Rising star Hamish Watson confirmed after a dynamic display to help Edinburgh Accies come from behind and beat Currie 38-19 in the Scottish Premiership at Raeburn Place that he is ready to take any chance offered by Edinburgh Rugby during the Autumn Test window.
The flanker, who turned 21 last week, could hardly have picked a better day to demonstrate his superb angles of running and solid cover tackling with Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley watching alongside SRU performance director, Graham Lowe.
It is understood these luminaries left before full-time but would surely have seen enough from Watson, as well as noting the name of Currie full back Jamie Forbes, who turned in another five-star display, which included a try-saving tackle on Alex Black as well as a brilliant run to the posts for a try made by Simeon James.
Of all the players on display – Currie lost Dougie Fife beforehand because he will apparently be needed by Edinburgh in Ulster on Friday – it was Watson who seemed ripe for promotion and this elite development squad flanker acknowledged he was keen to build on four Rabo Direct appearances from off the bench last season.
“Hopefully I will get some game time next weekend against Ulster.
“Some of the internationalists in my position will be away and I played a few times last season off the bench and felt I did alright,” he said.
As for Accies’ storming six try effort Watson was in no doubt the dubious sin-binning of colleague Nyle Godsmark for a late tackle when Currie led 19-12 had a galvanising effect.
“It was weird how that yellow card fired us up a bit and got us going so that we came through in the end,” said Watson, once a Leicester Tigers academy prospect but always committed to Scottish age-group sides through parentage.
Accies coach Simon Cross, himself a former Scotland A flanker, is convinced that Watson has taken his play up a level. “Hamish Watson has been consistently good for us.
“He is fit, ready, got his running lines right, his tackling and ball carrying, too. He is ready for a pro outing. I hope we keep him but I also hope Edinburgh see how he has been playing and give him an opportunity.
“I remember when I was released by Edinburgh to play three or four solid club performances for Selkirk.
“It sharpened me up so much that on my first game back in the pro game, at Ulster, I was awarded a man-of-the-match prize,” said Cross.
Accies had their injury woes, notably Alex Blair retiring after eight minutes with a torn hamstring and that was a significant loss. But Currie paid a high price for having only one back among their five substitutes when Andy Binikos, Adam Hinds and Jamie Forbes were hurt along with Mike Entwhistle on the flank.
By the end there were two forwards in their back line and it showed as pacy and penetrative Accies began to scent victory.
While Cross followed in the wake of Heriot’s coach Phil Smith last week in praising Jamie Forbes – “Currie have so many dangerous runners but full back Forbes was a threat every time he had the ball” – visiting mentor Ally Donaldson was left assessing casualties.
“Having three backs go off with injuries didn’t help. However, that is no excuse for coughing up ball and missing tackles the way we did.
“Accies played really well but we weren’t good at the breakdown and nor did we tackle well so we know where we need to improve,” said Donaldson.
The impressive James Johnstone capitalised on confusion in the Accies defence for the opening try converted by Forbes but inevitably it was home skipper Dan Teague who provided the link for the equaliser by Ruairidh Bonner who also converted.
Teague then notched his fifth try of what is proving another vintage season for the flanker but Forbes’ try meant a 14-12 interval lead for Currie.
When Hinds went over in the corner they seemed set to take charge but Accies had other ideas as full back Ruairidh Young scored twice followed by Godsmark and sub Callum Reid.
“That was no hammering, we just got a couple of late tries,” said the magnanimous Cross who did admit: “some of the subs such as Kenny Blyth and Callum Reid did particularly well as, coming off the bench, it can be difficult to get yourself into the game.”
Edinburgh Accies: Tries – Young (2), Godsmark, R Bonner, Findlater, Reid. Conversions – R Bonner (4).
Currie: Tries – Hinds, Johnstone, Forbes. Conversions – Forbes (2).
Edinburgh Accies: R Young, M Coupar, E Campbell, N Godsmark, A Blair, R Bonner, A Black, D Morrison, C Black, C Murray, G Campbell, A Findlater, D Teague (captain), T Drennan, H Watson. Subs: M Liness, K Blyth, C Reid, M Campbell, E Bonner.
Currie: J Forbes, A Hinds, J Johnstone, S James, A Whittingham, A Binikos, R Snedden, A Hamilton, F Scott, M Erskine, S Marcell, J Gray, M Cairns (captain), R Weston, M Entwhistle. Subs: F Watts, J Cox, G Temple, M Peacock, M Johnstone.
Referee: A McPherson.