WHO would win in a fight between a drove of bulls and a sleuth of bears? It sounds like the sort of question which would have barstool experts debating long into the night, but as far as Scottish rugby is concerned the answer will be reached at around 4.45pm this Saturday afternoon, when the Super6 franchises playing out of Ayr and Boroughmuir complete their round two clash at Millbrae.
Both sides will be keen to kick-start their campaigns after opening weekend defeats, with the home pack having a point to prove after being fairly comprehensively steamrollered by Heriot’s last Sunday, while the visitors will be keen to create a few more opportunities for their dangerous outside backs than they managed against Stirling County on Friday night.
The Bulls will be wearing their new change strip which advertises their recently formed partnership with local charity Whiteleys Retreat, who provide vital therapeutic respite breaks to children, young people and their families with cancer or other life altering illnesses. The charity package includes signed match strips, a table at a pre-match lunch, meet & greet and fundraising opportunities at home matches and events. So far, nearly £1500 has been raised for Whiteleys Retreat through the partnership. The limited-edition jersey will be available for purchase from both the Ayrshire Bulls and Whiteleys Retreat online shops, with the profits being shared equally between Whiteleys Retreat and the Ayr Community Rugby Trust.
The later game on Saturday afternoon [4pm kick-off] sees Stirling County host a Southern Knights side smarting from their late collapse against Watsonians last week. Having seen his side battle to victory against the Bears in week one, County head coach Ben Cairns will be looking for a slightly more polished performance this time out, but without sacrificing any of the grit his team showed at Meggetland.
This week’s Sunday match sees Heriot’s and Watsonians put their winning records on the line in ‘The Rumble in the Goldie Jungle’, which looks certain to be a fiercely contested Edinburgh derby. Heriots’ pack power was crucial to last weekend’s impressive scalping of the Bulls at Millbrae, but stand-in head coach Phil Smith has not been cautious about mixing it up this week with youngster Dan Gamble replacing stalwart Struan Cessford at tight-head, while skipper Iain Wilson (shifting from blindside to No 8) will be the only member of the pack to have started both games.
AYRSHIRE BULLS v BOROUGHMUIR BEARS
Venue: Millbrae @ 3pm
Ayrshire Bulls: O Smith; T Lewis, D McCluskey, S McDowall, R Hughes; F Climo, D Armstrong; G Reid, S Kitchen, R Sayce, L Morrice, F Hastie, G Bordill, P McCallum©, B MacPherson. Subs: L Anderson, M Scott, N Griffiths, G Geldenhuys, G Wilson, H Warr, R Thompson, I McNulty.
Boroughmuir Bears: G Parker; C Gray, J Steele, A Russell, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw©, T Wilson; M Downer, G Shannon, D Winning, E Stewart, C Atkinson, B Flockhart, T Gordon, C Keddie. Subs: T Francombe, G Thornton, M McGinley, W Inglis, G Cannie, K McGhie, M Cimprich, A Mncube.
TEAM NEWS –
Ayrshire Bulls: Eight changes to the team which lost the season opener at home to Heriot’s last weekend, with Ruaridh Sayce, Fraser Hastie, Lars Morrice, David Armstrong, Tom Lewis (formerly of Durham University, Waikato University and England Student 7s) and Ollie Smith called into the starting XV, alongside Glasgow Warriors pros Stafford McDowall and Rory Hughes. George Bordill moves from the second-row to the back-row.
Boroughmuir Bears: Eight changes here, too, evenly split between forwards and backs. Gavin Parker, Jack Steele, Archie Russell and Tom Wilson are added behind the scrum, while Michael Downer, and Ewan Stewart join the tight-five, and Glasgow Warriors pros Bruce Flockhart (who came off the bench last week) and Thomas Flockhart are in the back-row.
