Super6: Stirling Wolves and Southern Knights set to do battle in search of first win

After losing their opening two fixtures, both teams are desperate for a victory as they prepare to meet at Bridgehaugh

George Arnott
Stirling's George Arnott bids to secure lineout ball in last season's Super6 match against the Southern Knights. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

STIRLING Wolves will be hoping it is third time lucky at Bridgehaugh in the FOSROC Super6 Championship on Friday evening when they host the other winless side in the tournament, Southern Knights.

The Wolves were handed a good run of home games to start the 2022 campaign, but have so far lost to the Boroughmuir Bears and Heriot’s in their own back yard.

For this sixth-versus-fifth clash that starts off week three of the competition, home head coach Ben Cairns is able to call upon key ball-carrier George Arnott again after he missed the Heriot’s match last Saturday through injury. Arnott replaces the ill Callum Cruikshank at number six, with the rest of the starting pack unchanged.


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After scoring a try off the bench last time out against Heriot’s, Logan Jarvie is handed a start on the wing for the Wolves, while Keir Singleton comes into the squad and starts at scrum-half. Singleton has joined the Wolves on an emergency loan from Stirling County, having come through the youth ranks at the club.

Stevie Hamilton and Gregor Christie are both injured. Replacement prop John McKenna also got injured last weekend, so Hartpury & Gloucester academy prospect James Lascelles comes onto the bench as emergency cover, the move having been accommodated by Heriot’s Blues, where he is on loan for the season.

There is also a welcome return on the bench for Craig Robertson, who missed the Sprint Series with a hip injury, while former Scotland Under-20 back-row Jack Hill could debut in the number 20 shirt, having finished a placement in London.

“We are going through a tough patch not helped by injuries and unavailability,” Cairns said. “This has made consistency very hard to come by, and whilst some of these factors are outwith our control, we have spent the week identifying the key areas within our control that will make the biggest difference to our game.

“After two losses from two matches, the Knights will come to Bridgehaugh desperate to pick up their first win of the season too, and will fancy their chances based on our performances to date. They have some seasoned campaigners who have previously been used to winning along with some exciting young talent, and whilst they have struggled so far this season we are under no illusions regarding their potential.

“With both sides struggling for form, the start of the match is going to be crucial. The side who builds momentum and can get on top early will put themselves in a good position to take the win while a poor start could be the final blow to two teams struggling for confidence.

“Playing under the Friday-night lights usually brings the best out of our young squad and with a big, vocal support we hope we can finally get our Championship season up and running.”

 

The Knights are on the road for the first time this campaign, having lost out at home to Watsonians and the Bears. Up front for them, Jordan Miller gets his first start in the number six jersey with Sam Derrick shifting to seven and Wallace Nelson making do with a spot on the bench.

Corey Bowker and Russell Anderson rotate in for Grant Shiells and Fraser Renwick in the front-row. Hooker Anderson takes up the captaincy duties.

In the backs, Robbie Chalmers returns at 12, so Edinburgh Rugby Academy player Cammy Scott shifts to 10 and emergency loanee from Melrose Struan Hutchison is on the bench. Due to high injury levels there are only four forwards on the bench with Eoin Harrison, an exciting prospect from Northumbria University, having been brought in on an emergency loan.

“It’s going to be a good contest on Friday with both teams looking to get off the mark in the Championship which will make the game an even greater challenge for us,” Knights head coach Bruce Ruthven said.

“We will have to be more accurate this week and take the learnings from the previous two games if we are going to be competitive for the full 80 minutes. However, we have prepared well and despite a few changes we know that we have a squad capable of winning up at Stirling.

“Stirling have shown that they have the players to dismantle any defence, are well organised and have a strong work ethic, so we’re expecting a really tough and close encounter.”

 

Stirling Wolves (versus Southern Knights @ Bridgehaugh, Friday 7.45pm): L Trotter; L Jarvie, A Thom, M Holden©, C Jardine; E Cunningham, K Singleton; C MacMillan, G Hiddleston, L Skinner, J Pow, H Ferguson, G Arnott, C Gordon©, B Grant. Substitutes: R Tanner, J Lascelles, G Breese, H McLeod, J Hill, S MacDonald, C Beckett, C Robertson.

Southern Knights: D Colvine; A Cross, P Anderson, R Chalmers, B Wara; C Scott, D Crawford; C Bowker, R Anderson©, I Brace, J Campbell, A Ferrie, J Miller, S Derrick, H Borthwick. Substitutes: F Renwick, G Shiells, E Harrison, W Nelson, S Hutchison, K Clark, B Pickles, K McGhie.

Referee: David Sutherland.

 

Key battle: Keir Singleton versus Douglas Crawford.

Verdict: Given the start to the season these two sides have had and the long injury lists at both Bridgehaugh and The Greenyards, this may not be one for the purists. Both teams need a win – and quickly – to boost morale, and clean ball for the inexperienced scrum-halves at this level on both teams will be key. How Keir Singleton and Douglas Crawford use that ball will then also be important. The Knights looked much better in week two than in week one, but home advantage and a desperation to get a positive result may just get County over the line.

Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 457 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.