Super6 Sprint: Ayrshire Bulls humble Southern Knights

Ayrshire Bulls winger Jamie Sheddon. Image: © Craig Watson -
Ayrshire Bulls winger Jamie Sheddon. Image: © Craig Watson -

Southern Knights 12

Ayrshire Bulls 62

ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards

SOUTHERN KNIGHTS suffered their heaviest defeat of the Super6 Sprint series in conceding ten tries to a rampant Ayrshire Bulls side that in comparison to the lightweight home forward pack, exuded a muscularity that quickly made the outcome of the game all too predictable. 

“No-one wants to make excuses but nevertheless there were a good few boys not playing today for the Knights. They were lightweight up front and Ayr played well. They were very physical. But we move on now and see what happens in the next two weeks” suggested Rob Moffat, the Director of Rugby at The Greenyards.

In what very quickly became a mismatch, Ayrshire Bulls used their muscularity to bully the Knights at the set-piece, providing choice possession for their backline to demonstrate at times, a finesse in attacking rugby, notably at centre where last season’s stand-out player Tom Jordan again produced a polished performance.

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Another back to excel was replacement scrum half Cameron Jones, a Scotland under-20 cap, whose ability to break created space for his outside backs.

Bulls’ coach, Pete Horne, spoke afterwards about his side demonstrating how they could improve after being run close by Heriot’s in their 17-14 win over the Goldenacre men in the last round. He said: “In terms of our physicality against Heriot’s we talked about taking it up several notches. We really took the game to Knights. We were aggressive and brilliant in defence. We just completely outworked them with a performance built on the back of hard work.”

A potential Bulls stampede was evident in the first few minutes of the game when the Knights’ set scrum was put under huge pressure resulting in the home forwards pack being forced to engage reverse gear.

Moreover,, the Bulls were looking beefy in the tackle and clearly intent on allowing any breakthrough from the Knights’ attack. But it was the line-out drive and maul that produced the first points, a try by flanker Ryan Sweeney to which Christian Townsend added the conversion.

Townsend then showed his running skills by swerving through a disorganised Knights defence for his side’s second try – and conversion. Next in the queue was Tom Jordan, who brushed off several tackles to grab the Bulls’ third touchdown, this time unconverted.

Fortunately for the game Knights had something to offer as demonstrated by Nathan Chamberlain, who sliced past several Ayrshire defenders before setting up a try for youngster Sam Derrick and then adding the extra points.


But that was to be Knights’ only points in the first half as the Bulls resumed scoring mode through Jordan after non-stop pressure from the visitors’ forwards and then quick hands from Townsend, who added the conversion.

Then in a final flurry before half time hooker Alex McGuire finished off a line-out maul before former Marr wing Jamie Sheddon powered over in the corner, Townsend’s conversion giving his side a 38-7 interval advantage.

The second half was not any easier for the Knights,  who could not stop Aaron Tait skipping over the line after a Cameron Jones break, nor Sheddon racing in for his second. Townsend converted the first of this early second half duo of scores before being replaced by Matt Minogue whose first duty was to converted a second try by Tait following a break by Liam McNamara.

The Bulls were reduced to 14  when replacement prop Andrew Nimmo was yellow- carded and immediately the Knights took advantage with a sprint down the left flank by replacement Aidan Cross whose inside pass found fellow replacement Finn Campbell in space for the hosts’ second try of the match.

But any thoughts of a revival were quickly scotched when Sheddon completed his hat-trick to confirm that the big winger means business at this  level of rugby.


Teams –

Southern Knights: C Grieve; B Wara, R Chalmers, C Scott, P Anderson; N Chamberlain, M Redpath; G Shiells, F Renwick©, I Brace, T Brown, R Knott, S Derrick, W Nelson, R Brown. Subs: R Anderson, C Bowker, W Owen, J Bett, F Campbell, A Cross, P Eti-Slater, K Clark.

Ayrshire Bulls: L McNamara; J Shedden, B Beattie, T Jordan, A Tait; C Townsend, C Jones; T Lambert, A McGuire, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, R Sweeney, T Brown, B McPherson©. Subs: R Tanner, A Nimmo, M Scott, E Bulger, J Knight, J Lenac, M Minogue, T Lanni.

Referee: Finlay Brown.


Scorers –

Southern Knights: Tries Derrick, Campbell; Con: Chamberlain.

Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Sweeney, Townsend, Jordan 2, McGuire, Shedden 3, Tait 2; Cons: Townsend 5, Minogue.

