Kings of the Sevens: Melrose defeat hosts in Jed-Forest final

Victory in last tournament of season lifts Greenyards side to second-placed finish in Kings table

Melrose celebrate winning the Jed-Forest Sevens. Image: Rob Gray
Melrose celebrate winning the Jed-Forest Sevens. Image: Rob Gray

ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park

MELROSE produced their best form of the season to retain their Jed-Forest Sevens title at Riverside after defeating the host club in an exciting final, their performance atoning for a disappointing appearance in the Selkirk Sevens a week earlier. This outcome allows the Greenyards club to leapfrog Gala in the final Kings of the Sevens placings and take the runners-up spot behind Kelso. 

Melrose coach Calum Anderson explained that his group were determined to make up for that poor showing at Philiphaugh when they suffered  a first round exit after losing to Edinburgh Accies.

“We set this as a marker after being very disappointed at Selkirk and missing out on the Kings of the Sevens,” he said. “We didn’t do very well at the start of the campaign. We maybe had our forces too divided. Last week we had three of our best players missing and we don’t really have the depth to counter that.


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“But we had our strongest available side out today at Riverside and they were fantastic. We had Doug Crawford back today for his first tournament of the year. I think he really enjoyed it,” suggested Anderson, who added the impressive young Peebles and Merchiston player, Chris Thomson, to his roster for the final as cover for an injury to one of the Melrose players.

Melrose came through the lower part of the draw with comfortable wins over Heriot’s and then the  youthful Pigbarians, but had to produce their best sevens rugby in the second of the semi-finals where they faced a fast and fit Edinburgh University side, fresh from finishing runners-up in the British Universities and Colleges Plate final.

The students had impressed at Earlston earlier in the Kings series and confirmed their skill in the short game by roaring into a 17-0 lead over Melrose with tries by Dan Odejinmi, Benjy Roger and Fin Stewart with one conversion from Cam MacDonald.

But just before half-time, Melrose ate into the students’ lead with a try by Donald Crawford converted by Struan Hutchison to trail 7-17 at the break. A fourth try for the students by Luc McNally-Drew and the conversion stretched  Edinburgh University’s lead to 24-7 and pointed to a possible tournament upset, only for Melrose to show why they have such a formidable record in sevens, by scoring tries through Doug Crawford, a second for Donald Crawford and Scott Clark, two of them converted by Hutchison to win the penultimate tie by 31-24.

For their part, Jed-Forest overcame Watsonians in the first round and then Selkirk in the quarter-finals before facing this season’s ‘Kings’ champions, Kelso, in the first of the semis where they led 19-5 a half-time with tries by Gregor Young, Ben Fotheringham and Lewis Walker, and two conversions by Lewis Young, to a touchdown by Robbie Tweedie for Kelso.

Jed nailed the tie just after the break when Robbie Shirra-Gibb shot over for a try converted by Lewis Young but Kelso then staged a late rally scoring through Dwain Patterson and Archie Barbour, too late, however,  to prevent Jed from booking their place in the final.

 

 

In the final itself, the game quickly swung away from Jed who trailed 0-19 at the break to tries for Melrose by Struan Hutchison (2) and Donald Crawford, plus two conversions from Hutchison.

Jed reacted positively in the second half by scoring two tries, both by their import Callum Anderson of Selkirk who like Thomson was replacing an injured player. Anderson converted his second try but that was the end of the Jed challenge leaving Melrose winners by 19-12.

After what has been a Kings competition of mixed fortune and variable form for Jed, their coach Kevin Barrie, was pleased that his side had risen to the occasion in front of the home crowd. “We played some good ties today against Watsonians and Selkirk and then Kelso, b ut I felt that the final was maybe a game too far,” he said.

“But the attitude was good today and there was a bit of hunger there. Over the actual [Kings] series I think we could have got a lot further if we’d had the same boys all the time. But Melrose are pretty consistent in the way they play the game.

“They’ve got some good old heads to keep them steady. It was difficult for us to come back after being behind 19-0. They controlled the pace of the game and then we tried to hurry it and we started making mistakes. But that’s what happens under pressure.”

Elsewhere in the Jed tournament, aside from an excellent showing from Edinburgh University which suggests they could be a part of the core group of clubs on the Kings circuit, Highland acquitted themselves reasonably well as did the Pigbarians.

 

Results:

  • First round: Hawick 12 SDU 29, Kelso 22 Edinburgh Accies 19, Jed-Forest 28 Watsonians 7, Selkirk 26 Berwick 7, Langholm 5 Highland 35, Gala 14 Edinburgh University 19, Peebles 21 Pigbarians 28, Melrose 38 Heriot’s 7.
  • Quarter-Finals: SDU 7 Kelso 49, Jed-Forest 29 Selkirk 10, Highland 10 Edinburgh Univ 28, Pigbarians 5 Melrose  31.
  • Semi-Finals: Kelso 17 Jed-Forest 26, Edinburgh Univ 24 Melrose 31.
  • Final: Jed-Forest 12 Melrose 19.

 

Finals teams:

Jed-Forest: G Young, D Wardrop, B Fotheringham, R Douglas, R Marshall, L Young, R Shirra-Gibb, O Cranston, L Walker, C Anderson.

Melrose: H Weir, S Clark, B Colvine, Douglas Crawford, S Hutchison, Donald Crawford, H Makowski, M Bertram, R Sharp, C Fairbairn, C Thomson.

Referee: S Turnbull

 

Kings of the Sevens table after 10 rounds:

  1. Kelso 59
  2. Melrose 52
  3. Gala 43
  4. Selkirk 40
  5. Jed-Forest 35
  6. Heriot’s 16
  7. Peebles 15
  8. Watsonians 14
  9. Edinburgh Accies 14
  10. Hawick 10

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About Alan Lorimer 360 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.

2 Comments

  1. Rumours suggest that the Pigbarians are still at school. And outclassed Peebles. Well done boys.

  2. Well done Jed for organising a fantastic tournament, the sun gods were on our side, a cracking crowd, some great rugger all round with the Edi Uni lads impressing with there skill sets.
    Plaudits to Melrose who were just a little too streetwise for Jed in the final.
    I’m a Jed expat and return every year from the deepest South for this tournament and have an inkling of the huge amount of work it takes from the organising committee to lay on such a festival of rugby.
    Oh, and the caterers in the marquee, my goodness, how do they do it, just yummy and the staff all with a smile on there faces 🙂👍.
    Thank you all, just brilliant 😀

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