A FEW exciting young guns in the team this week. Teenager Connor Boyle’s outstanding performance for Watsonians in their victory over Boroughmuir made him a stick-on at number eight; alongside another Under-20s prospect in Struan Dow of Glasgow Hawks at open-side, who was the league’s top tackler for the second week running, this time with a grand total of 30, which edges him ahead of Jack McLean of Heriot’s (28 tackles) and Thomas Gordon of Currie Chieftains (27 tackles).
Meanwhile, Tommy Spinks, who started at openside flanker but switched to the blindside midway through the first half when Pete McCallum went off, completes the back-row triumvirate, after a typically energetic performance.
The tireless Angus Runciman of Melrose retains a berth in the second-row and is joined by Jamie Hodgson of Watsonians; with Andy Kirkland of Glasgow Hawks and Tom Drennan of Boroughmuir particularly unlucky to miss out.
In the front-row, Grant Stewart’s all-action performance for Hawks in their first victory of the campaign away to Hawick earns him the number two jersey, which is a bit tough on Russell Anderson of Melrose and Reyner Kennedy of Stirling County, who both put in huge shifts.
Murphy Walker, Stirling County’s 18-year-old tight-head prop, had an outstanding game in scrum and open play to earn selection, with club-mate Remy Chies getting the nod at loose-head – edging out Hawick’s Shawn Muir, who made an impressive comeback from injury with 21 carries.
Behind the scrum, Andrew Simmers scored one try and got the assist of another as Heriot’s battled their way back into the contest after the break against Ayr, which sneaks him into the team just ahead of opposite number David Armstrong, Bruce Colvine of Melrose and Peter Jericevich of Stirling County.
Frazier Climo oozed class for Ayr, as did Lee Millar for Watsonians, and Liam Brims’ place kicking was exceptional for Glasgow Hawks, but Andrew Goudie’s two try performance – plus 13 tackles – for Stirling County edges him into the stand-off slot.
Ronan Kerr was rock solid at inside centre in a losing cause for Boroughmuir, while 17-year-old Andrew Mitchell showed maturity beyond his age with a composed performance in both attack and defence for Hawick, which earns them selection ahead Ayr’s dynamic duo of Stafford McDowall and Paddy Kelly. Robbie Nelson of Currie Chieftains and Craig Jackson were, as ever, strong contenders for the number 12 jersey.
Kyle Rowe’s rip-roaring start to the season continued. The Ayr winger showed excellent pace and balance when helping himself to two excellent tries, not to mention that great athleticism and bravery he showed at the beginning of the match to win back his team’s kick-off and set the tone for the opening 40 minutes. Darcy Graham was a threat every time he got the ball on the opposite wing.
Grant Anderson is one of the most consistent performers in the league and thoroughly deserves selection at full-back, which raises the average age of the team by a few months.
Last weekend’s Tennent’s Premiership match reports –
Tennent’s Premiership: County down Chieftains to prove play-off credentials
Tennent’s Premiership: pack power decisive as Melrose despatch Accies
Tennent’s Premiership: Hawks profit from extra men in finale at Hawick
Tennent’s Premiership: Watsonians back to winning ways with clinical conquest of Boroughmuir
Tennent’s Premiership: dominant first half allows Ayr to topple Heriot’s
15. Grant Anderson (Ayr)
14. Kyle Rowe (Ayr)
13. Andrew Mitchell (Hawick)
12. Ronan Kerr (Boroughmuir)
11. Darcy Graham (Watsonians)
10. Andrew Goudie (Stirling County)
9. Andrew Simmers (Heriot’s)
1. Remy Chies (Stirling County)
2. Grant Stewart (Glasgow Hawks)
3. Murphy Walker (Stirling County)
4. Jamie Hodgson (Watsonians)
5. Angus Runciman (Melrose)
6. Tommy Spinks (Ayr)
7. Struan Dow (Glasgow Hawks)
8. Connor Boyle (Watsonians)
Not seen as much club rugby this season so far as I would have liked but one player who has really impressed me of those I have seen is Ronan Kerr of Boroughmuir. Delighted to see him in this week’s XV. After missing out on Under 20 selection, he appears to have stepped up a level, delivering solid tackling, organisational leadership, and well timed passes repeatedly.