SELKRK pushed themselves into contention for the Kings of the Sevens crown after winning the Earlston Sevens at The Haugh with victory in the concluding round over serial finalists, Melrose. But with two rounds of the competition remaining, Jed-Forest, who were beaten semi-finalists at Earlston, are still out front in the race for the Kings title.
The Philiphaugh men came through the first two rounds comfortably but in the semi-final they had to work hard before overcoming a hard-tackling Gala side with a 14-12 scoreline. Melrose, meanwhile, emerged from the lower half of the draw with wins over Edinburgh Accies and Gala YM before squeezing out Jed-Forest in the second of the semi-finals by 19-14.
In the final, Selkirk, playing intelligent sevens rugby and deploying a fierce defensive system led 12-0 at the break from a brace of tries by player-of-the-tournament Finlay Wheelan. Then in the second half, Ryan Cottrell and Lachlan Ferguson, who was part of Merchiston’s Scottish Schools u18 Cup winning side, added further touchdowns, on either side of the sole Melrose score from Donald Crawford.
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Selkirk coach, Scott Wight, one of the best players to represent Scotland in the short game, suggested his side’s win was about both hard graft and taking a chance on youth. He said: “The boys have put in a huge amount of work over the past couple of weeks. Jed set the bar but I thought we were really good at Kelso [the previous day] but just came up short.
“We rotated the squad for today by bringing in three young guys from the Selkirk Youth Club – Wheelans, Munro Job and Ferguson. We got better as the day went on. I thought the boys’ work rate in the final was through the roof.”
Earlston Sevens Results:
First round: Dalkeith 5 Kelso 27, Earlston 0 Gala 56, Selkirk 26 Powerbombs 12, Hawick 19 GAC7 26, Melrose 33 Edinburgh Accies 7, Gala YM 17 Boroughmuir 0, Watsonians 35 Berwick 19, Peebles 0 Jed-Forest 43.
Quarter-finals: Kelso 19 Gala 33, Selkirk 33 GAC7 0, Melrose 54 Gala YM 5, Watsonians 15 Jed-Forest 17.
Semi-finals: Gala 12 Selkirk 14, Melrose 19 Jed-Forest 14
Fina:l Selkirk 26 Melrose 5.
On Saturday, Jed-Forest followed up their win at Langholm last weekend with a title winning performance against Gala in the Kelso Centenary tournament at Poynder Park.
But in spite of finishing top of the pile at Kelso, Jed’s coach, Alan Goodfellow admitted that his side had not performed at its best.
“We didn’t actually play all that well today – maybe it was because of the weather – but what I was pleased to see was the way we fought and tackled,” he said. “Everyone thinks we’re full of runners but today we showed a different side to our game. We gave away very few tries today. It was nice to see us win in a different fashion.”
Jed certainly sank in the tackles at Poynder Park with heavy hits from the likes of Gary Munro that stopped scores. And in the final a trenchant defence was a necessity against a Gala team that were the surprise package of the tournament, and probably to their coach, Craig Jackson.
“We finished our fifteens programme only last week and we just chucked the boys into sevens,” he said. “We’ll go hard for three tournaments and see how far we get. To get to a final in your first tournament is really encouraging. We had some good victories and were good against Kelso in the semi-final. We were in the game in the final, it was only 12-5 at the end,” he enthused.
Jed came through the group stage with something to spare after wins over Currie Chieftains by 31-0 and then Selkirk by 17-7. Then in the second of the semi-finals, Jed had to work much harder before overcoming an impressive Edinburgh Accies seven that had defeated guest side Samurai, containing students from the North of England.
Tries by Rory Marshall, Lewis Walker and Gregor Young were enough to undo Accies, who had a first half touchdown from Fraser Lindsay but who thereafter were held in check by dogged Jed defence.
For their part, Gala emerged from Pool A with a superior points difference to Melrose and Musselburgh after each of the the sides had each won one match. Gala stepped up their game against the host club Kelso in the first of the semis, skipper Liam Scott giving them a 12-0 half time lead with a brace of tries, before teenager Murray Wilson sealed the tie with a second half score to see Gala home, if not exactly dry in the damp conditions by 19-0.
Then, in the final, it was Gala who struck first with an unconverted try by Rex Jeffrey but that was to be their only points in the tournament decider as Jed pressure produced tries by Lewis Walker and Munro for a 12-7 victory.
- Pool A: Melrose 21 Musselburgh 24, Gala 26 Musselburgh 14, Melrose 14 Gala 12
- Pool B: Kelso 28 Watsonians 7, Hawick 5 Watsonians 43, Kelso 26 Hawick 5
- Pool C: Jed-Forest 31 Currie Chieftains 0, Selkirk 28 Currie Chieftains 17, Jed-Forest 17 Selkirk 7
- Pool D: Samurai Rugby 36 Peebles 14, Edinburgh Accies 38 Peebles 7, Samurai Rugby 7 Edinburgh Accies 26
- Semi finals: Gala 19 Kelso 0, Jed-Forest 17 Edinburgh Accies 7
- Final: Gala 5 Jed-Forest 12
- Gala: B Gill, C Dods, M Wilson, L Scott, A Dun, F Johnston, R Jeffrey, T Mckavanagh, H Rutherford, G McGurn, M Reid, A Mitchell (repl by S Hutchison)
- Jed-Forest: D Buckley, F Scott, G Young, G Munro, L Walker, R Marshall, L Young, R Yourston, E Stewart, C Douglas, R Shirra Gibb, K Hayes.
- Referee: R Campbell
Position after seven rounds:
- Jed-Forest 48 pts
- Melrose 38 pts
- Selkirk 35 pts
- Kelso 23 pts
- Gala and Watsonians 20 pts
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Generally excellent Sevens rugby on successive days, but was the distractingly loud “music” really necessary during play at Earlston, nowadays resembling more of an under-age booze festival than anything else?
As a small club we rely heavily on this day to help us throughout the year. Our main sponsor hosts a separate, albeit linked, after party and the loud music was sound checks in advance of this. One of the benefits this brings to the club is the ability to offer a Hospitality package during the day which without the marquee we would be unable to do.
Our Sevens have also attracted a fairly young demographic in recent years and we try very hard to ensure that there is limited underage drinking, including separate wristbands for those under 18 and a strict Challenge 25 policy in our bar.
Other than the issues highlighted we hope you enjoyed the day. Please don’t see this reply as us being overly defensive and your comments will be fed into our next Committee Meeting
No worries, Jim, probably an age thing! The relevance of annual sevens tournaments to host clubs and the need nowadays to provide attractions alongside the rugby to maximise returns are not in question.
Overall, the Kings of the Sevens is a wonderful sporting / community asset here in the Borders. In my experience over the years, the Earlston round has been consistently well organised, managed and generally blessed with fine weather….
So the rubbish posted a while back about Melrose having their invitation to the Kelso sevens probed to be utter rubbish. What a surprise!