Scoring sequence (Southern Knights first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 5-19; 7-19; 7-24; 7-26; 7-31; 7-36; 7-38 (ht) 7-43; 7-45;  7-50; 7-55; 7-57; 12-57; 12-62.


Yellow card –

Ayrshire Bulls: Nimmo.


Man-of-the-Match: Ayrshire Bulls No 12 Tom Jordan again showed that straightening an attacking line can pay huge dividends.  Of course that’s what kiwi centres do as a matter of course but it still seems to not be part of our play-book in Scotland.

Talking point: The match was played to the back drop of a funfair in the adjacent park, but there was not much fun for an understrength Knights’ side nor much fairness in constantly being shoved around the pitch by heavier and more muscular opponents. Southern Knights are one of four teams in the east of Scotland and are perhaps suffering from this strange distribution of Super6 sides. Understandably few players would relish travelling to Melrose three or four times a week from the capital when they could compete for one of three Super6 sides in Edinburgh. The Greenyards side will find it increasingly difficult to attract players unless of course factors other than geography come into play.

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About Alan Lorimer 230 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.


  1. Perhaps the Sourthern Knights (and Muir) are the only teams treating Super 6 correctly? After all it is to develop young Scottish players to progress to the pro game? What’s the point in fielding a team full of 30+ year olds who have no chance of making it in the pro game and are just there to pick up a wage packet? The u20s was a clear sign that S6 should be used as a predominantly u23 league with maybe a couple overaged players sprinkled in to games.

  2. Quite enjoy watching the super 6 rugby and and it’s nice seeing rugby played in good weather. What I don’t get is the strategy and how the future will be better on the back of it. Is it to develop players for the pro game, if so time will tell but that won’t necessary help the clubs. Is it to grow the clubs involved, then there’s only 6 and they’re really clubs already so what’s the usp. Is it to grow the game at grass roots? Then you wouldn’t condense half the teams into one city, it saturates the market whilst not being avaliable across large swathes of the country. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong I just don’t get it although I’m sure many do. P.s. Southern Knights have something in common with the national team and clubs at all levels in that in some commentators eyes you are only ever a couple of games away from a crisis.

  3. Seem to be plenty people in agreement with my take on things .
    Interesting to see their comments .
    So it’s not just me then not happy with things at present .

  4. What people perhaps forget is that in the Borders our clubs are our towns; Hawick,Gala, Jedforest, Selkirk, Kelso and Langholm. Each club has their own stadium and clearly identifies with their town which enhances rivalry through sport. The Southern Knights who sound more like a boy band have no history or pedigree to work from and as they now import players from afar they’ll struggle to create much local interest.
    Border rugby has suffered in part due to the monies now needed to put a club team on the field each week but having attended some great Border derbies this past season where the likes of Hawick were hard pushed to beat Jed, Selkirk and Kelso there is no doubt local games bring out the crowds and performances. Even Melrose people haven’t bought into the Super 6 with prem one games getting bigger crowds and creating more interest… town v town but all friends at the final whistle.
    I predict Super 6 will disappear after a couple of years and hopefully with new faces in charge at Murrayfield we can begin to tailor our rugby to suit our capabilities and live within our playing and financial means.

    • There is a real mixed bag of comments on this topic with some offering some genuine opinions and others just looking to stick the boot in. It’s still pretty early days for Super 6 and the Knights have been successful and are currently less so. It makes sense to me for them to try and be a pseudo district. That way they could try and bring the best players from around the Borders to play at the best level they can and give some of them a shop window to get a pro contract. Hopefully that would build some goodwill back to the clubs and doesn’t erode the local derby games which would still be there. Easier said than done! I think a big stumbling block across Super 6 is not being able to play up/down between Super 6 and the Premiership or National 1. If you get injured or just end up holding tackle bags then you’d be itching to get back to a local club and play regularly. It would encourage players to give Super 6 a try and hopefully benefit from the training etc without fear of missing out if they don’t get on the pitch much. Maybe they could have a rule based on appearances (something like if you play in more than two thirds of Super 6 then you can’t then play back in the Prem).

    • A very good summary of the situation Stewart. In my experience when it comes to rugby Borders folks are knowledgeable, loyal and sporting. There is of course the odd sad exception (see below).

  5. For goodness sake it’s one result involving a team that’s barely 2 years old. They thrashed Heriot’s last year and they will come again. Played when Hawick took 69 points of Heriot’s also seen Heriot’s take 60 plus off Hawick, it’s sport.

