Watsonians seek to raise their game in battle with the Bulls
SECOND plays first in Super6 this afternoon as Ayrshire Bulls try to inflict a first defeat of the fledgling season on Watsonians.
The Edinburgh side are four points clear of the Bulls after winning their first three games, but have looked vulnerable at times, having had to come back from a half-time deficit in each game.
“Our squad have shown real character on the road and we want to step up again after a mixed performance against Stirling,” said Watsonians head coach Fergus Pringle, whose team won away at the Southern Knights and Heriot’s before beating County at Myreside.
“We’ll need a quality performance to come out on top.”
Scrum-half Roan Frostwick and centre DJ Innes return to the visitors’ back division.
The Bulls have bounced back from an opening-day defeat by Heriot’s to win their last two games, and coach Peter Murchie admitted to finding it difficult to settle on a team after so many impressive performances in those outings.
“It’s been a tough selection this week as we have had to pick between different players who performed well in both the Boroughmuir Bears and Southern Knights games,” he said. “We were pleased to earn the five points on offer on the road, but know we can make many improvements.”
World Cup prop Gordon Reid starts at loosehead for the Bulls the day after signing a partnership agreement which will see him train with, and also play for, Glasgow when required, while Warriors winger Rory Hughes wears the No.11 jersey.
At Goldenacre, Heriot’s coach Phil Smith has picked a squad based on merit for the first time for the visit of Stirling County, having pre-selected his starting line-ups for the first three games to ensure that every squad member got a chance to impress.
“The messages this weekend are really simple: be more disciplined and lower our error count,” said Smith, who has Edinburgh’s Murray McCallum at tighthead.
After a late collapse against Watsonians, Stirling coach Ben Cairns has emphasised the need to play for 80 minutes.
“There’s been some tough learning after the way things fell apart last Sunday and we’ve had to learn quick with a six-day turnaround,” he said.
The final game in round four sees Boroughmuir Bears play the Southern Knights at Meggetland tomorrow. The Bears bench includes Johnny Matthews, whose short-term Glasgow contract has now been extended to the end of the season, and his Warriors teammate Jamie Dobie.
Edinburgh loosehead Jamie Bhatti starts for the Knights, who are the only team yet to win a match.
In the Premiership, Marr look like having a good chance to stretch their narrow lead at the top when they visit bottomof-the-table Musselburgh, but coach Craig Redpath is taking nothing for granted.
“They will be hoping to build on a good second-half performance against Hawick last week to put us under pressure,” he said. “We missed a few chances to score last week and our focus this week will be to ensure that we take our opportunities. If we don’t, Musselburgh will punish us.”
Currie Chieftains are just a point behind the Ayrshire side but face a tough trip to take on Selkirk, who have won their last two games and are now in the fourth and final play-off place. Currie had a big home win last week, beating GHA 40-6, but had to defend for long stretches of the game.
GHA have another difficult assignment at home to Hawick, who are up to third, ahead of Selkirk on points differential, after winning their last three games.
“We are definitely playing more as a team, but we need to stay in the game for the full 80 minutes and ensure that we do not become complacent if we get in front,” Hawick coach George Graham said. “If we want to make the play-offs this is a must-win.”
Glasgow Hawks visit Aberdeen Grammar, who slipped out of the top three after consecutive losses to Currie, Hawick and Marr, but returned to winning ways last week against Edinburgh Accies.
Finally, eighth plays ninth at Newfield, where Edinburgh Accies and Jed-Forest will both be desperate to claim a win and put some extra daylight between themselves and Musselburgh at the foot of the table.