FRIDAY night could really have got away from Watsonians but they did well to hang in there and prevent Southern Knights from achieving a bonus-point, with Jamie Forbes a steadying influence at the back for the Myreside men, so he sneaks into the No15 jersey ahead of opposite number Joe Jenkins and Matt Davidson of Ayrshire Bulls.
Plenty of competition on the wings, so honourable mentions are due to those who missed out. Patrick Anderson was his usual handful for Southern Knights, County pair Tom Roche and Stevie Hamilton both score good tries, and Robbie Nairn‘s brace for Ayrshire Bulls would ordinarily have been enough to make the cut. But it is Jordan Edmunds, who scored two good tries in a losing cause for Boroughmuir Bears at Bridgehaugh, and live-wire Elias Cavan, who was a real spark for Ayrshire Bulls in their big win at Goldenacre, who get the nod.
When County cut-loose with ball in hand, they were a joy to behold, and outside-centre Archie Russell was a big part of that on Saturday with exquisite offloads during the lead-up to both of Roche’s and Hamilton’s excellent tries. His partner in crime in the middle of the park, Grant Hughes, also impressed back in his more customary position of inside-centre, after a couple of weeks operating at scrum-half, so edges out opposite number Robbie McCallum to make this week’s team.
Tom Jordan pulled the strong masterfully at stand-off for Ayrshire Bulls with his smart decision-making and neat skills facilitating a ruthless all-round performance for his team. His half-back partner is Kaleem Baretto of Boroughmuir Bears, who was described by Iain Morrison as “an oasis of calm and control in an otherwise frantic maelstrom” at Bridgehaugh.
In the pack, Shaun Gunn is at loose-head having played the full 80 in Southern Knights’ big win over Watsonians, showing up well in both the tight and loose, and helping himself to the second of his team’s three tries for good measure. He is joined by fellow try-scorer Fraser Renwick at hooker, and it could easily have been an all Knights front-row because Euan McLaren was also excellent, but he is edged out by Michael Scott, who played the first 74 minutes for Ayrshire Bulls to help lay the foundations for their excellent result at Goldenacre.
Once again, it was a toss-up between the two Bulls second-rows for one available slot, and this time it is Ed Bloodworth who gets the nod ahead fo his pal Tom Everard, having not carried quite as often as but but hitting a fantastic 30 rucks to help his side play with a purpose and tempo which Heriot’s struggled to cope with. He also made eight tackles with no misses.
It was an equally tight-call between Knights duo Angus Runciman and James Head for the other engine-room berth, with Runciman just edging this one, largely thanks to some of his excellent work early on chasing down kicks to land perfectly timed tackles which really disrupted Watsonians’ flow.
Knights open-side Allan Ferrie returned huge stats as his team’s joint top carrier with 11, comfortably the weekend’s top tackler with 23, and an impressive 22 rucks hit. His team-mate Harry Borthwick also made a big impression and is at blindside. Dean Taylor-Menzies is at No8 after another powerful performance featuring several big hits, including a wince-inducing, thunder-clap of a tackle on Rory Drummond of the Bears.
15. Jamie Forbes (Watsonians)
14. Elias Caven (Ayrshire Bulls)
13. Archie Russell (Stirling County)
12. Grant Hughes (Stirling County)
11. Jordan Edmunds (Boroughmuir Bears)
10. Tom Jordan (Ayrshire Bulls)
9. Kaleem Barreto (Boroughmuir Bears)
1. Shaun Gunn (Southern Knights)
2. Fraser Renwick (Southern Knights)
3. Michael Scott (Ayrshire Bulls)
4. Angus Runciman (Southern Knights)
5. Ed Bloodworth (Ayrshire Bulls)
6. Harry Borthwick (Southern Knights)
7. Allan Ferrie (Southern Knights)
8. Dean Menzies-Taylor (Stirling County)