THERE will be a something of a reunion feel to the Heriot’s versus Southern Knights clash at Goldenacre this afternoon (kick-off 4.30pm). Former Knights players Euan McLaren, Murdo McAndrew, Sam Pecqueur and Nyle Godsmark are all in the Heriot’s starting XV which should make this one pretty tasty.
Meanwhile, Jack Mann, Iain Wilson and Jason Hill make up a strong back-row with plenty of carrying ability while Gregor Tait, the winger who was Tennent’s Premiership regular season top try scorer with Musselburgh, could debut at this level off the bench.
“This is a great opportunity for those selected to show what they can do,” Heriot’s head coach Andy Kelly said. “We have selected a starting 15 that we think will compete with the Southern Knights, but we have a great bench to come on and make an impact too.
“Players, coaches and management are really looking forward to getting back into competitive rugby. We have a great challenge for our first game as the Knights were runners-up in last year’s competition and are a very good side.”
There has also been a bit of travel in the opposite direction of the A68 with Nathan Chamberlain, who has previously played for Heriot’s, released by Edinburgh Rugby to play at stand-off for the Southern Knights. His scrum-half is Murray Redpath, the Scotland under-20 cap and and son of ex-international nine Bryan. Outside them, at 13, it will be interesting to see what impact ex-Samoa Sevens player Paul Eti Slater makes.
Scotland under-20 cap Keiran Clark is an exciting prospect to watch out for at full-back while, while former Hawick player Fraser Renwick captains the side from hooker and Harry Borthwick, one of the stars of Super6 in 2021, will look to build on that from No 8.
“We’ve had to make some tight decisions regarding selection across the board, but we have picked a selection of youth and experience for our first outing of the season,” said Bruce Ruthven, the Knights head coach. “We are looking forward to making a start and we know it will be a tough game at Goldenacre.”
Heriot’s Rugby: R Jones; J Couper, N Godsmark, L Armstrong, S Pecqueur; B Houston, M McAndrew; C Keen, M Liness, E McLaren, R Leishman©, F Hastie, J Mann, I Wilson, J Hill. Subs: C Fenton, J Scott, S Cessford, J Campbell, R Seydak, J Gelderbloom, F Campbell, G Tait.
Southern Knights: K Clark; P Anderson, P Eti Slater, C Scott, B Wara; N Chamberlain, M Redpath; G Shiells, F Renwick©, I Brace, D Redpath, D Suddon, R Knott, A Ferrie, H Borthwick. Subs: C Bowker, R Anderson, B Riddell, W Nelson, R Brown, B Afshar, I Sim, C Grieve.
Key clash: Jason Hill versus Harry Borthwick
Verdict: This really is an intriguing game, Heriot’s finished sixth in last year’s competition while the Knights were second to the Ayrshire Bulls, but the latter have had a lot of upheaval. Euan McLaren was the best tight-head in Super6 last time out, so to have him now in their camp is a big boost to Heriot’s and the halfback pairing of Murdo McAndrew and Bruce Houston looks an exciting one on paper. If the Knights pack can get parity they could set-up an away win, but Heriot’s will be fired up here.