ADAM HASTINGS started at full-back for Currie Chieftains against Melrose and switched to stand-off at half-time, showing what an exciting talent he can be in both positions. He has a huge boot, an eye for a gap and an all-round fearlessness in his approach to the game which is captivating. He chipped in on Saturday with two very well taken tries, ploughing through at least four tacklers on his way to the second of those scores.
Jamie Forbes, his partner in crime in that match – making the reverse switch from 10 to 15 at the break – was also a serious contender for selection, but Rory Hutton’s two tries and classy all-round display for Watsonians bags him the stand-off berth.
Robbie Nelson put in a huge shift in he Chieftains midfield, and is selected at inside centre alongside Scott Lyle of Ayr – who scored 20 of his team’s 25 points in their victory at Stirling County in two tries, two conversions and two penalties – and was a controlling influence for the visitors, especially in the first half when there was a real danger of the game getting away from them.
Lyle was selected at stand-off in the team-of-the-week last week but was deployed at outside centre this week, edging out Ronan Kerr of Boroughmuir.
There wasn’t a whole lot of opportunities for wingers to shine on Saturday but the statistics indicate that Jordan Edmunds of Boroughmuir worked hard to get himself into a game that was never likely to be suited to him, and on a day when Peter Wright really needed his big players to show their commitment to the cause he stood up and delivered. John Rae’s well taken try for Heriot’s gets him in on the other touchline.
Charlie Shiel’s role in maintaining Chieftains’ tempo in a breathless contest merits selection at scrum-half, while Tim Wilson of Heriot’s and Paddy Boyer of Hawks also made strong claims for selection.
The Chieftains scrum was in all sorts of bother early on against Melrose but recovered magnificently, with Ben Cairns – or perhaps it was his brother Mark – rotating the front-row options expertly to get the most out of the players. Tight-head AP McWilliam was on the field at the start and at the end, and battled through 63 minutes in between times. While he didn’t have it all his own way, his resilience was emblematic of his team’s performance. Greame Carson who flitted between hooker and loose-head also deserves great credit.
Steven Longwell put in another good performance for Ayr in the number three jersey, but it won’t do him any harm to take a rare week off from the dream team!
Ross Graham of Watsonians, is another player who always seems to be there or thereabouts when the nominations come in for selection, and he makes the cut at hooker this week; alongside another consistent performer in Shawn Muir of Hawick at loose-head.
Archie Erskine who is playing in the second-row at the moment but showed some of his back-row athleticism when scoring two tries for Boroughmuir in their vital away win at Marr. The former Newcastle Falcons Academy and current Scotland Under-20 squad member also showed a bit of pluck when getting involved in a grapple with Oli Kebble, Glasgow Warriors’ giant South African prop, which led to both players being sent to the sin-bin, after which Boroughmuir enjoyed their first spell of set-piece parity of the afternoon.
But he misses out to his Boroughmuir team-mate Jamie Ure, a dogged competitor who played a crucial role in the lead up to Erskine’s crucial first try, by making a tackle then bouncing straight back to his feet and charging down a clearance kick for his team-mate to pounce on.
Watsonians captain Craig Borthwick retains the number five jersey after another commanding performance.
Thomas Gordon is at open-side flanker after putting in another huge shift for the Chieftains; Hamilton Burr also worked his socks off and opened the scoring with a charged down try in a losing cause for Stirling County so gets in at blind-side flanker; and 23 carries – more than any other player in the league – earns Bruce McNeil of Hawick the number eight jersey.
15. Adam Hastings (Currie Chieftains)
14. John Rae (Heriot’s)
13. Scott Lyle (Ayr)
12. Robbie Nelson (Currie Chieftains)
11. Jordan Edmunds (Boroughmuir)
10. Rory Hutton (Watsonians)
9. Charlie Shiel (Currie Chieftains)
1. Shawn Muir (Hawick)
2. Ross Graham (Watsonians)
3. AP McWilliam (Currie Chieftains)
4. Jamie Ure (Boroughmuir)
5. Craig Borthwick (Watsonians)
6. Hamilton Burr (Stirling County)
7. Thomas Gordon (Currie Chieftains)
8. Bruce McNeil (Hawick)