TWO teams who started this Super6 season with a bang but have since failed to sustain that early momentum will be looking to get their campaigns back on track at Goldenacre tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon [2pm kick-off].
It is a red-letter day for Heriot’s, with the release by Edinburgh of prop Murray McCallum giving them their first pro release since the 2017-18 season [they didn’t get one as a Premiership team last season].
The mysterious pro draft has been a contentious issue for some of the Super6 franchises to the east of the country so far this season, with the fact that Glasgow Warriors made 23 releases to Ayrshire Bulls, Boroughmuir Bears and Stirling County during the first three weeks of the campaign, while Edinburgh had made only two in total to Heriot’s, Southern Knights and Watsonians during the same period of time, regarded as highly unsatisfactory.
That can’t be cited as an issue this weekend by Heriot’s with Stirling County only having one pro – flanker Matt Smith – in their line-up.
Heriot’s head coach Phil Smith pre-selected his teams for the first three matches before season kick-off with the aim of giving every fit player an opportunity to stake a claim for regular selection. This week is the first time he has named a team based almost purely on merit, although the release of McCallum has allowed his to rest the ever-reliable Struan Cessford.
“The messages this weekend are really simple: be more disciplined and lower our error count,” he said. “The players recognize that these have been our biggest failings in our last two games and having watched the quality of the Stirling set-piece in their opening fixtures we simply cannot afford to let them get into their stride in these areas of the game.”
Meanwhile, Stirling County have a new look propping partnership with Billy Dineen coming in at loose-head having missed out last week and Murphy Walker getting a start at tight head in place of the unreleased Adam Nicol.
Cameron Henderson returns to the second-row after a concussion lay off with James Pow moving to the bench. In the back-row, Dean Taylor-Menzies shifts to No 8 for the unreleased Adam Ashe, and Smith comes in at blindside.
With Brandon Thomson also being retained by Glasgow Warriors this week, Josh Henderson moves back to stand-off following a run at full-back against Watsonians last week. Ewan MacGarvie wears the 15 jersey with Andrew McLean coming onto the right wing.
Academy prospect Kristian Kay is set to make his first Super6 appearance from the bench after missing the start of the season through injury, and Euan Cunningham, who at 17 is the youngest man in the competition, is also likely to get a run-out.
“There’s been some tough learning after the way things fell apart last Sunday and we’ve had to learn quick with a 6-day turnaround,” said head coach Ben Cairns. “We put ourselves in a very good position with 20 minutes to go and have looked at the reasons to why we were not able to close the game out. Ultimately, we are about 13 minutes away from sitting three from three at the top of the table so we know there’s not a lot wrong with our game.
“Heriot’s, I am sure, will be disappointed with how the season has started for them and in particular the way their first home match went. We know they will be looking to bounce back this weekend and will put everything into getting their first win at Goldenacre.”
Heriot’s: R Jones; R McMichael, R Kay, C Hutchison, J Spencer; S Edwards, A Simmers; A Nimmo, M Liness, M McCallum, R Seydak, A Sinclair, I Wilson©, J McClean, J Hill. Subs: A Johnstone, C Keen, D Gamble, C Marshall, R Leishman, C Jupp, D Nutton, J Blain.
Stirling County: E MacGarvie; A McLean, R Kent, L Hayes, L Trotter; A Goudie, C Korteweg; B Dineen, R Kennedy©, M Walker, O Bartlett, C Henderson, M Smith, C Gordon, D Taylor-Menzies. Subs: A Thomson, A Wood, C Brown, J Pow, G Arnott, K Kay, E Cunningham, O Horne.
OVER in the west, second host first when Ayrshire Bulls welcome unbeaten Watsonians to Millbrae [3pm kick-off].
“It’s been a tough selection this week as we have had to pick between different players who performed well in both the Boroughmuir Bears and Southern Knights games,” said Bulls head coach Peter Murchie. “Blair MacPherson comes in at No 8 with Pete McCallum shifting to 7. Tom Jordan makes his debut at 12 after impressing in training and Rory Hughes is released from Glasgow on the left wing ,with Craig Gossman switching to the right.
Table-toppers Watsonians have also mixed up their side for this one, with winger Kody McGovern and centre DJ Innes joining the backline, which means Lewis Berg moves to the bench and Lomond MacPherson drops out the squad altogether.
Roan Frostwick is restored at scrum-half, last week’s hat-trick hero Cal Davies is replaced by Campbell Wilson at hooker, and Finn Hobbis starts at loose-head ahead of Harrison Courtney.
“Our squad have shown real character on the road and we want to step up again after a mixed performance against Stirling,” said Watsonians head coach Fergus Pringle.
Ayrshire Bulls: O Smith; C Gossman, T Beary, T Jordan, R Hughes; R Thompson, D Armstrong; G Reid, S Kitchem N Girffiths, F Hastie, L Morrice, G Bordill, P McCallum©, B Macpherson. Subs: A McGuire, M Scott, R Sayce, G Wilson, G Geldenhuys, H Warr, F Climo, M Davidson.
Watsonians: J Forbes; K McGovern, D Innes, J Reynolds, A Guthrie; L Millar©, R Frostwick; F Hobbis, C Wilson, N Borel, B Leitch, J Hodgson, M Badenhorst, C Boyle, M Inness. Subs: C Davies, H Courtney, J Gibson, M Kunavula, G Nelson, A Harris, L Berg, A Chalmers.
Super6 table as it stands –