ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park
JED-FOREST rounded off their season in perfect fashion by winning their own sevens tournament with victory over city challengers, Edinburgh Accies, in the final, when they produced a performance that was very much about power, pace and accuracy in both attack and defence.
Having already been crowned Kings of the Sevens at Selkirk last weekend, Jed-Forest might have been excused for relaxing after their title winning performance at Philiphaugh, but far from taking their foot off the pedal, the Royal Blues produced what was arguably their best performance of the season against a very good Accies’ seven whose pacy young winger, Ross Lile, was a constant threat with ball in hand.
Jed’s skipper, Gregor Young, one of three Scotland sevens international players in the Royal Blues’ team suggested that Accies brought out the best in his side. “They pushed us the whole way in that final,” he said. “They’re a good side.”
“I’m so happy for the team making the final. It’s a great day for Jed-Forest, a great day for rugby and with the sun shining you can’t beat it. We’ve slowly been getting better and better but that performance in the final was our best. We didn’t play well in the first round but Accies are such a good side we had to play well.”
Ultimately, the difference between the two sides in the final was the experience Jed have built up over a number of seasons with what is essentially a little changed squad. But Accies should be proud of their efforts at what was the 119th playing of this famous tournament.
“We’re starting to click now. Pity it’s the end of the season,” commented Accies’ experienced playmaker Richard Mill, who previously was part of Melrose’s successes. He added: “Unfortunately we made too many errors in the final and a team like Jed will crucify you if you do that. We probably didn’t take our chances, they did. Defences were both good in the final but Jed’s was better.”
Jed came through the first and second rounds with comfortable wins over Biggar and Kelso but then had to work hard to overcome a gritty Melrose side, who were rewarded for their efforts over the season with the runners-up spot in the Kings of the Sevens series. Melrose struck first with a Lewis Mallin try but touchdowns by Gregor Young, Dom Buckley and Gary Munro put Jed 19-7 ahead. Melrose managed to score a late try by James Brown but it was not enough to prevent the host club winning by 19-14.
For their part, Edinburgh Accies had big wins in the first two rounds with sizeable victories against Peebles and Selkirk before facing a determined Gala side in the second of the semi finals.
Accies led 14-5 at the break with tries from Lile and Gavin Welsh to one for Gala by Callum Pate. Then, in the second half, Accies secured their place in the final with a Mill touchdown, a late try by Craig Dods providing mere consolation for Gala.
In the final, Welsh put Accies into the lead with just one minute played, but thereafter the scoring belonged to Jed-Forest with tries for Munro, Lewis Young (2), and Rory Marshall, all converted by Munro, to ensure the Jed Challenge Cup, first played for exactly 100 years ago, returned to Riverside.
First Round: Melrose 28 Musselburgh 5, Hawick 21 Currie 14, Jed-Forest 31 Biggar 0, Kelso 29 Boroughmuir 17, Peebles 5 Edinburgh Accies 42, Selkirk 28 Highland 12, Gala 29 Berwick 10, Langholm 10 Watsonians 45.
Second Round: Melrose 31 Hawick10, Jed-Forest 33 Kelso 10, Edinburgh Accies 31 Selkirk 5, Gala 38 Watsonians 19.
Semi-Final: Melrose 14, Jed-Forest 19, Edinburgh Accies 21 Gala 12
Final: Jed-Forest 28 Edinburgh Accies 5.
Jed-Forest: D Buckley, F Scott, G Young, G Munro, L Walker, R Marshall, L Young, D Gillespie, E Stewart, R Shirra-Gibb.
Edinburgh Accies: M Wallace, R Lile, R Campbell, B Appleson, A Ingwood, W Stephen, V Hart, G Welsh, J Jones, R Mill
Referee: Finlay Brown
Kings of the Sevens final positions –
- Jed-Forest (68pts)
- Melrose (46pts)
- Selkirk (45pts)
- Kelso (29pts)
- Edinburgh Accies (26pts)
- Gala (25pts)
- Watsonians (24pts)
- Hawick ( 17pts)