Murrayfield's Got Talent: Battle for Scotland no.10 jersey has turned into a reality TV show

It’s a bit like a reality show - Murrayfield’s Got Talent or more specifically Strictly Stand-Off.

Scotland stand-off Adam Hastings dives over for his try against Fiji.
Scotland stand-off Adam Hastings dives over for his try against Fiji.

Two hunky guys - who happen to be room-mates so there’s a Big Brother element too - competing for the chance to be Scotland’s playmaker against the All Blacks and maybe beyond.

Finn Russell has proved he’s got The X Factor but he’s not in contention this autumn and who knows when or indeed if he’ll be back.

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So last week Blair Kinghorn completed his audition and yesterday it was the turn of his good friend and keen rival Adam Hastings.

They go before the judges - Gregor Townsend and the rest of the coaches in the glass box - and the public sat in the stands.

Kinghorn had the fans on their feet last Saturday with a sensational try although, granted an encore and chance to win the match against Australia with a last-minute penalty, he hit a bum note.

What could Hastings do? Well, if he thought Fiji were going to be an easier test than the one faced by his buddy he was wrong. He bagged the try which turned the scoreboard Scotland’s way at the break but it was a fortunate score - and an extremely fortunate lead.

Townsend has been effusive about the friendship, the rivalry, the two-man contest. Well, anything rather than talk about the other man Russell - yet again.

“It will have been an interesting week for Adam and Blair,” the head coach suggested after finalising his team. “They’re best mates so as soon as the squad got announced we had messages from them both, five minutes apart. ‘Can I room with Blair?' And then another saying ‘Can I room with Adam?’" This is all good as far as Townsend is concerned. "We see the friendship as a positive; they’re going to drive each other on.”

Townsend’s comments might have stirred memories of the Pop Idol face-off between Will Young and Gareth Gates but yesterday was all about ruff, tuff rugby, the South Sea Islanders tackling like car-crushers and making life extremely difficult for the team in dark blue.

It wasn’t all about Hastings and Kinghorn. There was Stuart Hogg, back for the first time since being relieved of the captaincy, with the hope that free from responsibilities he could run wild and free. Unfortunately he was quickly running towards the static bikes, having been yellow carded.

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There was another glimpse of the lesser-spotted, ever-elusive but highly-regarded Cameron Redpath, a Twickenham-trumping smash-hit on his debut but only one minute of action since.

It was only a glimpse, though, as Scotland couldn’t get their attack going.

Fiji, coached by Vern Cotter, once of this parish, had charmed Murrayfield in the manner they greeted the Princess Royal - applause from each in the line, two hands round the SRU patron, then kneeling on one leg before her.

How sweet. But there was little deference about the way they played, middle-row Apisalome Ratuniyarawa being yellow-carded in the opening minute then returning to score Fiji’s second try.

After being lost and lonely souls last week, Scotland’s wingers were hoping to finally see the ball. Darcy Graham was first into action after Hastings had begun his own involvement with a slick pass but the little guy was quickly smothered. Somewhat more surprisingly the same fate befell the hulking Duhan van der Merwe. It’s not often he’s bounced backwards in the tackle.

Hastings converted George Turner’s try crisply enough but a couple of punts were gobbled up by Fiji and a fluffy tackle by the stand-off might have led to them increasing their first half lead.

The South Sea Islanders were dominant, Vern’s men playing with verve, and the relief when Scotland won a penalty on their own line was palpable with Graham urging a subdued crowd to help lift the team.

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Hastings’ try came when Scotland were at last able to relieve concerted pressure, an even fluffier attempted stop by Waisea Nayacalevu allowing the Gloucester fly-half to spin over the line. He would have hoped to build on the score but two minutes after the restart another juddering tackle ended his involvement, allowing Kinghorn to come off the bench and restate his case.

Was the Edinburgh man pleased - or daunted - to have a kick with roughly the same degree of difficulty to erase the memory of last week’s agonising miss? He’ll certainly have been pleased to see his effort sail through the posts to convert Van der Merwe’s try, Fiji unable to present a sturdy white wall to the winger on this occasion.

There was more room for Scotland in the second period and they found it easier to puncture the Fijian defence. The visitors could barely get over halfway and it was a surprise - and maybe a disappointment - that there was only one more dark blue try.

Kinghorn played his part in Scotand’s vastly improved performance after the break, burst into the line, delivering slickly and having the confidence to boom surely the longest pass he’s attempted at the stadium out to the semi-mythical Redpath who was crowded out on the line.

So how are the 10s going to settle this? A singing showdown, each reviving the tune they chose to mark their first cap in front of team-mates? Or how about a few days in the jungle with Boy George and Matt Hancock? The fans will have searched in vain under their seats for buttons to cast their votes. Townsend will decide, hopefully not while wearing one of Simon Cowell's slashed-to-the-navel shirts.



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