Super6 Sprint: Watsonians aim to claim title in style against Stirling

'Home' team have Edinburgh's Connor Boyle in back row for Meggetland clash while County can call on Warriors winger Walter Fifita

Watsonians and Stirling County shared the spoils in their two meetings during last year's Super6. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Watsonians and Stirling County have enjoyed some tight battles in Super6 both this season and last. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

WATSONIANS  go into their final FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series match with Stirling County on Friday evening knowing that one match point or more will see them crowned champions.

However, County know that if they can get a bonus-point win at Meggetland – ‘Sonians’ temporary home – and keep their opponents from getting anything on the night then things will get really interesting.

Then both sides would be on 27 points and it would all come down to points difference with Watsonians currently on +41 and County on +39. As a result, it is all to play for and should be a cracker.


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For this one unbeaten Watsonians have been boosted by the availability of a number of players who have been involved with Edinburgh Rugby in recent weeks. props Harrison Courtney and Angus Williams (who are Watsonians contracted and been vital back up for the pro team) start as do back-row Connor Boyle and centre Matt Currie. The latter was named in the Scotland summer tour party this week

Mesu Kunavula, another Edinburgh man, played six last time out for Watsonians against Ayrshire Bulls and is at No 8 for this one. Iain Moody is injured.

Edinburgh’s academy player Harry Paterson also returns at full-back in place of Dom Coetzer, and former Scotland under-20s man Kwagga van Niekerk comes into the second row.

When these sides met prior to the play-offs in week one of the regular season at Myreside in mid-April, only a late penalty won it for the Edinburgh side 26-24. Ahead of the rematch, Watsonians head coach Fergus Pringle said:  “We’re really looking forward to the challenge of taking on Stirling on Friday night in the final game of the Sprint season.

“Stirling have played some great rugby in the competition and their last-minute win against Ayr showed their never-say-die attitude. For us as a group, this competition has been about trying to get better each game collectively and individually and putting in the work to do that.

“Play-off games are about producing your best on the big occasion and our squad will turn up determined to do that.”

County have been pleasing on the eye this campaign and have also shown battling qualities in abundance to keep themselves in the mix for top spot right until this last weekend. They have had a fortnight to regroup since their last-gasp 27-26 win over the Bulls and have had to reshuffle the matchday 23 due to Scotland under-20 call-ups and the way the pro release has gone for them.

The backline sees Stevie Hamilton come in for outgoing Glasgow man Ratu Tagive on the right wing. Tagive’s Warriors team-mate Walter Fifita is on the left wing and DJ Innes return from injury to replace Ben Salmon at 13.

In the pack, John Mckenna starts at loosehead prop for the unavailable Lewis Skinner and George Breese starts at tighthead prop for Scotland tourist Murphy Walker.

On the bench, Cameron MacMillan, Hamish Ferguson and Mikey Gray return to the matchday squad, and Joe Halliday (Stirling Wolves) and Gary Strain (Glasgow Hawks) provide emergency cover at hooker and prop respectively.

“Whilst we know Watsonians will go into the match as favourites, for both the win and the FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series title, we have given ourselves a chance and go into the match with the belief that we can beat the odds,” County head coach Ben Cairns said.

“Opportunities to win a top-flight title do not come around that often and the boys cannot wait to get out there and give it a proper crack.

“Watsonians are the form team in the league and deserve to be in the position they are in. With a great spine of leaders through their side, a good kicking game and a reliable set piece they are a very tough nut to crack.

“Our matches with them tend to go down to the wire. In the last four meetings the biggest win margin has been three points and the aggregate score is 99-99.

“We will obviously need a slightly bigger win margin this time around but with so much on the line it is set up to be a great spectacle for Super6 rugby.”

Watsonians (versus Stirling County at Meggetland, Friday @ 7.45pm): H Paterson; L MacPherson, M Currie, J Reynolds, A Guthrie; L Millar©, R Brand; H Courtney, C Davies, A Williams, L Ball, K van Niekerk, S Cecil, C Boyle, M Kunavula. Subs: E Young, S Grahamslaw, B Bratton, K Watt, K Main, M Scott, J Baggott, L Berg.

Stirling County:  L Trotter; S Hamilton, DJ Innes, R Southern, W Fifita; M Holden©, S Kennedy; J McKenna, A Fraser, G Breese, J Pow, A Sinclair, G Arnott, C Gordon©, B Grant. Subs: J Halliday, C MacMillan, G Strain, H Ferguson, C Cruikshank, H Russell, C Robertson, M Gray.

Referee: Hollie Davidson.

Key battle: Connor Boyle versus Connor Gordon.

Verdict: The availability of a number of players with Edinburgh experience will undoubtably help Watsonians, but this County side will throw everything at it and have shown a liking for causing upsets and securing late wins. As Ben Cairns alluded to, matches between these two clubs at this level are normally tight and this one will likely be for a large spell of proceedings, but the home side’s experience and strong bench should see them through to victory – and to the title. Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 462 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.

2 Comments

  1. What a change in the line ups from the start of the competition!
    Am I the only one who feels Watsonians line up is slightly outside the spirit of the sprint series?
    Early in the campaign there was a multitude of young players in the squads. Now they have all but disappeared. Admittedly there is a clash with a Scotland U20 training squad now, but are they all needed for that?
    As for pro involvement – I totally get involving fringe pro’s in the competition to lift standards and maintain their fitness, but the 2nd of these two objectives doesn’t apply now, as Edinburgh’s season is finished, and the pro’s can have their holidays, yet Watsonians call up Harrison Courtney and Connor Boyle for the first time this series, not to mention, Williams, Kunavula, Currie and Grahamslaw. I think their desperation to win a trophy as outweighed all other considerations 🙂

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    • Good point well made, and if I may I think a complimentary comment from Bryce is appropriate to be repeated. Bryce says: 7 JUNE 2022 AT 6:52 PM
      This may be slightly off centre, but how many full time pro players feature in Super6, how many off these feature several games & what is the ratio of Super6 v Pro side appearances?
      How can Super6 teams bring through new young SQ talent if, say, 20% of their players are f/t pro’s?
      Reasonable questions, and I still find the Super6 whether the Sprint version which looks exactly the same as the original to me, a somewhat ‘Ersatz’ and puzzling competition.

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