Super6: Heriot’s and Ayrshire Bulls battle it out for a home play-off draw

Huge phyical battle up-front is on the cards as visitors look to avenge their defeat to the same opposition at Millbrae in round one

Cameron Hutchison and Robert Kay are reunited I the centre for Heriot's against Ayrshire Bulls at Goldenacre this afternoon. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson
Cameron Hutchison and Robert Kay are reunited I the centre for Heriot's against Ayrshire Bulls at Goldenacre this afternoon. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

WHOEVER wins this final match of the regular season for both sides will not only secure a home play-off, but will also put themselves in contention to finish top of the table in this inaugural Super6 campaign – depending on how Watsonians get on against Southern Knights (whenever that postponed final match gets played).

Heriot’s have home advantage but their mid-season run of good form – five wins on the bounce – took a hit when they came up short against Watsonians last time out. They are boosted for this match by the return from injury of Rory McMichael at full-back and Rob Kay in the centre, meaning that Ross Jones can shift to stand-off in place of the unavailable Stuart Edwards. The second-row revolving door swings again, with Callum Marshall and Ronan Seydak coming into the engine-room this week, while Charlie Jupp and Adam Sinclair drop to the bench.

“Our last fixture [against Watsonians] was a tough contest which was, ultimately, lost by our high penalty count,” said head coach Phil Smith. “If we can be better disciplined and continue to be accurate in our attack, I am hopeful of giving a resurgent Ayrshire Bulls a full 80 minute contest.”

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After two frustrating losses on the bounce – away to Watsonians and at home to Southern Knights – the Bulls returned to winning ways against Boroughmuir Bears last Sunday with some style, and head coach Peter Murchie believes that game-time after a five week lay-off due to the weather and Six Nations matches could give his side a valuable edge.

“It was great to be back out on the pitch last week after a long lay-off, and we will be better off for the 80 minutes in our legs,” he said. “Evidently, there is much to play for this weekend, but we need to concentrate on our performance in what will be a big challenge, but one we relish.”

When Heriot’s came out on top in the first instalment of this fixture at Millbrae back in November, the power of the visiting pack was key, so the Bulls will be delighted to welcome Marshall Sykes back into the engine room this weekend for what promises to be a hugely physical encounter. Meanwhile, the return of Frazier Climo after a lengthy injury lay-off brings valuable experience and guile at stand-off for the visitors, and Kody McGovern – signed last week from Watsonians – comes straight in on the wing.

“We have a strong bench who will all be looking to make an impact,” added Murchie.

Heriot’s (versus Ayrshire Bulls, Sunday 1st March, at Goldenacre, 2pm kick-off): Rory McMichael; James Spencer, Robert Kay, Cameron Hutchison, James Couper; Ross Jones, Andrew Simmers; Andrew Nimmo, Ali Johnstone, Josh Scott, Callum Marshall, Ronan Seydak, Iain Wilson©, Jack McClean, Jason Hill. Subs: Finlay Scott, Martin Bouab, Struan Cessford, Charlie Jupp, Adam Sinclair, Scott Riddell, Dan Nutton, Harry Paterson.

Ayrshire Bulls: Ross Thompson; Kody McGovern, Danny McCluskey, Isaac McNulty, Craig Gossman; Frazier Climo, Harry Warr; Gordon Reid, Sam Kitchen, Nicolas Griffiths, Marshall Sykes, Lars Morrice, George Bordill, Peter McCallum©, Blair Macpherson. Subs: Alex McGuire, Michael Scott, Ruairidh Sayce, Fraser Hastie, Graham Geldenhuys, David Armstrong, James Pinkerton, Grant Anderson.

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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.