THE name has changed but the fierce competitiveness is the same. Stirling County were in with a chance of winning the Super6 Sprint Series right up until the final play of the final game earlier this year. Rebranded as the Wolves for the Super6 Championship, the Bridgehaugh side look well placed to be one of the main challengers for the Ayrshire Bulls’ crown.
Although in the end they were undone by Watsonians in that final Sprint fixture, Stirling had stayed in contention up to that point thanks to two home wins – a hard-fought, 27-26 result over the Bulls and a commanding 45-27 victory against Heriot’s. But they were not invincible at Bridgehaugh, as tomorrow’s visitors Boroughmuir Bears showed back in May, when they won 26-25 in one of the most memorable matches in the competition.
Given that result, it is no surprise that Wolves full-back Marcus Holden expects his team will face a demanding afternoon. “We’ll find out in the first few games where we’re at,” he said. “We’ve got a very tough first fixture against the Bears, who beat us last time out at Bridgehaugh.
“We really have to be clinical in certain areas. We can’t take anything for granted. I think Boroughmuir will be a great test. It’s exciting and something to look forward to.
“The team has matured, to be honest. We know we can win games by close margins. We have more belief in ourselves now.”
While Bears head coach Graham Shiel can use that win three months ago to inspire his players, he is well aware of how difficult it will be to come away with another win. “It’s a tough start,” the former Scotland international said.
“Last year we were away to Ayr in our first game and it doesn’t get any easier when you go to Bridgehaugh. We competed well there last year and just outplayed Stirling, but it was close.
“It’s a tough opener. Stirling are arguably the in-form team – I thought they were outstanding in the Sprint in the way they played and approached the games.”
Stirling Wolves (v Boroughmuir Bulls at Bridgehaugh, tomorrow [Saturday] 2pm: M Holden (co-captain); S Hamilton, R Southern, C Jardine, F Callaghan; C Beckett, G Christie; J McKenna, R Tanner, L Skinner, J Pow, H Ferguson, G Arnott, C Gordon (co-captain), B Grant. Substitutes: G Hiddleston, C MacMillan, G Breese, H McLeod, C Cruckshank, E Cunningham, A Thom, L Jarvis.
Boroughmuir Bears: T Brown; C Ramm, R Kerr, S Robeson, J Jenkins; J Bergin, R Swan; C Smith, C Tait, M McGinley, J Fisher, C Atkinson, C Keddie (captain), S McGinley, T Andrews. Substitutes: F Duraj, B Sweet, M Goodwin, L Alessandri, J King, T Lanni, A Scott, P Bogie.