    • A sair fecht, Bear! Truth is, the numerous “issues” now bedevilling rugby in Melrose lie deeper than any of the teams……

  6. It is always fun seeing borders clubs destroy each other from within. Scottish Rugby and Dodson have handed you everything you need so can have no complaints there.

    • As your name suggests you do appear to be very angry AngryGala2. However I suspect with all that bile the person you are most angry with is yourself. I pity you.

      • How true, JW – AG2 only has to look back at Netherdale to confirm what a bunch of non-rugby plonkers can do to a once-great club if they gain control, as those nonentities “Inspector Clouseau” & “Swiss Tony” did at Gala some 10 years ago.

  7. Reassuring to see so many comments advocating a District representative approach, albeit without saying so in as many words! Of course it makes sense for the Borders….

    Rugby in Melrose under “transformative, new guard” management has its own unique issues to resolve, across all key areas including the Sevens. Important but sensitive changes required in approach, strategy, culture and personnel!

  8. Shame to see no words of praise for the Ayrshire bulls below the line. A fine example of a well run and well coached franchise and are getting their due reward.

    As for the southern knights, another example of the poor showing from border rugby teams this season just as we saw in the premiership.

    • Hawick were in Playoffs .
      We’re the only team to beat Currie in league .
      So not that poor eh

      • Yes but got papped out in the semis, also-rans rather than contenders once again

      • Mister C .
        I could arrange a meeting with Matt Landels if you want a blether about Hawick rfc .
        He could help you with you’re grievances.

      • Grievance with Hawick? Deary me. I’m merely disappointed that the rugby heartlands of the borders are not competing as well as they could. It was you who mentioned Hawick and all I did was respond with the blunt truth of their league season. I’m not one for giving undue praise, thats all.

  9. Having some inside knowledge of the situation at Southern Knights, I would be very hesitant to apportion blame on travel as the sole reason for 15 boys leaving the squad last year. Yes, players move on every year from clubs but when an exodus of this size happens, there needs to be some questions asked of those in charge. Why would players, some of whom have travelled from Edinburgh to Melrose for years, now all decide at the same time that they no longer wanted to travel, unless that decision was taken out of their hands. Let’s not forget that last years’ squad narrowly lost the Super 6 final to a much better Ayr team than took to the field on Saturday. There are also local boys who have been great servants of both Melrose and Southern Knights who have found themselves without contracts this year. Pretty sure it isn’t the travel stopping the likes of James Head and Craig Jackson from lending their vast experience and presence to this young Knights squad. For those who think the “Southern Knights” name is what’s stopping players from Jed and Hawick from wanting to take part in the Super 6, they are sadly mistaken. A combination of club loyalty to their hometown team, more money/untaxed money 😉 and in some cases, the fact is that they just aren’t good enough to make that step up and are happy to be big fish in the small pond of Premiership rugby. Going forward, I think a few questions need to be asked about the conduct of the Directors and how this has impacted the current situation at Southern Knights.

  10. The franchise is suffering directly as a result of in fighting in the club Perhaps they need to make a decision and let the players supporters know if they want a winning game franchise or just want to wind it up. To go from top equal winning team to a team that will struggle to win anything needs considered to who or what drove that change

    • The SRU should have encouraged the South to run the franchise, played games around the border club grounds and the whole of the borders would have bought into it including some of the best young talent in this area who do not want to play for a team that is Melrose in disguise!!
      Attended the mini Melrose festival today…..very poorly executed where nothing that was in the festival programme was followed, topping of with Live Borders closing down the main pitch at 1pm before the programme schedule was complete as the pitch had not been booked after this time.
      Seems this once great club is very much is disarray, top to bottom.

      • Grey Gorrila please point out what in the Mini’s festival wasn’t ran to the programme on the main pitch? The P6s had an internal game at the end of the day and the pitch was used for the entire time without being forced off? Absolute nonsense.

  11. Name the borders based players that could play super six rugby from local clubs and they may get a chance.dont think it was dodson who named the team . Mibby its been the changes in the playing squad , coaching staff and management that hasnt worked as some thoughtcit would.remember the southern knights wern,t too bad last year with the failed welsh 7ns players n his team mates of last year

    • This has nothing to do with Dobbson or the SRU . This is down to the people running melrose rugby club . They may all be good business men in there own right . But they are making some large mistakes running a club . A club that had a amazing professional environment.
      A squad that got to the final of the last super 6
      Very sad on the great men who work so hard to keep this club at the top of scottish rugby to watch it fall to this level .

