High-flying Watsonians are preparing for a moment of truth tomorrow when they entertain Glasgow Hawks, the only team to have beaten them so far, in a table-topping National League rugby clash.
And at the heart of the ’Sonian effort will be a youngster who has found his way on to the wing with devastating effect after spells this season at back row and full-back.
Ewan Millar joined from Dumfries and immediately slotted into the second team pack where his pace, as well as some abrasive qualities, were recognised.
’Sonian president Paul Di Rollo said: “It was suggested that Ewan, who was invited along by our full-back, Rory Steele, his cousin, might like to try playing in the backs and his strong running quickly became an asset.
“There is such a good coaching set-up throughout the club that a recommendation he could do a job for the first team couldn’t be ignored and, in a debut from off the bench at Kelso, Ewan ran in three second-half tries.
“Last weekend, on his first start, he followed up with a brace in the win over Hamilton at Myreside.”
While ’Sonians went down 12-9 at Hawks on the opening day, tomorrow’s visitors took a while to slip up but succumbed 11-14 at Stewart’s-Melville before being held to a draw at home by Hawick. That means a two-point advantage for ’Sonians, who have reserved some of their best form in wiping the floor with all four Borders teams in the league.
Victories over Jed-Forest (78-3), Hawick (44-27), Selkirk (34-17) and Kelso (51-3) have caused ripples in the rugby pool south of Soutra Hill and put Watsonians into pole position for the one automatic promotion spot.
Di Rollo said: “I can’t remember a buzz quite like the one we are currently enjoying, partly due to the raft of young players such as Scott Mckean and Jack Ferguson starting to really express themselves. Scott is in his first year out of school and has been a revelation at centre while Jack’s elusiveness has earned him opportunities with the Scotland sevens squad.
“Up front, a couple of props from the Southern Hemisphere have arrived to provide the scrum with some stability and the backs are cashing in with some exciting rugby.”
In the top four divisions, only Musselburgh (388) have accumulated more points than ’Sonians’ 350 while, defensively, they have been secure under the guidance of ex-Scotland A winger Conan Sharman.
Meanwhile, in the Premiership tomorrow, Edinburgh Accies will have to make a late change at prop before entertaining Currie after under-20 internationalist Alex Allan was called on to the Edinburgh bench for tonight’s game with Scarlets when Lewis Niven pulled out due to a family bereavement. In the back row, Andrew Findlater gets a start at back row with Callum Black in at hooker while Alex Blair is on the wing.
Currie draft Dougie Fife fresh from his first taste of Heineken European Cup rugby while club international scrum-half Richard Snedden is fit again.
Heriot’s will have Edinburgh full-back Mike Penn available after shrugging off a thigh knock when they entertain Gala. However, ankle injuries rule out Marc Teague and Brian Morrisey.
Gala are expected to stand by the team which recovered superbly from losing 24 points in the first eight minutes of a British and Irish Cup tie at Llanelli before eventually going down 38-28.
Heriot’s coach Phil Smith says Gala are “probably the best defensive side in the league” while, returning the compliment, counterpart George Graham describes tomorrow’s hosts as “the in-form team in the Premiership”.
For Boroughmuir, the task is to overcome leaders Ayr on their own patch in Burns country. Returning to the Muir ranks are scrum-half Sam Johnson and hooker George Turner with Keith Buchan switching from full-back to centre in a match which could see the Bill McLaren Shield, currently in the possession of Ayr, brought back to Meggetland.
Also in the National League tomorrow, Stewart’s/Melville visit Hawick.