TOUGH conditions for rugby and some scrappy matches, but there was the usual fierce competition for selection to the Dream Team from this weekend’s Tennent’s Premiership action.
The scrum was the key to Glasgow Hawks’s success in their battle against fellow strugglers Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place so props Gary Strain and Lewis Skinner earn starting spots, while Boroughmuir loose-head Ross Dunbar is worth an honourable mention as his team’s top tackler with 15.
Russell Anderson gets the nod at hooker after a typically busy performance, including 13 carries, in Melrose’s stalemate against Heriot’s at Goldenacre.
This week’s Tennent’s Premiership match reports –
Rhys Davies and Mike Vernel combined excellently in the middle-row for Currie Chieftains in their impressive victory over Watsonians.
Hamilton Burr is at number six after a terrific all round performance in Stirling County’s victory over Boroughmuir at Bridgehaugh, edging into the team ahead of the imposing Bruce Flockhart of Glasgow Hawks.
Hawks head coach Fin Gillies reckoned open-side Matt Smith‘s desire to push his way back into Glasgow Warriors contention led to him overdoing things against Edinburgh Accies, especially in the first half when he needed to just focus on his basics, but he was his team’s top tackler with 17, and also contributed two tries t. However, Jack McLean‘s monstrous 24 tackles for Heriot’s against Melrose edges him into the number seven jersey.
Currie Chieftains number eight Scott McGinley was mobile, strong with the ball and capped a fine individual performance with his team’s bonus point try, so is selected ahead of Senitiki Nayalo of Boroughmuir, who made a good case for inclusion with 17 ball carries during his 52 minutes before going off injured.
Beyond the confines of Millbrae, David Armstrong is an underrated player, whose understanding of how Ayr want to manage their game has been key to the success the league leaders have enjoyed this season, plus his work-rate is phenomenal, so he is at scrum-half having played a key role in his team running in six tries in treacherous conditions.
On most weeks he would be joined at half-back by his club-mate Frazier Climo – who was majestic against Hawick – but Andrew Goudie edges it after scoring two early tries of his own and orchestrating Stirling County’s win over Boroughmuir.
In the centre, Stafford McDowall continues to impress for Ayr at 12, while youngster Andrew Mitchell was once again outstanding on another difficult day for Hawick, showing great awareness, speed and power when blasting up the middle of the park to his team’s only try. A quick word of recognition is due to Rob Kay, who scored a brilliant 50-yard interception try, but he had few other chances to shine on a pretty bleak occasion at Goldenacre.
It wasn’t a day for wingers, but Jordan Edmunds of Boroughmuir took his try well on the left; and, similarly, Robbie Nairn showed his professional pedigree for Ayr when running back a Hawick clearance from deep and bouncing two tackles, then feeding Grant Anderson and staying in the game to collect the return pass, before motoring home from 20 yards past two more flailing tackles.
Stirling County’s Craig Robertson is at full-back after scoring the match winning try against Boroughmuir, with Jamie Forbes perhaps the most unlucky player to miss out.
15. Craig Robertson (Stirling County)
14. Robbie Nairn (Ayr)
13. Andrew Mitchell (Hawick)
12. Stafford McDowall (Ayr)
11. Jordan Edmunds (Boroughmuir)
10. Andrew Goudie (Stirling County)
9. David Armstrong (Ayr)
1. Gary Strain (Glasgow Hawks)
2. Russell Anderson (Melrose)
3. Lewis Skinner (Glasgow Hawks)
4. Rhys Davies (Currie Chieftains)
5. Mike Vernel (Currie Chieftains)
6. Hamilton Burr (Stirling County)
7. Jack McLean (Heriot’s)
8. Scott McGinley (Currie Chieftains)