      • Dave you clearly no nothing about the club ,winning at all costs nearly bankrupted MRFC I believe , the gentlemen you refer to were asked to help save the club , (you don’t need to look to far,,,, at football to see what happened to rangers when winning was more important than anything )
        Your correct a great club and MRFC will come again , the club has the right to go in the direction it wants , bob C left to further his career and did brilliantly on and off the field , however changes happen and they take time ,

        Give them a chance , Saturday was hard for all especially the young boys that went out there and gave all they could , 4 injuries in the forwards would hurt any team ,

        Maybe you should help out and start walking rather than talking
        Remember these volunteers put the time effort in to the helping unlike you

      • Sadly Cyd you are banging your head against a brick wall here. Far too many haters with their own agendas including one that is apparently suggesting criminal activity.

        I’m surprised David allows potentially libelous statements on his website but that’s down to him. After all it’s his reputation and his pocket that is likely to be affected.

  12. Surely the point of the Southern Knights is to take advantage of the “heartland” of Scottish rugby the Borders, not to try and compete with three teams already in Edinburgh?

  13. First time I’ve commented on here .I’ll tell it as I see it.

    This today was a total embarrassment for Borders rugby . Sparse to non existent crowd .why is that I wonder.?
    This franchise has no connection to most rugby supporters in this area .totally aloof to them.
    It was supposed to be for the benefit of local young Borders players getting a chance to get on the ladder in Scottish rugby .so why bring failed Welch 7s players .others from overseas here ?.

    Unless you have a connection somehow with Melrose very few other players from local clubs seem to get many chances .Coaches also out of their depth.
    This is not just a Melrose team it’s a Borders team .they seem to have forgot that .
    Should also have had a Borders name ….Not a one made up by Dodson .
    As I said a total embarrassment

    • Name the borders based players that could play super six rugby from local clubs and they may get a chance.dont think it was dodson who named the team . Mibby its been the changes in the playing squad , coaching staff and management that hasnt worked as some thoughtcit would.remember the southern knights wern,t too bad last year with the failed welsh 7ns players n his team mates of last year

    • Some fair comments Mouse but there are wider issues.
      I don’t think the comment about competing with Edinburgh clubs was about attracting Edinburgh people to come and play in the Borders; I think the reality is that people who grew up in the Borders, but now live in Edinburgh e.g. Godsmark and Moody have chosen to play for a team local to where they live now rather than do the journey to Melrose 3 or 4 times a week. Why?

      It looks to me like there have been some mistakes made in establishing Southern Knights. It doesn’t help when commentators mistakenly call them ‘Melrose’ and speak about a long rivalry with Ayr – the Knights and the Bulls are meant to be new entities.

      There a number of players who started at other Border clubs in the team – Shiells and Herdman at Kelso; Renwick, Suddon and Redpath at Hawick; Pickles at Dunbar & Selkirk etc. But undoubtedly there seems a reluctance from established players at Hawick and Jed to play in this team that wouldn’t have been there if it had been a ‘South’ or a ‘Borders’ team and was less closely identified with Melrose. Would a team with Shaun Muir, Andrew Mitchell, Lewis Young or Gregor Young in it have folded like yesterday? Probably not. In fact I reckon the Hawick team would have beaten Southern Knights yeterday.

      Having said all that, the Knights have been a bit unlucky. As well as the departure of some many experienced players to other Super 6 teams this season – I reckon at least are playing elsewhere, so something is not healthy at the Greenyards – they had a core of expereinced forward all out with injury yesterday; Suddon, Redpath, Borthwick and Ferrie were all outstanding last season and all posted missing yesterday.

      My biggest concern is that we might have a ‘Murrayfield’ solution imposed on Southern Knights to try and bring them up back up to the standard of the other teams, rather than a Borders agreed strategy.

      • Moody Blue.
        Never mentioned anything about competing with Edinburgh clubs..
        Rugby followers from all over the Borders find it hard to warm to this franchise .
        There must be reasons for this .
        The Greenyards consortium must have a good look at what is going on within or I can see this going belly up if they don’t connect with Borders rugby .
        The Borders is the heartland of rugby in Scotland .a team from here .shouldn’t be getting pumped at home by 60 points .somethings not right.
        You’re right saying a Hawick team would have cuffed them yesterday .


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