BOROUGHMUIR BEARS head to Millbrae to take on Ayrshire Bulls on Saturday looking to keep their unbeaten start to the FOSROC Super6 Championship going.
To date the Meggetland men have won on the road at Stirling Wolves and the Southern Knights, but they know this away day against the 2021 champions will really show where they are at in terms of being potential title challengers or not.
The Bears have made three changes to their starting XV for this one. Brandon Sweet and Martin McGinley rotate in for props Callum Smith and Murray Goodwin while Adam Scott gets the nod at full-back ahead of Tom Brown. Smith, Goodwin and Brown are all on the bench which includes Calum Anderson who has joined from Boroughmuir on an emergency loan.
“A familiar routine for us as we hit the road for the third week in a row to play away from Meggetland,” Bears head coach Graham Shiel said.
“We are delighted to have had successful outcomes in our previous two games, but we also acknowledge that we are a long way off where we would like to be operating and this weekend will test our metal to the full away to Ayrshire Bulls.
“Squad availability has been particularly tight for the beginning of the season, so that has made the results even more pleasing. We are looking forward to welcoming players back in the next month or so to provide some much needed reinforcement
“Millbrae is a tough place to visit, we will be under pressure from the off and only our very best performance will stand us any chance of challenging the Bulls.
“The Bulls are a force to deal with, but it is a great challenge for the Bears to travel to Ayr as we look to compete and put ourselves under the spotlight to find ways to improve our performance and try to stress them wherever possible.
“Nothing changes for the Bears this week, but it is about becoming more accurate individually and collectively in the execution of our game.
“The Bulls are a very physical outfit, so we need to receive the challenge and match the physicality to give ourselves a chance of staying in the game for as long as possible.”
Ayrshire Bulls were frustrated to come away from Myreside with nothing last weekend having led Watsonians 13-3 at the break. They did win on home turf in week one against Heriot’s though and head coach Pat MacArthur has made two changes to the starting XV for their return to Millbrae.
Scotland under-20 cap Tim Brown starts at number seven in place of Lewis McNamara who is unavailable and stand-off Richie Simpson, who did well off the bench last week, gets a first start. Will Hunt drops to the bench to back Simpson up while forwards Jamie Drummond and Ewan Hamilton-Bulger are added to the list of replacements.
“It was not the result we wanted last week, but a number of aspects of our game were pleasing, we just need to be more ruthless and take our opportunities,” MacArthur said.
“On Saturday we welcome Boroughmuir to Millbrae and they are on a high with two wins from two and they have a number of threats across their line-up. We will need to be at our best both physically and mentally to get a result this weekend.”
Ayrshire Bulls (versus Boroughmuir Bears @ Millbrae, Saturday 2pm): Liam McNamara; A Tait, J Shedden, R Beattie, E Caven; R Simpson, J Lenac; A Nimmo, J Malcolm, M Scott, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, A Smeaton, T Brown, B MacPherson©. Substitutes: J Drummond, W Farquhar, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, G Wilson, W Hunt, C Jones, T Glendinning.
Boroughmuir Bears: A Scott; C Ramm, R Kerr, T Lanni, J Jenkins; J Bergin, R Swan; B Sweet, C Tait, M McGinley, J Fisher, C Atkinson, J King, T Andrews, C Keddie©. Substitutes: J Blyth Lafferty, C Smith, M Goodwin, I Carmichael, P Bogie, M Johnstone, C Anderson, T Brown.
Referee: Jonny Perriam.
Key battle: Blair MacPherson versus Craig Keddie.
Verdict: This should be a cracking contest with the Bulls having played well for 120 out of 160 minutes so far this term and the Bears for the full 160 minutes. The way things changed around in the second half against Watsonians will have hurt the Bulls while the Bears are building nicely. Both sides have dogged, ball-carrying leaders from No 8 in the shape of Blair MacPherson and Craig Keddie while it’s a big day for the home stand-off Richie Simpson. Home advantage should see the Bulls back to winning ways.