Super6 preview: Gregor Hiddleston moves to hooker for Stirling Wolves trip to Ayrshire Bulls

Visitors looking to build on last weekend's first win of campaign

Ayrshire Bulls take on Stirling Wolves at Millbrae tomorrow [Friday] night. Image: Bryan Robertson
Ayrshire Bulls take on Stirling Wolves at Millbrae tomorrow [Friday] night. Image: Bryan Robertson

FRESH from signing a partnership contract with Glasgow Warriors this week, Gregor Hiddleston moves from the back-row to his preferred hooker position as Stirling Wolves look to build on last Friday night’s first victory of the season at Meggetland by claiming a surprise scalp when they Ayrshire Bulls at Millbrae tomorrow [Friday] evening.

While their play-off hopes are gone, the triumph at Boroughmuir Bears after seven Super6 Championship losses on the spin was a very welcome boost for the Bridgehaugh men.

They have two regular season fixtures left to try and end outgoing head coach Ben Cairns’ tenure on a high, starting with this tricky assignment against in-form Ayrshire Bulls, who are second in the table.


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Wolves are bottom of the table just now on points difference from Southern Knights and for this game a re-jigged front-row sees Cameron MacMillan, Hiddleston and George Breese starting. Adam Wood is injured while Glasgow Warriors hooker Angus Fraser reverts to the bench following a man-of-the-match performance last week.

James Pow and Warriors youngster Max Williamson are in the second-row meaning Hamish Ferguson shifts back to six to replace the unavailable Jack Hill. He is joined in the back-row by captain for the night George Arnott and Benidict Grant.

Young talent Ben Salmon returns to the squad for the first time in the Championship after his under-20s stand-down period which was followed by an untimely injury. He starts at 13 with Ryan Southern shifting in one for the unavailable regular co-captain Marcus Holden.

Finlay Burgess rotates in to start at nine after an impressive performance off the bench last week and he teams up with Scotland cap Duncan Weir at 10. Euan Cunningham replaces the injured Logan Jarvie on the wing.

On the bench, front-rower John McKenna comes back into the mix as do the released Warriors second-row Lewis Bean and regular co-captain Connor Gordon.

“Millbrae is always a tough place to go, but we will go thee with confidence and nothing to fear after our first win of the season,” head coach Cairns said. “We have talked to the players about relishing the challenge and being excited by the opportunity of picking up a rare win at Millbrae.

“The Bulls are a quality team. They have a big physical pack who give them a great platform and a dangerous back three who finish things off pretty well.

“Hopefully the weather holds and we can play our part in another cracker under the ‘Friday Night Lights’.”

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For the home side, Jamie Shedden returns from injury to boost their firepower. The Kilmarnock and Marr product has played in the centre this term, but he is on the wing for this one with last week’s four try hero Elias Caven, the competition’s top try scorer, missing out for the Bulls.

Ollie Smith, the Glasgow Warriors man who played 40 minutes off the bench for the Bulls last week as he stepped up his return from injury, starts at full-back this time, with Liam McNamara on the bench.

Smith’s fellow pro Ross Thompson starts at 10 again, but this time is paired with Jordan Lenac in the half-back spots with Cam Jones on the bench.

Up front, the Bulls have rotated their props, so William Farquhar and Michael Scott start, while, with Lewis McNamara and Sione Vailanu injured and unavailable respectively, Rory Jackson and Gavin Wilson join the back-row alongside skipper Blair Macpherson.

Teenage stand-off Richie Simpson is back from injury and is on the bench.

The bonus point win at Heriot’s last Saturday ensured that the Bulls have a home semi-final play-off to look forward to while further good news came this week with head coach Pat MacArthur extending his contract at the club for another two years.

“We welcome Stirling Wolves to Millbrae on Friday night and they are a team on the up and will be buoyant after their win last week,” MacArthur said.

“Our players will be determined to maintain the momentum and level of performance we have shown in the last few weeks. Competition for places ahead of the play-off semi-finals squad is hotting up and remains a driving force for individual players.”

 

Ayrshire Bulls (versus Stirling Wolves @ Millbrae, Friday 7.45pm): O Smith; J Shedden, T Glendinning, A Stirrat, A Tait; R Thompson, J Lenac; W Farquhar, J Malcolm, M Scott, E Bloodworth, A Samuel, R Jackson, G Wilson, B MacPherson©. Substitutes: A McGuire, A Nimmo, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, T Brown, R Simpson, C Jones, Liam McNamara.

Stirling Wolves: C Robertson; E Cunningham, B Salmon, R Southern, W Fifita; D Weir, F Burgess; C MacMillan, G Hiddleston, G Breese, J Pow, M Williamson, H Ferguson, G Arnott©, B Grant. Substitutes: A Fraser, J McKenna, M Walker, L Bean, C Gordon, G Christie, L Brims, C Jardine.

Referee: David Sutherland

 

Key battle: Thomas Glendinning versus Ben Salmon

 

Verdict: There is no doubt that the Wolves will travel to Millbrae on a high after their first win of the season. They showed good quality and fighting spirit against the Bears and they will need that and more here. As Pat MacArthur says, there is real competition for places in the Bulls ranks and players personal desire to impress in the lead up to the play-offs should see the hosts come out on top after an entertaining 80 minutes.

Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 462 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.