3rd v 4th Final; Preview
Tomorrow evening, the third and fourth places in the 2021 FOSROC Super6 will be decided at Myreside under the last Friday night lights of the season.
The fixture between Watsonians Rugby and Stirling County will be broadcast live on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Scotland website and the Scottish Rugby website with commentary from Paul Mitchell and John Dalziel.
Watsonians Rugby secured themselves home advantage in this fixture in the first half of a convincing win over finalists Ayrshire Bulls last Sunday afternoon.
The city side started their campaign well with a win on the road to the Bulls, a three-point win over tomorrow night’s opponents, Stirling County, and a further victory over neighbours Boroughmuir in round three.
After the second round of fixtures, they lost stand-off and captain Lee Millar to an elbow injury which ruled him out for the rest of the league season but were able to bring in Joe Reynolds, who had a memorable 2019 campaign and an who represents an experienced replacement.
Watsonians suffered a dip in form away to Heriot’s at Goldenacre but regained their winning ways against top-of-the-table Southern Knights at home under Friday night lights in late August.
When they hosted Heriot’s after the mid-season break, they were unlucky to lose by only one point as the visitors sealed victory with the last play of the game.
The Myreside outfit made chances of reaching the final hard for themselves in rounds seven, eight and nine as they recorded three losses on the bounce to Southern Knights, Stirling County and Boroughmuir Bears.
They bounced back to form, however, convincingly beating finalists Ayrshire Bulls in the last round of the regular season with Sam Daly, Scott King, Ru Smith, Harvey Elms, Karl Main, Matt Currie and Ben Muncaster all crossing the whitewash.
Throughout the season the impressive stature of number 8 Sam Daly has shown his prowess. The back row player has made 415 metres and sits only behind Boroughmuir Bears winger Jordan Edmunds in those rankings (469m).
Winger Harvey Elms has shown what he can do in open space too, the sevens specialist making 307metres, as well as eight-line breaks from nine appearances, displaying how he has been able to transfer his sevens skill set into the XVs game.
FOSROC Scottish Rugby Contracted Academy centre Matt Currie only returned from injury last week to make a start for Wastonians, with his FOSROC Player of the Match performance so impressive that Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend named him as part of his Autumn Nations Series training squad on Wednesday.
Visitors Stirling County started off their season with a 24-24 draw at home to Southern Knights, which was coincidently the exact same score as that fixture in the first FOSROC Super6 season.
County were unlucky to lose their next two games by a total of only four points, on the road to Watsonians and then by a single point when they hosted Heriot’s Rugby in round three.
The Bridgehaugh outfit recorded their first win of the season in the next round when Craig Robertson slotted a long-range penalty in the last play of the game to overcome finalists Ayrshire Bulls in a dramatic finish.
They dipped in from mid-way through the season, recording losses on the road to Boroughmuir Bears and Ayrshire Bulls.
Ben Cairns' men then found their feet again with three wins on the trot at home to Boroughmuir Bears and Watsonians, as well as on the road to Heriot’s Rugby.
Stirling County have showed some lovely attacking flair this season, never more so than in their round eight fixture against Watsonians where they scored five tries in the first half alone.
Had their defensive record been better, and they had found their form earlier in the season, they perhaps would have been in the mix for a spot in the 1st v 2nd final on Sunday.
With 11 turnovers from five appearances, back-row Dean Taylor-Menzies has been one of the top performers in the league. Alongside his back-row team-mate, George Arnott, the pair have forged a formidable partnership across the back of the scrum with Arnott completing 90.6% of his tackles this season.
Grant Hughes has also impressed throughout 2021, the centre playing in all but one game, with 18 tackle breaks and a couple of tries scored along the way.
When you look at the Stirling County backs, one name keeps re-appearing: Tom Roche. The flying winger sits second in the top try-scoring table on seven (behind Ayrshire Bulls' Blair Macpherson on eight).
Watsonians Head Coach Fergus Pringle has stayed true to his back line who produced four of their seven tries last weekend. In the pack, he has made three changes as Harrison Courtney, Kieran Watt and Campbell Wilson come into the starting line-up.
On tomorrow evening's fixture, he said: "We’re really looking forward to Friday night’s game at Myreside against Stirling and the challenge is to back up a strong performance against Ayr and finish the season on a high"
Stirling County Head Coach Ben Cairns has selected a squad based on players who have played consistently well throughout the season. He said: "The backline sees Caleb Korteweg come back in at scrum-half, Grant Hughes shift to inside centre and and Craig Robertson returns at full-back. In the pack, Max Williamson is ruled out so Byron Bowes starts.
"Last week's encounter at The Greenyards was one to forget for us. We actually started the match fairly well and played some decent rugby at times but were taught a lesson in game management and ultimately played most of the match in our own half.
"Watsonians will be delighted with how they went last week against the Bulls to secure the home tie this weekend. The teams know each other very well and both encounters have gone down to the wire. We would have loved to have been at home for our final match of the season however, Myreside under the Friday night lights isn’t a bad place to go play some rugby."
Match Officials: Referee Ian Kenny, AR1 Michael Todd, AR2 Jonny Perriam, No4 Kevin McGhee and Timekeeper Graeme Eastland
Previous FOSROC Super6 encounters:
Sunday 24 November 2019 Watsonians Rugby 34-22 Stirling County
Saturday 25 January 2020 Stirling County 27-24 Watsonians Rugby
Friday 5 August 2021 Watsonians 10 – 7 Stirling County
Sunday 26 October 2021 Stirling County 41 – 39 Stirling County
Season form guide:
Watsonians Rugby: W W W L W L L W L W
Stirling County: D L L W L L W W W L
Watsonians: 15. Dom Coetzer 14. Harvey Elms 13. Matt Currie 12. Scott King 11. Ru Smith 10. Joe Reynolds 9. Reiss Cullen 1. Harrison Courtney 2. Cal Davies 3. Angus Williams CAPTAIN 4. Kieran Watt 5. Michael Badenhorst 6. Ben Muncaster 7. Campbell Wilson 8. Sam Daly
Replacements: 16. Ross Graham 17. Sam Grahamslaw 18. Nathan Borel 19. Kwagga Van Niekerk 20. Karl Main 21. Roan Frostwick 22. Marc Morrison 23. Angus Hoffie
Stirling County: 15. Craig Robertson 14. Steven Hamilton 13. Archie Russell 12. Grant Hughes 11. Tom Roche 10. Andrew Goudie 9. Caleb Korteweg 1. Adam Wood 2. Reyner Kennedy CAPTAIN 3. Lewis Skinner 4. James Pow 5. Byron Bowes 6. George Arnott 7. Connor Gordon 8. Dean Taylor-Menzies
Replacements: 16. Angus Fraser 17. George Breese 18. JP Phelan 19. Josh King 20. Callum Cruickshank 21. Marcus Holden 22. Craig Jardine 23. Landon Hayes