SUPER6 table-toppers Southern Knights will look to put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack when they take on second in the league Watsonians at The Greenyards tomorrow night – but they know that there is nothing more dangerous than a wounded beast, and their opponents will make the trip to the Borders feeling they have several points to prove.
The Myreside men were toppled from the summit of the Super6 table when they surrendered a 17-3 half-time lead to end up going down 20-21 to Heriot’s last weekend, and have since been shaken by the loss of influential props Steven Longwell and Matias Sonzogni Argiro for the campaign run-in, who have signed professional contracts in the English Championship and French Fédérale 1 respectively.
Having previously lost their captain and chief playmaker Lee Millar to injury for the rest of the season, Fergus Pringle‘s side have not had their troubles to seek in recent weeks, but the softly spoken South African is remaining level-headed, and he is not looking any further ahead than the next challenge.
“It’s always a tough challenge going down to the Greenyards and one we are excited about taking on this week,” he said. “Our focus is on putting in an accurate and composed 80 minute performance. We’ll need to do that to get the result against a quality Knights team.”
Props Harrison Courtney and Angus Williams are added to the starting pack, with Sam Grahamslaw, who started at loose-head last weekend, dropping to the bench. Nathan Borel returns to the squad as a ‘long term injury’ and will also be a replacement front-row for this match.
South African-born former Scotland Under-20s star Kwagga Van Niekerk starts at blindside, Roan Frostwick gets his first start of the campaign at scrum-half, and Lewis Berg returns from injury to partner Scott King in the midfield.
Southern Knights head coach Rob Chrystie has also tinkered with his side following last Sunday’s bonus-point win over Boroughmuir.
Cammy Scott and Joe Jenkins return to the backline to start at inside-centre and full-back, respectively, while Shaun Gunn swaps in with Grant Shiells at loose head. James Head starts in the second-row, and Alan Ferrie gets the nod at openside-flanker.
“Watsonians will be looking to put right some wrongs from last weekend’s fixture but have shown over the Super6 competition that they are an extremely strong team who are hard to beat,” said Chrystie.
Southern Knights (v Watsonians at The Greenyards, Friday 7.30pm): J Jenkins; P Anderson, N Godsmark©, C Scott, S Pecqueur; J Baggott, M McAndrew; S Gunn, F Renwick, E McLaren, A Runciman, J Head, H Borthwick, A Ferrie, I Moody. Substitutes: R Anderson, G Shiells, C Crookshanks, D Redpath, R Knott, C Jones, A Mitchell, I Sim.
Watsonians: J Forbes©; H Elms, L Berg, S King, L Macpherson; M Morrison, R Frostwick; H Courtney, C Davies, A Williams,, L Ball, M Badenhorst, K van Niekerk, K Main, S Daly. Substitutes: R Graham, S Grahamslaw, N Borel, K Watt, C Wilson, H Fisher, R Cullen, D Coetzer.