AFTER last week’s try-fest for Super Series wingers, this week was somewhat barren for back-three players, with only two tries coming from the 18 players who occupied those positions. They both came from full-backs with Donald Crawford finishing a magnificent move for the Knights, and his opposite number Dan King juggling the ball successfully over the line to pull Heriot’s level at half time. Crawford’s early yellow-card means King clinches the 15 jersey in our selection, while Fergus Watson deserves a mention for some bright moments in his first start in his preferred position for the Future XV.
On the wing, Aidan Cross impressed again with his work-rate for the Knights, but despite failing to score Freddie Owsley possibly had his best game of the season for Watsonians, so clinches one wing berth, while Mikey Heron of Stirling Wolves claims the other after a solid 60 minutes on his eighth successive start, which shows how far he has developed in his first full season of Super Series.
There were quite a few different midfield combinations this weekend and that may explain the general paucity of tries out wide, but it was good to see Duncan Munn beginning to hit the kind of form he demonstrated in previous seasons for Boroughmuir Bears with strong running that asked frequent questions of the Wolves defence, while Edinburgh’s Charlie Savala stepped into the playmaking role at 12 for Heriot’s effortlessly and showed his class on several occasions. Hamish Bentley scored a try that was a good reward for his work rate for Knights, and Ryan Southern scored another scintillating sidestepping effort for the Wolves, and both can consider themselves unfortunate to miss out on this occasion.
With the exception of Matthew Urwin who had his moments for the Future XV, it was a weekend for experienced 10s to shine. Veterans Ross Jones spotted and slipped through a gap for the equalising try for Heriot’s in the last act of the game at The Greenyards, and the similarly aged Craig Jackson showed all his worldliness with excellent game-management for Wolves, but for grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and forcing momentum towards the Knights on several occasions, Gregor McNeish claims the pivot position this week.
A face familiar at The Greenyards for many seasons, Murdo McAndrew, takes the scrum-half position, after putting his hand up impressively to be picked by Nikki Walker in this coming weekend’s semi-final line-up, holding off the twin threats of Ben Afshar and Kyle McGhie who sustained momentum for the Wolves throughout the 80 minutes at Meggetland.
Jack Dobie is a club player who has stepped up impressively this season and again showed powerful scrummaging technique for the Knights this week, while Marius Tamosaitis showed Stirling Wolves are always a better team with him locking the scrum at tight head. Between them there was a fierce battle for the No 2 jersey, between four players who might be rivals for the next 10 years. Duncan Hood, Gregor Hiddleston and Patrick Harrison all scored tries for their respective teams, while Corey Tait showed up well for the Bears but ultimately came off second best to Hiddleston who returned from Glasgow Warriors duty impressively. The Wolves/Warriors man will have his backers, but a try double just edges the selection for Edinburgh’s Harrison.
The Future XV showed the frustrating inconsistency of youth in their disappointing performance against Watsonians, and they would all do well to look at three of the most consistent players in Super Series who all turned up as usual at the weekend. Jamie Campbell has started every game for Heriot’s, Jack Fisher has a similar record for the Bears, and Allan Ferrie has missed just one game for the Knights. Each of that trio could have been selected in our TOW nearly every week as they are invariably produce 8/10 performances. Fisher’s all round performance propels him into our team this week, where he is joined by opposite number Tom Smith, who retains his place from last week, and must be putting pressure on first choice James Pow and Hamish Ferguson for the Eddie Pollock’s semi-final line up.
If hooker was a tightly contested position this week, the same can be said of openside flanker. Connor Gordon continued his fine form from last week, opposite number Kieran Westlake showed Ben-Earl-like jubilation after scoring the Bears’ only try, and Karl Main showed he is back to full fitness with a hugely combative display in defence and attack for Watsonians. But Corbin Thunder gains selection in our TOW for the fourth time this season, switching this time from hooker to openside-flanker with a man-of-the-match performance for Southern Knights.
On a quiet weekend for No 8s, Heriots’ Callum Anderson was the stand-out, while it was good to see Ollie Duncan returning from injury as a sub for the Future XV after missing their last six games, following an impressive start to the season.
Our selection is completed this week by Future XV number 6 Craig Nolan. The young Glasgow Hawk wasn’t even named in their squad prior to this series, but with lots of players unavailable at the start of the season he was called up and has subsequently appeared in every fixture, starting eight of them in three different positions in the pack. He carried well on Saturday again, tackles with impressive weight, and can do a fair impression of a decent 12 as well. His versatility will make him a favourite of many coaches going forward, but will it ultimately count against him in nailing down one position consistently well enough to progress to the next level?
15. Dan King (Heriot’s)
14. Mikey Heron (Stirling Wolves)
13. Duncan Munn (Boroughmuir Bears)
12. Charlie Savala (Heriot’s)
11. Freddie Owsley (Watsonians)
10. Gregor McNeish (Southern Knights)
9. Murdo McAndrew (Watsonians)
1. Jack Dobie (Southern Knights)
2. Patrick Harrison (Watsonians)
3. Marius Tamosaitis (Stirling Wolves)
4. Jack Fisher (Boroughmuir Bears)
5. Tom Smith (Stirling Wolves)
6. Craig Nolan (Future XV)
7. Corbin Thunder (Southern Knights)
8. Callum Anderson (Heriot’s)