KEY BATTLE: Stafford McDowall versus Archie Russell
STIRLING COUNTY v SOUTHERN KNIGHTS
Stirling County: B Thomson; E MacGarvie, R Kent, G Hughes, L Trotter; J Henderson, C Korteweg; B Dineen, R Kennedy©, M Walker, O Bartlett, A Davidson, G Arnott, M Smith D Taylor-Menzies. Subs: A Thomson, A Wood, C Brown, C Henderson, C Gordon, A Goudie, O Horne, A McLean.
Southern Knights: C Whyte; J Jenkins, P Anderson, A Nagle, M Mvelase-Julyan; T Galbraith, M McAndrew; G Shiells©, F Renwick, E McQuillin, A Runciman, R Knott, N Irvine-Hess, R Darge, I Moody. Subs: R Anderson, S Gunn, C Young, D Redpath, D Taylor, S Hutchison, N Sweeney, G Wood.
TEAM NEWS –
Stirling County: Brandon Thomson is once again released by Glasgow Warriors to play full-back. The only change in the backline is at outside centre with Robbie Kent coming in for Landon Hayes. In the pack, two Warriors come in [second-row Andrew Davidson and openside flanker Matt Smith] while two drop out [tighthead prop Adam Nicol and No 8 Adam Ashe].
Southern Kings: Last week’s captain Fraser Thomson has dropped out so Ciaran Whyte takes over the No 15 jersey and Grant Shiells will lead the team from loose-head prop. Andrew Nagle comes in at inside centre, Tom Galbraith shifts to stand-off and Struan Hutchison drops to the bench. In the pack, Fraser Renwick replaces Russell Anderson at hooker, Ruaridh Knott starts in the second-row head of Dalton Redpath, and Rory Darge is for Dylan Taylor at openside,
KEY BATTLE: Matt Smith versus Rory Darge
SUNDAY MATCH –
HERIOT’S v WATSONIANS
VENUE: Goldenacre @ 2pm
Heriot’s: R McMichael; J Blain, S Robeson, R Kay, J Spencer; S Edwards, A Ball; C Keen, A Johnstone, D Gamble, C Jupp, R Leishman, J Mann, S Riddell, I Wilson©. Subs: M Liness, J Scott, S Cessford, C Marshall, J Hill, A Simmers, C Hutchison, R Chalmers.
Watsonians: J Forbes; L MacPherson, L Berg, J Reynolds, A Guthrie; L Millar©, R Frostwick; H Courtney, C Davies, N Borel, B Leitch, J Hodgson, J Miller, C Boyle, M Inness. Subs: C Wilson, F Hobbis, J Gibson, F Simpson, M Badenhorst, M Scott, A Chalmers, K McGovern.
TEAM NEWS –
Heriot’s: Phil Smith has stuck to his vow to go with three teams pre-selected at the start of the season for the first three matches, which means last week’s man-of-the-match Cammy Hutchison drops to the bench with Scott Robeson taking his place in the centre. Jack Blain gets his chance to start on the wing, with Rory McMichael shifting to full-back, while James Spencer (formerly of Loughborough College) is on the other wing. Former Scotland 7s captain Scott Riddell gets his chance at open-side, in a back-row which also contains Jack Mann and captain Iain Wilson, who has shifted from blindside to No 8 and is the only member of the pack to have started last week.
Watsonians: The only change in the backline sees Lomond Macpherson replace Andrew Chalmers on the wing. In the pack, it is all change in the front-row, with New Zealander Harrison Courtney coming off the bench to swap places with Finn Hobbis at loose-head, Cal Davies and Campbell Wilson doing the same at hooker, and Nathan Borel coming in for Jack Stanley – who appears to be facing a lengthy lay-off with a shoulder injury – at tight-head. James Miller starts at blindside with Michael Badenhorst dropping to the bench. Winger Kody McGovern from the Bay of Plenty will make his first competitive appearance for the team from the bench.
KEY BATTLE: Scott Riddell versus Conor Boyle
CURRENT LEAGUE TABLE –