, when they limited the English Championship side to a three tries against their two, and they will hope that outing gives them a battle-hardened edge so that they can hit the ground running on their return to league action after a disappointing start to the season.
Fraser Thomson captains the side from full-back and Grant Shiells comes back in to start at loosehead to lead the pack. Dylan Taylor and Bruce Colvine return from injury.
“We have enjoyed a short break after our game against Newcastle which was a great occasion to be involved in and supporting Doddie in raising awareness around MND,” said head coach Rob Chrystie. “We have prepared well and are focused on improving every time we run out.”
Boroughmuir Bears: Glen Faulds; Cammy Gray, Archie Russell, Greg Cannie, Jordan Edmunds; Chris Laidlaw©, Tom Wilson; George Thornton, Johnny Matthews, Dan Winning, Ewan Stewart, Callum Atkinson, Aubrey Mncube, Scott McGinley, Craig Keddie. Subs: George Shannon, AP McWilliam, Martin McGinley , Tom Drennan, Jale Vakaloloma,,Murray Johnstone, Martin Cimprich, Ronan Kerr.
Southern Knights: Fraser Thomson©; Ciaran Whyte, Joseph Jenkins, Gavin Wood, Patrick Anderson; Jason Baggott, Struan Hutchison; Grant Shiells, Russell Anderson, Ewan McQuillan, James Head, Angus Runciman, Ruaridh Knott, Dylan Taylor, Neil Irvine-Hess. Subs: Fraser Renwick, Conor Young, Shaun Gunn, Dalton Redpath, Finlay Scott, Bruce Colvine, Thomas Galbraith, Michael Mvelase-Julyan.