British & Irish Cup campaign closes for home-based Scots

This week will bring the last round of the British & Irish Cup pool stages. No home based Scottish side will be able to progress into the knockout stages, however, London Scottish sitting top of pool two are in a strong position to make the quarter final cut.

Ayr, having run Jersey close when they made the trip to the Channel Islands, will be looking to make the amends needed for a home victory tomorrow (18 January, 2pm). Having already taken the scalp of Ulster Ravens at Millbrae, Ayr have it in their sights to make Jersey the next notch on their belt.

Edinburgh Rugby's Stuart McInally will playing for Edinburgh Accies v Pontypridd

Ayr head coach, Peter Laverie, said: “Following last week’s epic performance against Cornish Pirates in difficult conditions, the players are desperate to get back into action and reverse the result from our opening encounter against Jersey.

“We'll be looking to get our game speed and intensity up right from the start. We have a robust pack and a quick backline who all like to play fluid rugby.

“We really want to put on a show for the faithful Millbrae support, to thank them for getting behind us throughout this campaign.”

Also at home, Stirling County take on Munster A at Bridgehaugh in a 2pm kick-off. Stirling have yet to record a win in the cross-border campaign, although have regularly fielded a young side who have flourished with the experience.

Stirling County head coach, Graeme Young, said: “We are excited about the prospect of playing Munster but know that we must have exceptional defence to compete.  In last Friday’s game against Plymouth, our youngsters defended phenomenally for 60 minutes yet unfortunately leaked four late tries.

“Despite not having won a game, the British and Irish Cup is a great development experience for the squad, which we hope will pay dividends for the club’s future. 

“Our goals this week will be to play for the full 80 minutes and to reduce Munster opportunities by using our line speed in defence making our tackles as individuals. If we are to compete, we will need to be accurate as any mistakes are likely to be punished.”

Edinburgh Accies make the tough trip south to play Welsh side, Pontypridd, at Sardis Road (2pm).  Gala, also head to Wales taking on Aberavon, at Talbot Athletic Ground (2pm). Both Scottish teams will be seeking out their first win in the competition.

A home win for London Scottish against city rivals London Welsh, would take them into the knockout stages of the Cup. In any incidence, two league points would see London Scottish win the pool and progress to the latter stages of the competition. The match will go ahead subject to a pitch inspection at Richmond Athletic Ground at 10am ahead of the scheduled 2pm kick-off. 

Ayr v Jersey, Millbrae, Saturday 18 January, 2pm

Ayr team: Grant Anderson; Danny McLuskey, Mark Bennett, Dean Kelbrick (captain), Robbie Fergusson; Finn Russell, Peter Jericevich; Gordon Reid, James Malcolm, George Hunter, Callum Templeton, Scott Sutherland, Graham Fisken, Fraser Brown and Peter McCallum.

Replacements: Fergus Scott, Nick Cox, D’arcy Rae, Andrew Dunlop, Andrew Redmayne, Murray McConnell and Craig Gossman.

Stirling County v Munster A, Bridgehaugh, Saturday 18 January,2pm

Striling County team: Ben Addison; Graham Lindsay, Danny Gilmour, Brian Archibald, Rory Hughes; Stuart Edwards, Sean Kennedy; Jamie Bhatti, Alex Moffat, Gary Mountford, Craig Deacons, Perry Parker, Dimitri Basilia, Shaun McDonald and Jamie Swanson.

Replacements: Reyner Kennedy, Kris Burney, Colin Hutton, Will Bordill, Euan Dewar, AJ McFarlane and Fraser Lyle.

Edinburgh Accies v Pontypridd, Sardis Road, Pontypridd, Saturday 18 January, 2pm

Edinburgh Accies team: Nyle Godsmark; Jamie Farndale, Ewen Campbell, Ruairidh Bonner, Sam Pecqueur; Alex Blair, Alex Black; Alex Allan, Stuart McInally, Lewis Niven, Robert McAlpine, Jamie McCarthy, Robin Snape, Hamish Watson and Greg Campbell (captain).

Replacements: Duncan Morrison, Michael Liness, Phil Cringle, Tom Stuart, Iain Berthinussen, Matt Coupar and Jamie Sole.

Gala v Aberavon, Talbot Athletic Ground, Port Talbot, Saturday 18 January, 2pm

Gala team: TBC

Replacements: TBC

London Scottish v London Welsh, Richmond Athletic Ground, Saturday 18 January, 2pm

London Scottish team: James Love; Peter Homan, Oli Grove, PJ Gidlow, Miles Mantella; Dan Newton, Robbie Shaw;  Mark Irish, Tom Dunn, Tom Francis, Alex Karonias, Dave Lyons, Ben Russell, Matt Everard, and  Mark Bright (captain).
Replacements: Adam Kwasnicki, Eric Fry, Lewis Thiede, Paul Spivey, Jordi Pasqualin, Lee Millar and Jim Thompson.