Kelso secure Kings of the Sevens title despite final loss to hosts Selkirk

It was a great day for the home fans at Philiphaugh

Selkirk celebrate their Sevens success on home soil
Selkirk celebrate their Sevens success on home soil. Pic: Rob Gray

ALAN LORIMER @ Philiphaugh

COMPETITION leaders Kelso secured this season’s Kings of the Sevens title after finishing runners-up to the host club at the Selkirk Sevens and will go into next Saturday’s final round at Jed-Forest as the already crowned champions.

They may have the Kings crown in the bag but Kelso are determined to finish their season in style at Riverside as their coach Murray Hastie confirmed, saying: “We’re really chuffed about winning the Kings but we still really want to go for a win at Jed next weekend”.

Kelso, despite being beaten in the final by Selkirk at the penultimate tournament, have been the outstanding team in this season’s Kings competition.

 

 

Their title ambition was laid out at the end of last year as Hastie explained: “We sat down in December with this group of players and asked the question: Do we want to go for the Kings this season?

“So we had about nineteen boys who committed to it. The great thing is that it’s a young side. A lot of young lads and some who didn’t get the opportunity to play today – a few teenagers. So the future looks good for Kelso”

Progress through the rounds of what was a ludicrously skewed tournament –  with a heavily weighted bottom half of the draw including the three top ranked teams going into the Selkirk Sevens – was a tough slog for Kelso as Hastie acknowledged.

“We had to put in a big shift to get to the final. We had a tough opening tie against Heriot’s and then a difficult quarter against Edinburgh Accies.  And in the semi final we faced Gala who always raise their game against us . We just fell a little bit short in the final,” suggested Hastie.

Kelso’s win in the Kings was hugely aided by Melrose fielding a side that was missing three of its star players, among them, playmaker, Struan Hutchison, who had accepted an invitation to play for the Samurai this weekend. But missing also were Hamish Weir and Donald Crawford, leaving Melrose having to draft in less experienced players for the Selkirk tournament.

Melrose went into the Selkirk Sevens just five points behind Kelso and with a chance to overtake their Poynder Park rivals. But in the event, Melrose, another victim of the bottom heavy draw, were beaten 26-12 by a strong Edinburgh Accies side in the first round, and thus came away with zero Kings points.

That meant once Kelso had reached the final the overall Kings title was their’s. In the absence of a Melrose challenge at Selkirk, Gala have now moved into second place after another good set of performances.

If there was euphoria in the Kelso squad then that was matched at Philiphaugh by the joy of Selkirk players, coaches and fans at a first win of the Kings competition this season. Admittedly Selkirk had something of a stroll through the top half of the draw and probably went into the final fresher than Kelso, but nevertheless beating Kelso in the final was a measure of their quality and, it has to be said, their unfulfilled potential.

Selkirk deserve huge plaudits for bringing their top game to their own tournament despite being unable to field their top team. Selkirk coach, Mike Jaffray summed up the feelings of his squad, after their first title win this season, saying: “It’s always good to win your own tournament. We’ve had bad luck this season. We played well at Melrose but picked up a few injuries to key players. That’s kind of continued; we get one back and then lose two. So we’ve not really had any consistency.

“The ten players today were outstanding. The work rate for each other was great” observed Jaffray, who picked out Lachlan Ferguson as typifying the effort that went into victory. “Lachlan has such a great engine. He  played ever minute of every tie. But overall the boys have put a lot of graft in. However I’m disappointed that we’ve not had consistency previous to this.

In the final Kelso looked to be on song when they opened the scoring with a try and conversion by Dwain Patterson. But Selkirk quickly found top gear to score tries by Aaron McColm, player of the tournament, Ryan Cottrell and Blake Cullen, all converted by McColm for a 21-7 half time lead.

Selkirk then received a killer blow at the beginning of the second half when Josh Welsh scored from the kick-off, with McColm adding the conversion. Kelso were able to hit back with touchdowns from Patterson, former Southern Knights back row Harry Borthwick, who was playing his first game of rugby since November, and James Thompson but only one of these converted.

But any hopes Kelso entertained of clinching the game at the death were dashed when Welsh repeated his feat of the opening seconds of the second half with a score that sealed the Selkirk 7s title for the hosts.

 

Selkirk 7s Results

Round 1: Langholm 0  Jed-Forest 40, Hawick  10 President’s V11 19, Selkirk 31 Peebles 7, Berwick 29  Boroughmuir 12, Gala 28 Currie 12, Musselburgh 26 Watsonians 31, Kelso 21 Heriot’s  14, Melrose 12 Edinburgh Accies 26.

Quarter Finals:  Jed-Forest 31 President’s V11 0, Selkirk 42 Berwick 0, Gala 31 Wartsonians 12, Kelso 21 Edinburgh Accies 10

Semi Finals:  Jed-Forest 15 Selkirk 35, Gala 14 Kelso 19.

Final: Selkirk 33 Kelso 24

Selkirk: J Welsh, R Cook, R Nixon, A McColm, L Ferguson, R Cotterill, B Cullen, F Anderson, C McNeil, O McClymont

Kelso: H Borthwick, A Roberts, F Robson, J Thompson, N Stingl, A Barbour, R Tweedie, C Thompson, D Patterson, W Tweedie

 

Kings of the Sevens table after 9 rounds

  1. Kelso 54
  2. Gala 43
  3. Melrose 42
  4. Selkirk 37
  5. Jed-Forest 28
  6. Heriot’s 16
  7. Peebles 15
  8. Watsonians 14
  9. Edinburgh Accies 14
  10. Hawick 10

 

About Alan Lorimer 358 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.

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