Wainwright passes first test towards reclaiming Scotland place

Watsonians 47 Hawick 15 Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
Rob Wainwright began what could be the most important week of his rugby career with a winning league debut for Watsonians, the club he joined a year ago and who might yet snatch the title. Watsonians are level on points with Melrose, who have a game in hand, but the teams have still to meet and the points differential separating them is shrinking with each match.

Since he moved to Watsonians from West Hartlepool, injuries have restricted Wainwright to a handful of appearances. He is being tipped to captain the Lions to South Africa this year, but first he must break back into the Scotland team and reclaim the captaincy from Gregor Townsend.

Wainwright's form on Saturday in a victory based on the superiority of Stuart Grimes at the line-out indicated his recall for the Scotland match against Wales at Murrayfield on Saturday is a near-certainty. But the captaincy is another issue.

A debate is raging north of the Border fuelled by remarks made by David Sole, the 1990 Grand Slam captain. Sole was reported in Edinburgh at the weekend as saying he would bypass both Townsend and Wainwright at this stage. Sole would like to see the job given to either Kevin McKenzie, the hooker who led Scotland A to victory over the Springboks, or outside- half Craig Chalmers, who is hoping to win a 50th cap against Wales.

According to Sole, that would enable Townsend to concentrate on being less "hit or miss" and give Wainwright less responsibility on the road back from injury. McKenzie sat out his Stirling county club's 25-24 defeat by Heriot's FP on Saturday with a minor neck strain.

Hawick's challenge fell apart when centre David Grant retired hurt, at 23-15, after half an hour. For Watsonians, Derrick Lee showed why London Scottish are so keen to recruit his services and Scott Hastings looked rejuvenated after a lacklustre inter-district series as captain of an unmotivated Edinburgh team.

Watsonians: Tries Lee, Hannah, Mayer, Burnett, Brown, Henderson; Conversions Hodge 4; Penalties Hodge 2; Drop goal Hodge. Hawick: Tries Stanger, Suddon. Conversion: Welsh. Penalty: Welsh.

Watsonians: D Lee; G Hannah, S Hastings, J Mayer, J Kerr (F Henderson, 40); D Hodge, N Burnett; P Fitzgerald, G McKelvey (capt), M Stanaway, G McRaild, S Grimes, C Brown, R Wainwright, J MacDonald (I Sinclair, 40).

Hawick: C Turnbull; G Sharp, A Stanger, D Grant (D Allot, 30), K Suddon; S Welch (capt), K Reid; B McDonnall, J Hay, A Johnstone, I Elliot, A Stevenson, G Harris, J Graham, C Cottrell.

Referee: E Murray (Greenock).