WATSONIANS know that any sort of win in their final clash of the regular season against Heriot’s at Myreside on Friday evening will be enough to see them head into the Super6 Championship play-offs in top spot.
However, defeat would give the Bulls a chance of finishing top, if they can get the better of Boroughmuir Bears at Meggetland on Saturday afternoon.
So, while the host teams for next weekend’s semi-finals are confirmed, who plays who – first takes on fourth and second plays third – is still to be decided in the coming days.
After a poor recent run, Heriot’s are fourth and only a bonus point win here would see them draw level with third placed Bears, but that would still depend on how the Meggetland men do on Saturday.
Wherever the top four finish, this weekend is all about keeping form up – or finding form – for the play-offs as everything is building up towards the final on October 30th at the DAM Health Stadium.
Watsonians have made two changes behind the scrum for this match. After scoring a try from the bench last week, Angus Guthrie replaces Glasgow academy player Ross McKnight on the wing, and Murray Scott comes in at scrum-half in place of Roan Frostwick. McKnight is on the bench while Frostwick is not in the 23.
In the pack, Cal Davies – after missing his first game ever at Super6 level last week – is back at hooker and captains the side, while tight-head prop Angus Williams, second-row Kieran Watt and back-row Luis Ball all start with Seb Cecil moving from six to No 8 with Kwagga van Niekerk unavailable.
On the bench, Michael Badenhorst returns to the squad having played for Heriot’s as emergency cover recently and Gregor Scougall, Neil Irvine-Hess, Rory Brand and Connor Eastgate also earn places in the 23.
“We’re really looking forward to playing our first Friday night game at Myreside this year and there’s no better fixture for it to be than against Heriot’s,” head coach Fergus Pringle said. “While Heriot’s haven’t had the results they may have wanted so far in this campaign, they have quality players throughout their team and will be really up for this game.
“We are relishing the challenge this week and are determined to produce our best rugby when it matters most, which is now as we get down to the business end of our season.”
In the front-row for Heriot’s, hooker Michael Liness and Edinburgh Rugby academy tight-head prop Dan Gamble return to the starting pack
Callum Marshall, a club legend who was thought to have hung up his boots, returns this week to ease some of the back five injury woes in the scrum. He comes in from the wilderness to start in the second-row alongside Ronan Seydak, while Callum Anderson returns from injury to start at No.8. Loose-head prop Chris Keen returns from injury on the bench.
There is a new-look half-back pairing with Jed Gelderbloom and Bruce Houston teaming up after the latter recovered from concussion.
Nathan Sweeney, the Musselburgh product and Edinburgh academy player, has made a long-awaited return from injury and starts at full-back while fellow academy player Jake Henry is on the wing.
Edinburgh pro players Jack Blain and Cammy Hutchison wear 11 and 12 respectively with Scotland Sevens man Matt Davidson at 13 again.
“We were bitterly disappointed with last week’s performance [versus Southern Knights] and have done a bit of soul searching this week to help us reset in time for the play-offs,” said co-coach Fin Gillies. “This is a strange week to prepare for, we may find ourselves in a play-off against Watsonians again next week so I can’t imagine either team will be particularly keen to show their hand.
“We have approached this week slightly differently, we have focused on just playing the game for the enjoyment of playing the game, we want the players to go out express themselves and enjoy the final round of the regular season against our local rivals.”
Watsonians (versus Heriot’s @ Myreside, Friday 7.45pm): D Coetzer; L MacPherson, L Berg, J Reynolds, A Guthrie; J Baggott, M Scott; H Courtney, C Davies©, A Williams, K Watt, J Berrisford, L Ball, K Main, S Cecil. Subs: C Wilson, B Bratton, G Scougall, M Badenhorst, N Irvine-Hess, R Brand, C Eastgate, R McKnight.
Heriot’s: N Sweeney; J Henry, M Davidson, C Hutchinson, J Blain; B Houston, J Gelderbloom; J Scott, M Liness, D Gamble, R Seydak, C Marshall, R Leishman©, S Wallace, C Anderson. Subs: E Young, C Keen, E McLaren, F Hastie, I Wilson, M McAndrew, N Godsmark, R Jones.
Referee: David Sutherland.
Key battle: Murray Scott versus Jed Gelderbloom.
Verdict: For Watsonians this is all about making sure of top spot. For Heriot’s it is about finding some confidence from somewhere to take into the knock-out phase. It should be an entertaining game given the attacking talents on show.