Rugby Union: Armstrong lifts Scottish hearts

Click to follow
The Independent Online
South of Scotland. . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Edinburgh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

SOUTH, the side with the richer rugby heritage, beat Edinburgh, the team with the greater current potential, to claim the Inter-District title and a fixture against next season's visiting All Blacks.

A fast, fluid encounter at Melrose also provided a host of pre- Christmas bonuses for the Scotland selectors, in particular the form of Gary Armstrong.

The knee injury which put Armstrong out of the last Five Nations' Championship could have been sustained years rather than months ago such is his form at present. The scrum-half was at his sniping best as South exploited the rucks to establish the winning edge.

Meanwhile, John Kerr, the Edinburgh wing whose two tries at least helped his side have the better of the try count, is guaranteed overtures from clubs keen to lure him from Third Division Haddington.

Johnny Brown, South's coach, felt his team should have won more convincingly and pointed to an incident when, at 13-3 ahead, Gregor Townsend broke clear but ignored the overlapping Tony Stanger and was tackled just short of the line.

Edinburgh, for their part, could not help wondering what might have been had their regular No 8, Stuart Reid, not joined Kenny Milne on the injured list just before the start.

Also, with police leave cancelled because of the EC summit, Edinburgh were unable to field Alex Moore, their former Scotland wing, whose young deputy, Kenny Milligan, was easily brushed aside by Stanger for the opening try.

Crucially, South's lone policeman, Derek Turnbull, made the most of a few hours break from duty. The flanker, along with Carl Hogg, Craig Chalmers and Armstrong, had a profound influence on the outcome.

As for Scotland, the outlook may not be so bleak after all. The South's win was a tonic, too, for their backs coach, John Rutherford, who is in hospital recovering from an operation to repair ligament damage which ended his career five years ago. Now 37, the stand-off intends to play again, though only socially.

South of Scotland: Try Stanger; Conversion Chalmers; Penalties Chalmers 4. Edinburgh: Tries Kerr 2; Conversion Donaldson; Penalty Dondaldson.

SOUTH OF SCOTLAND: G Aitchison (Kelso); A Stanger (Hawick), G Townsend (Gala), G Shiel (Melrose), I Tukalo (Selkirk); C Chalmers (Melrose), G Armstrong (Jed-Forest); G Isaac, I Corcoran (capt), H Hunter (Gala), R Brown, G Weir (Melrose), D Turnbull (Hawick), C Hogg (Melrose), J Amos (Gala). Replacement: S Nichol (Selkirk) for Stanger, 43.

EDINBURGH: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); J Kerr (Haddington), S Hastings (Watsonians), D Wyllie, K Milligan (Stewart's/Melville FP); A Donaldson (Currie), D Patterson; D Wilson (Edinburgh Academicals), B Brown, P Wright (Boroughmuir), M Rudkin (Watsonians), A Macdonald (Heriot's FP), S Aitken (Watsonians), D Jackson (Edinburgh Academicals), J Robertson (Heriot's FP).

Referee: A Spreadbury (Somerset).