WATSONIANS and Ayrshire Bulls have had some cracking clashes since Super6 came into being back in 2019 – and Saturday’s meeting at Myreside looks set to be another close affair.
Both sides recorded bonus-point victories in week one of the FOSROC Super6 Championship for 2022 last time out, and both have picked up silverware in recent times. The Bulls won the Championship in 2021 while Watsonians were crowned Sprint Series champions just before the summer.
For this one, Watsonians head coach Fergus Pringle has made six changes to the starting XV that saw off the Southern Knights at The Greenyards last Saturday. Up front, hooker Cal Davies, tighthead prop Gregor Scougall, second-row Kwagga van Niekerk and No 8 Iain Moody replace Campbell Wilson, Cole Lamberton, Jamie Berrisford and Neil Irvine-Hess. Wilson and Irvine-Hess are among the replacements.
Behind the scrum, Lee Millar replaces Jason Baggott at stand-off and takes over the captaincy duties from back-row Seb Cecil, while Edinburgh Rugby Academy player Harry Paterson gets the nod over Dom Coetzer at full-back. Baggott and Coetzer are on the bench where they are joined by exciting young scrum-half Brodie Young.
“It’s great to be back at Myreside for our game against the Ayrshire Bulls,” Watsonians head coach Fergus Pringle said. “We had two really tough games against them down at Millbrae in the Sprint Series, which were really close. We know the challenges they will pose on Saturday and we’ll really have to be on our game against a quality team.
“Our focus is on how we can keep moving forward as a group and we are always challenging ourselves to be better in all areas of our game.”
Aaron Tait is handed a start for the visitors on the wing, meaning that Jamie Shedden switches to 13 and Thomas Glendinning drops down to the bench. The rest of the backline is the same as the one that saw off Heriot’s Rugby last Friday.
The Bulls have swapped front rows from week one – as they did for the second half at home to Heriot’s last week. Andrew Nimmo, James Malcolm and Michael Scott now start, while William Farquhar, Alex McGuire and Calvin Henderson will look to make an impact off the bench.
Lewis McNamara replaces Gavin Wilson at number seven and Tim Brown (after an enforced Scotland Under-20s break) and Cam Jones (after injury) earn places on the bench.
“Watsonians away is always a big fixture in the calendar and one the players look forward to,” Bulls head coach Pat McArthur said. “They are in good form after winning the Sprint Series and they have some big forwards and exciting backs, so we will have to be ready for the challenge that lies ahead.
“The players have trained well this week and know the performance levels that will be required.”
Watsonians (versus Ayrshire Bulls at Myreside, Saturday 2pm): H Paterson; L MacPherson, L Berg, C Eastgate, A Guthrie; L Millar©, M Scott; H Courtney, C Davies, G Scougall, L Ball, K van Niekerk, S Cecil, K Main, I Moody. Substitutes: C Wilson, B Bratton, R Deans, K Watt, N Irvine-Hess, B Young, J Baggott, D Coetzer.
Ayrshire Bulls: Liam McNamara; A Tait, J Shedden, R Beattie, E Caven; W Hunt, J Lenac; A Nimmo, J Malcolm, M Scott, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, A Smeaton, Lewis McNamara, B MacPherson©. Substitutes: A McGuire, W Farquhar, C Henderson, G Wilson, T Brown, C Jones, R Simpson, T Glendinning.
Referee: Finlay Brown.
Key battle: Lewis Berg versus Jamie Shedden.
Verdict: This really is a tough one to call. Both sides showed glimpses in week one of why many expect them to be up near the top of the table and challenging for the title in the coming months, with both squads also knowing they can still sharpen up with more game time under their belts. Watsonians secured two tight away wins at Millbrae back in May and June during the Sprint Series and the Bulls will be out for revenge. However, home advantage may just see Watsonians over the line. Home win.