Melrose’s hobbling heroes put them back in the hunt for Kings of the Sevens glory

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)
EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

THE Greenyards trophy cabinet may not be particularly empty, but Melrose’s year-long wait for sevens silverware finally ended at Earlston.

Craig Chalmers’ injury-hit squad had gone seven tournaments since their last victory at Jed-Forest on May 12, 2011 – one that also clinched the Kings of the Sevens title.

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

And their 26-17 defeat of Hawick means they once again stand a chance of snatching the overall sevens crown from Jed-Forest.

Delighted captain Graeme Dodds told TheSouthern: “This is for all the guys who have played for the last six or seven weeks – we are thrilled to win some silverware.

“The guys are carrying a lot of knocks – John (Dalziel) and I are both hobbling and we don’t really do any warm ups so we just had to try and battle through.

“This is a big tournament for us, closest to our own one, so we wanted to bring our full squad here and win it.”

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

It was not a classic final, with damp and cold conditions, along with fatigue contributing to a number of errors from both sides.

Hawick’s hopes of claiming their first Earlston title since 1970 were all but over by half-time as Melrose raced into a 19-0 lead with tries from Fraser Thomson, Andrew Skeen and Dodds.

Craig Russell reduced the deficit within 24 seconds of the restart, but Thomson raced through to make it 26-7.

A delay following an injury to Keith Davies did the Teries no favours, although they managed two more scores through Gary Johnstone and Rory Hutton.

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

Hawick coach Phil Leck rued missed chances in the final.

“We butchered three opportunities in the first half when passes didn’t go to hand,” he told us.

“We made it hard for ourselves but it was a big, gutsy performance. We are down to our last eight or nine (fit) players and it has been a long, hard season.

“Melrose are a big, professional side and it is difficult for some of our lads to compete physically.”

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

Melrose’s hopes of catching Kings of the Sevens leaders Jed were aided by Selkirk’s fine 29-14 win over the Riverside Park club in the quarter-finals.

Winger Darren Clapperton shone with four touchdowns in the tie, but the Souters were edged out 12-7 in a scrappy semi-final with Melrose, played in squally showers.

Hawick dumped out Watsonians in the other semi, with Davies claiming the decisive score.

As for the other Border clubs, Gala continue to struggle in the seven-a-side version of the game, and although naming a squad full of quality for Earlston, the Netherdale team were knocked out by Kelso in the first round.

The Danish Vikings defeated the hosts in the first round and gave Melrose a scare in the quarters, their physicality and speed not quite matched by their handling skills.

But they had the consolation of claiming the inaugural Border Sevens Rugby Club Sprint held before the final, with Thomas Graagaard pipping, among others, former New Year Sprint winner Craig Robertson of Gala to lift the Andy Darling Memorial Cup.

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

EARLSTON, UNITED KINGDOM. - 06 / May / 2012 : 'Kings of the Sevens Round 8 - Earlston 7s'''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance )'(� 2012)

Melrose: J. Dalziel, J. Helps, G. Dodds, B. Colvine, A. Skeen, N. McGrath, F. Thomson, S. McCormick, R. Ovens, C. Hardie.

Hawick: K. Davies, M. Robertson, G. Cottrell, R. Hutton, G. Johnstone, N. Renwick, N. McColm, R. Hogg, C. Russell.