Wat­so­ni­ans seek to raise their game in bat­tle with the Bulls

Evening Times - - SPORT - Stu­art Bath­gate

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.

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