SCHOOLBOY Callum Norrie is set to make his first start for Stirling County at tight-head prop in tomorrow [Friday] night’s Super6 Sprint Series round four clash against Boroughmuir Bears at Bridgehaugh [kick-off time 7.45pm]. The recent Scotland Under-20s cap has been promoted after short spells off the bench for both County and Watsonians [as emergency front-row cover] last weekend.
With Angus Fraser – who is graduating from an academy contract to a senior deal at Scotstoun this summer – replacing Gregor Hiddleston at hooker, and George Breese taking over from Cam McMillan at loose-head, it is an all new starting front-row. Meanwhile, Murphy Walker is released by Warriors to sit on the bench.
The only change behind the scrum sees teenager in Ben Salmon replace Glasgow Warrior Walter Fifita on the left wing.
“We are really looking forward to being back at Bridgehaugh,” said County head coach Ben Cairns. “Our first home match of the season [against Ayrshire Bulls a fortnight ago] was a great experience, not only because of the performance on the pitch, but off it too where there was real buzz around the ground all day. We are hoping to have another big crowd for what promises to be another special atmosphere under the Friday night lights.
“The Bears are yet to pick up their first win but have been competitive in all three rounds so far,” he added. “Our matches are always tight affairs that tend to go down to the wire so we expect it to be another tight contest this time around.
Bears are boosted by the return of Trystan Andrews from injury, replacing the injured Craig Keddie at No 8, with openside Scott McGinley taking over the captaincy. Josh King returns to his old stomping at blindside flanker. Hamish Bain and Ewan Stewart link up in the second-row, while Callum Smith comes in at tight-head prop for his first start.
Murray Johnstone replaces Ruairidh Swan at scrum-half, and Adam Scott returns on the wing in place of Joe Jenkins, while Scotland Under-18s captain Liam McConnell is set to make his debut off the bench.
“Last weekend against Watsonians was a very tough encounter physically and took its toll on a few players which sees a bit of a change in some areas of selection,” said head coach Graham Shiel. “It has been a very challenging first three games and unlikely to change any time soon as we travel to an in form Stirling County.
“We were unable to apply any real pressure on Watsonians last week which was disappointing as a squad, but we have had time to reflect on our performance and have a chance to make improvements which is a must if we want to challenge Stirling County at Bridgehaugh.”
Stirling County (versus Boroughmuir Bears at Bridgehaugh, Friday @ 7.45pm): : L Trotter; R McKnight, D Innes, M Holden B Salmon; E Cunningham, H Russell; G Breese, A Fraser, C Norrie, J Pow, H McLeod, H Ferguson, C Gordon©, B Grant. Subs: G Hiddleston, J McKenna, M Walker, L Skinner, J Spurway, F Burgess, C Beckett, M Gray.
Boroughmuir Bears: T Brown; G Faulds, D Munn, R McCallum, A Scott; H Mercer, M Johnstone; B Sweet, C Tait, C Smith, E Stewart, H Bain, J Kings, S McGinley©, T Andrews. Subs: I Carmichael, C Anderson, M Goodwin, J Fisher, M Mncube, B Young, L McConnell, R Kerr.
Referee: Ian Kenny
Key clash: DJ Innes versus Duncan Munn
Verdict: Stirling County are on a bit of a roll, while Boroughmuir’s fighting spirit has not been enough to get them up and running yet this season. With a settled backline and plenty of firepower to come off the bench, it is hard to see past the hosts here.