If Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (pictured above) isn’t the scrum-half in the Guinness PRO12 Dream Team this season, it can only because Ospreys man Rhys Webb has won over the selectors. With four rounds to go, some would argue the Wales international is well deserving for scoring eight tries in 10 league appearances. There’s no doubting how impressive, and important, Webb has been to the Welsh region, but the same can be said of Hidalgo-Clyne in an Edinburgh team with fewer world class players around him and battling to overcome an unfortunate number of injuries to key players. 2014/15 has been a breakout year for the 21-year-old, who admits he is still learning his trade at scrum-half, but his rapid rise has seen him make five appearances off the bench for Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations this year with many calls for him to be given a chance ahead of experienced campaigner Greig Laidlaw in the Rugby World Cup warm-ups rather than final-quarter cameos. His kicking off the tee has been a real asset for the Gunners this season since he became their primary goal kicker in December, landing 18 from 23 attempts (78.26 per cent) and contributing 66 points (including one try) in six PRO12 games, with 16 coming against the Scarlets in Llanelli, as well as second successive man of the match award. The early promise is certainly paying dividends for Alan Solomons, and Hidalgo-Clyne’s confidence in his ability to march his team around the park, deliver quick ball for his backline colleagues, and his vision and pace have been equally important, and there’s plenty more to come from the young man. If he continues to develop in the next 15 months, there’s a very good chance he can become Scotland’s Rhys Webb.
His knock-on with the tryline in sight last week, which ultimately led to a late Italy try in Wales’ final Six Nations match, was something to forget for the Scarlets’ replacement scrum-half, but he certainly won’t want to see many replays of his moment of madness in the second half against Edinburgh as he planted his forehead into centre Andries Strauss during a bit of afters on the sideline. Missed by the on-field officials, it didn’t escape the attention of the still eagle-eyed former international referee Derek Bevan, who was on TMO duties and backed up by the Hawk-Eye video replay trial. Once the red mist had settled, referee John Lacey flashed some red of his own at the Scarlets man, who will now be hauled before a disciplinary hearing and could find himself very lucky to play again this season with just four rounds remaining. Davies was in last season’s PRO12 Dream Team, but this season, already hit by injuries, looks to be a write-off, and it could also damage his Rugby World Cup chances as he battles with Mike Phillips to back up Rhys Webb. Accidental head injuries from contact are already under close enough scrutiny. Malicious contact with the head, like that from Davies, have absolutely no place in the game.
Edinburgh number eight David Denton appears to be rediscovering his best form at the right time ahead of the Rugby World Cup in a season beset by injury. While Glasgow Warriors continue to set the league alight with eye-catching performances at the summit, Edinburgh have been painfully inconsistent too often this season and badly hit by injuries. Denton has taken his time to get back to some sort of form, and it can’t have come at a better time for the Gunners approaching the business end of the season. With three of the final four matches at home, Denton will be key to Edinburgh’s chances of securing the PRO12’s last guaranteed European Champions Cup place with a sixth place finish, despite Irish giants Munster and Leinster still to visit BT Murrayfield. His ball-carrying, and link to in-form scrum Hidalgo-Clyne will be crucial to the Gunners making a late push to knock Connacht off sixth place, and he showed against the Scarlets that he can again be the unsung hero that Alan Solomons needs.
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