WATSONIANS set out to blaze a trail through Scottish rugby this season as the pacesetters during the first eight round of the inaugural Super6 campaign – but they weren’t bargaining on the clubhouse going up in flames as well.
A fire ripped through the Myreside pavilion last Wednesday morning, causing significant damage it seems, meaning that the facility is likely to be out of use for the foreseeable future. Structural surveys are in the process of being carried out to determine the full extent of the remedial work required.
It will be from one extreme to another for the club tonight [Friday], as attention turns away from the fire which has blitzed their iconic club house towards to dealing with the expected snow and ice of Storm Dennis (hot on the heels of Storm Ciara), as they welcome their great Edinburgh rivals Heriot’s to Myreside for a top of the Super6 table clash [7.30pm kick-off].
Watsonians may have suffered a shock defeat in their last league outing away to Stirling County three weeks ago, but head coach Fergus Pringle has resisted the temptation to throw the baby out with the bathwater, making only two changes to the starting XV from that 27-24 loss.
Michael Badenhorst comes in for James Miller at openside flanker as a counter-measure against Heriots’ heavyweight pack, while Lomond MacPherson returns on the wing in place of Andrew Chalmers, who drops to the bench.
There is good news in the return of hooker Ross Graham after almost six months out with a shoulder injury, who is named amongst the replacements.
“This is the first Friday Night Lights fixture for us this season and it’s a game the whole club is looking forward to,” said Pringle. “We’ve had a couple of weeks off and there are some areas we have worked hard to improve from our game up at Stirling.
“We will need to be disciplined and bring more intensity and accuracy across the board against Heriot’s, who have been on good form. Both teams will be up for it which makes for an exciting Edinburgh derby.”
Heriot’s were 53-10 winners over Boroughmuir Bears in their last outing before the mini-break, which lifted them to equal points with Watsonians (although with a marginally inferior points differential), meaning they make the short trip across the city in fine fettle – and boosted by the release of Edinburgh centre Chris Dean, who is on the comeback trail from a pectoral injury, lining up in midfield alongside Cameron Hutchison, who has been one of the stars of Super6 do far this season.
The Goldenacre men are also boosted by the return of an influential absentee in the shape of tight-head prop Struan Cessford on the bench after recovering from a neck injury sustained at the start of December.
“Our last match versus Boroughmuir Bears seems a long time ago now, I hope we are able to take off where we left off that day,” said head coach Phil Smith. “That match was a real rise in performance, with lots of what we have been working on bearing fruit in a commanding all-round performance.
“Watsonians will undoubtedly bring different challenges, with strong defence and set-piece, two areas that we know we will need to be sharp to respond to. At the same time, we are hungry to get back to it on a floodlight, busy, Valentines evening at Myreside, with the chance to go top of the FOSROC Super6 for the first time this season.”
Watsonians (versus Heriot’s at Myreside, Friday, kick-off: 7.3opm): : Jamie Forbes; Lomond Macpherson, Lewis Berg, Joe Reynolds, Angus Guthrie; Lee Millar©, Murray Scott; Harrison Courtney, Cal Davies, Jack Stanley, Brian Leitch, Jamie Hodgson, Mesu Kunavula, Michael Badenhorst, Morgan Inness. Subs: Ross Graham, Sam Grahamslaw, Jonny Gibson, Harry Fisher, James Miller, Ali Harris, Andrew Chalmers, Ruaridh Smith.
Heriot’s: Ross Jones; James Couper, Chris Dean, Camerson Hutchison, James Spencer; Stuart Edwards, Andrew Simmers; Andrew Nimmo, Ali Johnstone, Josh Scott, Adam Sinclair, Charlie Jupp, Iain Wilson©, Jack McLean, Jason Hill. Subs: Finlay Scott, Martin Bouab, Struan Cessford, Ronan Seydak, Callum Marhsall, Dan Nutton, Ben Chalmers, Alex Ball.