WHETHER the home team is Melrose or the Southern Knights, matches at the Greenyards when Watsonians are the visitors are invariably tasty affairs. And although the teams were separated by the length of the table at the end of the Sprint Series in June, the Edinburgh team only got the better of their head-to-head meeting in the Borders by nine points.
So the Knights will go into the match tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon with a fair degree of confidence. And head coach Bruce Ruthven, for one, believes it will be the perfect gauge of his team’s progress.
“That’s exactly what we want – the Sprint champions at home,” he said. “There’s never a dull game between the two teams – not that there are many in Super6, as everybody is super-competitive. There’s a lot of history between the two clubs.
“We weren’t far off beating Watsonians when we played them in the Sprint – it was back to that inaccuracy at times and the consistency throughout the 80 minutes. We just fell short. We’ll be confident going into the game.
“We are a fairly new and young squad compared to the season before. We’ve got to be realistic: it’s going to take a bit of time to really get that accuracy and consistency week in, week out. We have got some really strong older players and some really young and exciting players, but it will take time.
“We got better in the Sprint and we’re comfortable with knowing what we need to do to get where we want to get to. Going into the Championship, we’ve had a good pre-season and we’re confident we’re going to keep on getting better.”
As Sprint winners, Watsonians will be seen in some quarters as front-runners for the Championship. But their head coach Fergus Pringle has a simple message for anyone – including his own players – who may think that.
“We’ve said we’re not Super6 champions really,” he said. ” The Ayrshire Bulls were really good last year and deserved winners the way they finished the competition, so I think everyone is chasing them.
“We did well in the Sprint. We had a lot of close games and were a bit lucky at times. We just want to keep developing as a group, as a team.
“In the Sprint competition there were fine margins. It’s easy to just focus on the fact that we won it, but the reality is a lot of those games were within a score and could have gone either way. There were a couple of big moments in those games – for example we got an intercept to win the last game, and we probably would not have won the game if Stirling weren’t chasing the game, because they could have kicked the ball out and won.”
Southern Knights (v Watsonians at the Greenyards, tomorrow [Saturday] 4pm): A Cross; P Anderson, R Chalmers, C Scott, W Wara; C Grieve, K McGhie; G Shiells, F Renwick (captain), A Brace, J Campbell, R Knott, A Ferrie, W Nelson, S Derrick. Substitutes: D Hood, C Bowker, S Cessford, E Demirel, J Miller, D Crawford, K Clark, D Colvine.
Watsonians: D Coetzer; L MacPherson, L Berg, C Eastgate, A Guthrie; J Baggott, M Scott; H Courtney, C Wilson,C Lamberton, L Ball, J Berrisford, S Cecil (captain), K Main, N Irvine-Hess. Substitutes: C Davies, R Bratton, R Deans, K van Niekirk, I Moody, R Brand, L Millar, H Paterson.