ALAN LORIMER @ Mansfield Park
BOROUGHMUIR finally confirmed their enormous potential in sevens rugby by winning the Hawick tournament with a decisive victory over Edinburgh Accies in the final at Mansfield Park by producing a performance that blended a subtle attack with a well-organised and hard-working defence.
Successful coach, Graham Shiel, however, conceded straightaway that his side benefitted from not having to play a first round tie after Hamilton, along with Gala and Peebles, opted to put National League priorities ahead of sevens rugby in a move that should prod the organisers of the spring circuit to question the wisdom of competitions being staged in the month of April.
Hawick have already recognised the difficulty of fifteens rugby clashing with the sevens game by deciding to move their tournament from its traditional slot in April to August 10th ahead of the start of next season. Hawick’s shift will not alone solve the problem but the thing it will do is reduce the number of weekends when there are back-to-back tournaments.
None of which is to belittle the quality of sevens rugby produced by Boroughmuir, Accies and Watsonians, the three stand-out teams in this tournament. Sadly, Jed were afflicted by National One commitments and were able to send only a second/third tier team.
Having had to sit out the first round, Boroughmuir were tested to the limit in the first of the quarter-finals against the current Kings of the Sevens title holders, Watsonians. In the event the match went to extra time after the a late try by the Myresiders from Andrew Skeen levelled the scores at 28-28, but in extra time Jack Hamilton sprinted clear to score the winner for the Meggetland side and book a place in the first of the semis against the host club Hawick.
If the quarter final had been a knife edge tie for Boroughmuir, the semi-final was the opposite as tries by Greg Cannie, player-of-the-tournament Tom Wilson and Archie Russell established a 21-0 interval lead. Then, after the break, Wilson and Gavin Welsh added further tries, and it was only a last-second touchdown from Ali Weir that prevented a whitewash for the Greens.
Runners-up at the Greenyards last weekend, Edinburgh Accies were tipped as favourites for the Hawick title. Their route to the final was via 38-0 win over Jed-Forest, and then a decisive 33-7 victory against Glasgow Hawks, teeing up a semi-final against Heriot’s.
Accies led 19-0 at half-time with tries from Sam Johnston, Ruairi Campbell and Neil Armstrong. Ross Coombe crossed for Heriot’s after the interval but Accies confirmed their win with a late try by skipper Jamie Sole.
In the final, Boroughmuir used the advantage of playing one less tie to build up a 14-0 lead over Accies by half-time with tries by Cannie and Laidlaw. The Meggetland dominance continued in the second half with Cannie scoring a second try and then Gavin Parker racing in for his side’s final score before Chalmers scooped a consolation score for Accies.
“It was disappointing not having a first tie,” said Shiel. “In fairness to Accies, that probably made the difference in the final. We played some excellent sevens today. The boys stretched teams and they went through the middle.
“Defensively today we worked really hard for one another. Other teams had to work really hard to score. It helps having a couple of good playmakers in Tom [Wilson] and Chris [Laidlaw]. It’s an axis and it makes things happen. We’ve got good physicality, so it’s a good blend. We were deserving winners today.”
Accies lead the Kings of the Sevens title race after four rounds ahead of second-placed Melrose, who fielded very much a second side at Hawick. The Raeburn Place side were clearly disappointed at not being able to follow up their Melrose performance with a win at Hawick, but had no complaints.
“They [Boroughmuir] were definitely the better side.” said coach Mark Appleson. “We perhaps lack a bit of speed – someone to go the length. But we’re still happy with our seven points and we’ll go again at Berwick.”
First round: Langholm 0 Watsonians 63, Hamilton v Boroughmuir walkover for Boroughmuir, Kelso 5 Hawick 41, Berwick 12 President’s V11 17, Selkirk 5 Melrose 41, Peebles v Heriot’s walkover for Heriot’s, Glasgow Hawks 28 Hawick Force 12, Edinburgh Accies 38 Jed-Forest 0.
Quarter-finals: Watsonians 28 Boroughmuir 33 (AET), Hawick 24 Presidents V11 21, Melrose 10 Heriot’s 29, Glasgow Hawks 7 Edinburgh Accies 33.
Semi-finals: Boroughmuir 35 Hawick 7, Heriot’s 5 Edinburgh Accies 24
Final: Boroughmuir 26 Edinburgh Accies 5
Final teams –
Boroughmuir: G Cannie, J Matthews, R Ure, T Wilson, C Laidlaw, A Russell, G Parker, G Welsh, J Hamilton, G Inkster.
Edinburgh Accies: W Stephen, S Johnston, J Pecquer, R Chalmers, R Mill, M Sinclair, R Seydak, J Sole, R Campbell.
Referee: G Ormiston (Gala)
Ned Haig Kings of the Sevens rankings (after four rounds) –
Edinburgh Accies 27