Super6: frustrated Ben Cairns challenges Stirling County to be clinical versus Ayrshire Bulls

Hosts are desperate to secure their first win of the campaign in this week's Friday night clash at Bridgehaugh

Stirling County host Ayrshire Bulls on Friday night. Image: Bryan Robertson
Stirling County host Ayrshire Bulls on Friday night. Image: Bryan Robertson

STIRLING COUNTY head coach Ben Cairns says he is beginning to find his pre-match comments tiresome because it is constantly the same message about the team needing to be more clinical in the strike zone, and he is hoping that his players can finally take the message on board and translate it onto the pitch when they welcome Ayrshire Bulls to Bridgehaugh tomorrow night.

With just a five-day turnaround following last Sunday’s narrow home defeat to Heriot’s, the former Edinburgh and Scotland centre has had to make some enforced changes, and has rotated his squad in a few other positions.

Craig Jardine comes in at inside centre with Grant Hughes pressed into action at scrum-half. In the pack, it is all change in the front-row with fit again George Breese starting at loose-head, Angus Fraser rotating in for Reyner Kennedy at hooker, and JP Phelen at tight-head in place of academy player Murphy Walker, who has been recalled by Glasgow Warriors.  Max Williamson is also with the pro team so James Pow takes his place in the second-row, while Dean Taylor-Menzies returns from injury to captain the side at No8.

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““The copy and paste job here is getting a bit tiresome, at some stage we have to put everything together and get our first win of the season,” said Cairns. “Again, effort was outstanding [against Heriot’s] and we played some fantastic rugby but our accuracy in the final third let us down massively.

“There hasn’t been a lot of time to work on it in training but we have reviewed fully and know where we need to make changes. We keep saying we are not far away and being a total of six points off three wins from three would suggest that – but we are running out of time to kick start this short season.

“Ayrshire Bulls will be disappointed not to have picked up more points by this stage, being pipped in rounds one and two by the high-flying Watsonians and Knights. They’ve got a very good squad, with a big physical pack and a very exciting backline. We know its going to be another massive shift required if we are to start climbing the table.”

Meanwhile, Bulls head coach Pat MacArthur has also rung the changes, with Alex McGuire coming in for his first start of the season at hooker, while tight-head Calvin Henderson, open-side Rory Jackson, scrum-half Harry Warr, stand-off Matt Minogue and winger Arron Tait step-up to from the bench, and Adam McGowan is drafted into the 23 from the ‘club XV’ as emergency scrum-half cover.

“Travelling to play Stirling away is always a real challenge,” said MacArthur. “Like us, they will have been disappointed with their last result and we will need to be at our best. Friday provides a great platform for us to raise our performance levels, we have managed to get some good work done in training and we will be looking to take this into the weekend and see a reaction from the Knights game.”

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Stirling County (versus Ayrshire Bulls at Bridgehaugh on Friday 20th August, kick-off 7.30pm): T Roche; S Hamilton, A Russell, C Jardine, L Trotter; A Goudie, G Hughes; G Breese, A Fraser J Phelen, J Pow, B Bowes, C Cruickshank, C Gordon, D Taylor-Menzies (captain).

Subs: R Kennedy B Dineen, L Skinner B Luney, A Mackie, E Cunningham, L Hayes, C Robertson.

Ayrshire Bulls: M Davidson; A Tait, T Williams, T Jordan, R Nairn; M Minogue, H Warr; R Sayce, A McGuire, C Henderson, E Bloodworth (vice-captain), T Everard, R Sweeney, R Jackson, B MacPherson (captain).

Subs: R Tanner, C Miller, M Scott, E Hamilton-Bulger, J Drummond, A McGowan, C Townsend, E Caven.

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About David Barnes 4026 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.