AFTER the difficulties of last season when National One fixtures conflicted with the sevens season, Jed-Forest put behind them the frustration of being unable to field strong sevens teams by winning the opening round of the 2019-20 Kings of the Sevens competition at Peebles with a substantial victory over Hawick in the final.
Throughout the tournament, Jed looked the likely winners, such was their pace in attack where the Young brothers, man-of-the-tournament Calum and Gregor, excelled; while in defence none performed better than centre Rory Marshall.
“We got to a couple of finals last season but never got any silverware,” said Jed’s head coach, Kevin Barrie. “So getting a win at the start of this season is really pleasing. We had a good squad today. I thought they performed really well. In the squad of twelve everybody got a shot and contributed to the performance.
“It was a tough day today but it was a good work-out for the boys. The boys have trained really hard over the last five weeks. The fitness level are very good now.”
Jed’s task was undoubtedly made easier by what one might describe as the Super 6 effect. Missing from the tournament was the elite Watsonians squad, who have won the Kings title for the last three seasons. Instead, Watsonians fielded a new-look side which they hope to build into a winning squad.
Although it did not officially apply to the Peebles tournament, nor to round two at Hawick next Saturday, there is a new ruling brought in by the Borders League that will prohibit Super Six players from appearing in any of the tournaments making up the Kings of the Sevens competition.
But even had Watsonians fielded their title winning squad, Jed would still have been hard to beat. Throughout the tournament Jed played with a blend of subtlety, strength and pace
Fielding several new players, among them ex-Kelso youngster Nik Stingl, alongside the core of last season’s side, Jed came through their pool with a substantial win over Kelso in the opening tie of the tournament and made sure of finishing top in their group by defeating Selkirk after fending off a determined fight-back by the Philiphaugh club.
Then, in the first of the semi-finals, Jed faced Melrose, who struck first with a try from winger Chris Raymond. But Jed soon overcame that initial set-back by scoring tries through Robbie Yourston, Dom Buckley, Gregor Young and Calum Young to propel the Riverside club into the final.
For their part, Hawick, who fielded teenager Bailey Donaldson at stand-off, dismissed Berwick in their first pool game before defeating the host club, Peebles, to book their place in the semi-finals. In the penultimate round, Hawick faced Gala, both sides scoring two tries – Richie Tod and Dan Nicholson for Gala and Andrew Mitchell twice for Hawick –but it was Aaron Redpath’s conversion that made the difference for Hawick.
In the final, Jed led 14-0 at the break with tries from Robbie Shirra-Gibb and Calum Young. Then, in the second half, Jed extended their lead with touchdowns from Gregor Young and Buckley, before Bruce McNeil scored a consolation try for Hawick.
Pool A: Jed-Forest 40 Kelso 12; Kelso 12 Selkirk 31; Jed-Forest 17 Selkirk 12.
Pool B: Edinburgh Accies 27 Heriot’s 5; Heriot’s 12 Melrose 28; Edinburgh Accies 10 Melrose 14.
Pool C: Watsonians 12 Gala 24; Gala 43 Biggar 7; Watsonians 43 Biggar 5.
Pool D: Peebles 24 Berwick 0; Berwick 7 Hawick 26′ Peebles 5 Hawick 24.
Semi-finals: Jed-forest 24 Melrose 7, Gala 10 Hawick 12.
Final: Jed-Forest 26 Hawick 5.
Jed-Forest: R Yourston, M Mitchell, G Young, G Munro, C Young, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb, D Buckley, G Law, M Stingl, L Turnbull
Hawick: A Mitchell, B McNeil, J Linton, M Bannerman, B Donaldson, L Gordon-Wooley, M Bell, R McKean, S Graham, A Redpath, L Ferguson