IT is Ladies Day at Millbrae on Saturday and the likely large crowd can expect an exciting Super6 Championship match in the early evening with the Ayrshire Bulls and the Southern Knights playing for double points.
The Bulls will be looking for the 10 points from this one – which has been doubled up as there is no room in the calendar for the twice-postponed clash at The Greenyards earlier to take place – to keep up the pressure on leaders Watsonians.
On the other hand, the Knights know if they can take eight, nine or 10 points from this one then it could keep their play-off semi-final hopes alive.
There are a number of changes this weekend for the Bulls after a thumping win at Stirling Wolves last time out. Up front, there is a new-look front-row of William Farquhar, Alex McGuire and Glasgow’s Scotland man Simon Berghan, while Warriors academy player Archie Smeaton and Scotland under-20 back-row Tim Brown come into the back-row.
Cam Jones and Will Hunt form the halfback partnership with Glasgow academy player Andy Stirrat is back at 12 after injury.
Jamie Drummond, Calvin Henderson, Ewan Hamilton-Bulger and the experienced playmaker Frazier Climo are added to the bench.
“We welcome Southern Knights to Millbrae this weekend and while we were happy with the performance against Stirling, we still feel there are areas we can improve on,” head coach Pat MacArthur said. “It’s Ladies Day at the club and with this fixture counting for double point the players will be determined to put in a good performance.”
There is an exciting, young back-row lining up for the visitors with Sam Derrick linking up with Edinburgh Rugby academy players Harri Morris and Rudi Brown. Former Scotland under-20 cap Morris is back after a long injury lay-off.
Hooker Fraser Renwick returns to lead the side with Russell Anderson on the bench, while there is a new-look centre pairing after Robbie Chalmers and Patrick Anderson were both injured versus Heriot’s, opening up opportunities for Kyle McGhie at 12 with Korie Winters at 13.
Edinburgh academy player Finn Douglas gets a start on the wing and Keiran Clark replaces the benched David Colvine at full-back. Permit players Ali Rogers and Robbie Deans are on the bench to help cover the front-row.
The average age of the Knights squad is 21 and head coach Bruce Ruthven said: “The players are under no illusion of the size of the task ahead at Millbrae but are looking forward to the challenge on Saturday.
“The Bulls have been going very well and have had some big score lines on their side and they possess some very experienced and high calibre players.
“We know that we will need to front up in defence and be more accurate in attack to stay on a par with the Bulls. Last week we were all disappointed with the outcome of the game especially after only having ourselves to blame for the three tries we let in, so there is much improvement is needed if are going to be competitive this weekend.
“The players have worked hard this week and are keen to take their learnings over the past few games and step up their performances. We have a very youthful core to the team who can be very dangerous alongside some experienced, hardened players of our own – so we’re all looking forward to seeing how the game plays out.”
Ayrshire Bulls (versus Southern Knights @ Bridgehaugh, Saturday 5pm): Liam McNamara; A Tait, T Glendinning, A Stirrat, E Caven; W Hunt, C Jones; W Farquhar, A McGuire, S Berghan, E Bloodworth, A Samuel, A Smeaton, T Brown, B MacPherson©, Subs: J Malcolm, J Drummond, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, G Wilson, Lewis McNamara, C Elliot, F Climo.
Southern Knights: K Clark; A Cross, K Winters, K McGhie, F Douglas; C Scott, D Crawford; G Shiells, F Renwick©, I Brace, J Campbell, E Demirel, S Derrick, H Morris, R Brown. Subs: R Anderson, A Rogers, R Deans, J Miller, A Ferrie, W Nelson, B Pickles, D Colvine.
Referee: Ruairidh Campbell.
Key battle: Blair MacPherson versus Rudi Brown.
Verdict: After they scored 64 points against the Wolves last time out, the Bulls will want to keep the foot on the gas here. They should have more than enough quality in their ranks to win this one, but the young talent coming through at the Knights is great to see, and in 18-year-old back-row Rudi Brown they have a real talent. Experience will come good on this occasion, though.