SOUTHERN Knights head coach Bruce Ruthven is in a defiantly optimistic mood ahead of Friday's Super6 match against Boroughmuir Bears, despite being without 13 players due to injury. 

The Melrose-based side had several players on the treatment table before the campaign began, and then lost considerably more in last week’s 36-12 defeat by Watsonians, including Ruaridh Knott, who broke an ankle, and Callum Grieve, who dislocated a knee. But influential back-row forward Harry Borthwick is back from injury, and Ruthven expects his reshaped squad to acquit themselves well.

“It’s been a tough week, but we feel that the players coming in have trained well and are up for the challenge,” the coach said. “We are confident that if we play to our potential and are consistent in our approach over the full game we can get a positive result.  

“All the players are keen to get going on Friday night and prove that they can put in a performance which they can be proud of. As a management team we know what these players are capable of and believe there is a very good performance in this group of young players.”

The Bears’ confidence is high after they opened their account with a 27-10 win away to Stirling Wolves, and unsurprisingly head coach Graham Shiel has made minimal adjustments to his squad. “We were pleased with our performance last week - especially the second half - and to get a win on the road to open the 2022 Championship was a big boost,” he said.

 “But there is also an appreciation within the squad that we must continue to improve. The Southern Knights will provide a great challenge for us. This week it is about becoming more accurate individually and collectively in our execution of our game and working hard to stretch the Knights whenever possible.”

The Wolves are at home again tomorrow[Sat], against Heriot’s, who went down to a 33-17 defeat to the Ayrshire Bulls last week. The Edinburgh team began well enough at Millbrae and were in contention at half-time, but failed to score after the break as the champions gradually gained control of the contest.

The Bulls visit Sprint Series winners Watsonians tomorrow in what should be the key game of the weekend. Watsonians have now won ten games in a row from the end of last season and will further burnish their already bright title credentials if they get the better of their big rivals.