Six players to watch in BT Premiership Grand Final

Image courtesy: George McMillan/Ayr RFC

by STUART RUTHERFORD

 

Frazier Climo – Ayr

Image: Fotosport / David Gibson

The former Taranaki star has, once again, been pivotal to Ayr’s success this season, and has shown that he is more than capable of turning a game with the flick of a switch. The 30-year-old is not only a fantastic playmaker, but an astute tactician, and with 128 points to his name he picked up this season’s golden boot. When you consider that the last two play-off finals were decided by four points or less, goal-kicking could prove to be crucial this weekend.

 

Grant Runcimen – Melrose

Image courtesy: Douglas Hardie
The Melrose captain might not be the flashiest player on the park, but his work at the breakdown and willingness to take on slow ball in heavy traffic has been central to his team’s success this season. A warrior in defence, the open-side will readily lay his body on the line for the cause; whilst he has also shown an ability to pop up with crucial scores, as his late match winner at Goldenacre earlier in the season demonstrated.

Robert McAlpine – Ayr

Image: Craig Watson / www.craigwatson.co.uk

At 6ft 7inches and 18 stone, the former Glasgow Warrior is an intimidating enough sight for any opponent, however, his abilities lie far beyond his formidable appearance. As the workhorse at the centre of Ayr’s pack, the 26-year-old is integral to the Millbrae outfit’s punishing style of play, whilst his height offers a significant target at the line-out. After crossing the whitewash against semi-final opponents, Glasgow Hawks, the Scotland club international will undoubtedly be hoping to add to his tally come Saturday afternoon.

Ruaridh Knott – Melrose

Image: Craig Watson / www.craigwatson.co.uk

The flash boys out back will be looking to grab the headlines, but Saturday’s clash will be decided in the trenches, and Knott is just the sort of soldier you can rely on to lead the charge. The Highland product has been a stalwart in Melrose’s impressive front-eight this season, slotting in right across the back-row as well as in the second-row when required. With try-scoring opportunities likely to be at a premium against Ayr’s stout defence, Knott’s nose for the whitewash could prove to be worth it’s weight in gold. With a score against Currie in the semi-final, the second-row took his tally on the season to a remarkable 10 tries.

 

Pete McCallum – Ayr

Image: David Gibson/Fotosport

Finals are undoubtedly a time for leaders to make their presence felt, and Ayr have one of the outstanding skippers in the league at their disposal. After getting over a knee injury which disrupted a large section of the season, the Scotland Club XV captain has wasted no time in regaining the form which won him last season’s BT Premiership player-of-the-year gong. And whilst his try count is down from last season, the number eight has still managed to get over the line an impressive nine times. After conceding a penalty try and receiving a yellow-card in last season’s final, McCallum will be looking to make amends in a big way.

 

Austin Lockington – Melrose

Image: Fotosport / David Gibson

Although he missed practically all of last season after suffering a ruptured ACL, the former Western Province Academy player has lost none of his sparkle, and he demonstrated why Rob Chrystie rates him so highly with a tremendous solo try in his team’s semi-final showdown against Currie. His eye for a gap was evident again when helping his team to the final of their own Sevens tournament last weekend, and Ayr will need to be on their toes whenever Lockington is on the prowl.

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Stuart Rutherford
About Stuart Rutherford 50 Articles
Stuart hails from the Borders town of Selkirk and has been around rugby all his life, largely thanks to the influence of his father, John. Not only a fan of the modern game, he is a keen rugby historian, and produces a regular 'Throwback Thursday Column' for The Offside Line.