IT must feel like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire for Heriot’s this weekend as they look to move on from last Sunday’s bruising home defeat to in-form Ayrshire Bulls by getting something positive out of tomorrow [Friday] night’s trip to The Greenyards to take on top of the table Southern Knights.
It has been a frustrating Super6 campaign so far for the Edinburgh side, and their pre-season aim of making it into the top two in order to compete in the championship play-off appears to be beyond them now – they are currently nine points adrift with each team still having 15 points to play for – so a more realistic target might be to finish in the top half.
Head coach Andy Kelly says he has made as many changes as he cans to the starting XV this week because of the short turnaround, but the need to shake things up after the team’s lacklustre performance against Bulls last Sunday was surely also a factor.
Full-back Ross Jones, winger Callum Young, scrum-half Alex Ball and second-row Fraser Hastie are the only players retained in the same positions as they started the Bulls match, meanwhile Rory McMichael, Rob Kay, Ruairidh Leishman and captain Iain Wilson keep their places in the side but have changed position.
Heriot’s are boosted by the release of Edinburgh academy prospects Dan Gamble (on the comeback trail after missing the summer’s U20s Six Nations with a neck injury) at tight-head prop and Nathan Chamberlain (who kicked the winning points against Watsonians a fortnight ago) at stand-off.
“The squad is very disappointed about our result last week and are looking to in a performance they are capable of,” said Kelly. “The Knights are playing well and will be on a high from their last match so it’ll be a tough game.”
For Southern Knights head coach Rob Chrystie, it is more a case of tinkering as he looks to keep his team’s good recent form ticking over.
Edinburgh summer recruit Freddy Owsley gets a hit-out on the wing, Cameron Jones swaps in for Murdo McAndrew at scrum-half, Russell Anderson swaps in for Fraser Renwick at hooker, and Ruaridh Knott is at blindside flanker in place of Harry Borthwick.
“This weekend under the lights at the Greenyards we host Heriots who have shown throughout the FOSROC Super 6 tournament they have the capabilities to cause any team problems with their attack and varied kicking game,” said Chrystie. “They will travel with a point to prove and it is important we are focused and accurate from the start.”
Southern Knights (v Heriot’s at The Greenyards on Friday 24th September @ 7.30pm): J Jenkins; S Pecqueur, N Godsmark©, C Scott, F Owsley; J Baggott, C Jones; S Gunn, R Anderson, E McLaren, J Head, A Runciman, R Knott, A Ferrie, I Moody. Substitutes: F Renwick, G Shiells, C Crookshanks, D Redpath, I Sim, M McAndrew, A Mitchell, P Anderson.
Heriot’s: R Jones; J Couper, R McMichael, R Kay, C Young; N Chamberlain, A Ball; C Keen, M Liness, D Gamble, R Seydak, F Hastie, R Leishman, I Wilson©, C Marshall. Substitutes: C Fenton, A Nimmo, J Scott, J McLean, J Hill, J Gelderbloom, B Houston, B Evans.