BLAIR MACPHERSON started in the second-row for Ayr against Melrose but spent most of the match at number eight after the early departure of Pete McCallum with a shoulder injury, so this week we making an exception to our self-imposed rule of only selecting players in the position they are named in on the team-sheet by putting him at the base of the scrum.
He is joined in the pack by two fellow Ayr players in Steven Longwell at tight-head prop and Robbie Smith – who improves with every game and is destined to be a key man in the Scotland Under-20 set-up this season – at hooker. Ross Graham off Watsonians made a strong case for the number two jersey, but misses out on this occasion.
Ayr could, in fact, easily have had five forwards in the side. Robin Hislop at loose-head prop and Rob McAlpine in the second-row are both exceptionally unlucky to miss out, but it must be recognised that Shawn Muir and Dalton Redpath played huge roles in Hawick’s victory over Heriot’s, which lifted the Borderers off the foot of the table for the first time since the end of September.
Another Hawick player in Guy Graham was also in the mix, but misses out at blindside flanker on this occasion to Michael Fedo of Watsonians; while Thomas Gordon was a standout performer for Currie Chieftains and an easy selection at openside.
Behind the scrum, the outstanding David Armstrong – in his first game back since breaking his arm in training in mid-September – links up with Ayr team-mate Scott Lyle to control operations at half-back.
Robbie Nelson of Chieftains – one of the most consistently excellent players in the league – is at inside centre; and Michael Allen’s eye for a gap and ability to raise the tempo whilst playing for Watsonians earns him the outside centre slot.
Edinburgh pro Jason Harries’ three tries for Watsnonians gets him the number 11 jersey; and there is another pro in Max McFarland (recently recruited on a dual Glasgow Warriors/Scotland 7s contract) on the opposite wing – he is selected just ahead of Gary Munro of Hawick, who continues to impress and score tries despite playing in an unfamiliar position (he came through the ranks at Jed-Forest as a scrum-half). Mark Bertram of Watsonians also had a case for selection after scoring a brace of tries.
Darcy Graham’s last gasp score which secured that important victory for Hawick over Heriot’s edges him ahead of Ben Robbins of the Chieftains at full-back.
15. Darcy Graham (Hawick)
14. Max McFarland (Currie Chieftains)
13. Michael Allen (Watsonians)
12. Robbie Nelson (Currie Chieftains)
11. Jason Harries (Watsonians)
10. Scott Lyle (Ayr)
9. David Armstrong (Ayr)
1. Shawn Muir (Hawick)
2. Robbie Smith (Ayr)
3. Steven Longwell (Ayr)
4. Craig Borthwick (Watsonians)
5. Dalton Redpath (Hawick)
6. Michael Fedo (Watsonians)
7. Thomas Gordon (Currie Chieftains)
8. Blair MacPherson (Ayr)