Gala stretch gap at the top as Kings series reaches half way

Winners Gala

Winners Gala

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Gala claimed their third title in this season’s Kings of the Sevens series with victory over Watsonians in the final of the Peebles tournament at the Gytes last Sunday.

The win opens up a substantial lead of 20 points over nearest challengers Jed-Forest at the half way stage of the competition.

Gala on the attack against Watsonians in the final

Gala on the attack against Watsonians in the final

Of course there are still five rounds of the Kings series remaining and much could change but Gala are certainly developing a winning habit. What was all the more encouraging for the Maroons is that their Peebles plunder was achieved without pacemen Craig Robertson and Jamie Parker, playmaker Gregor Hunter and his brother Fraser, and Scotland under-20 full back Ruairi Howarth.

Coach Chris Dalgleish brought into the side Stevie Cairns, Graham Spiers and Keith Young and in the event all three contributed massively to Gala’s win at Peebles.

Spiers certainly merited his Player of the Tournament award after playing consistently well throughout, but close contenders would surely have been Craig Dods, who is hitting top form in sevens rugby, and Cairns, whose defensive qualities were key to Gala’s success.

“The boys were hurting a bit from Langholm and we had to make a few changes,” said Dalgleish.

Berwick v President's 7

Berwick v President's 7

“We struggled a bit to find form in the early rounds but dug in against Peebles.

“We’ve got a good squad of players and we needed them this weekend. I’m thrilled to bits . That’s the best tournament win we’ve had. The team was thrown together this morning.”

Elsewhere, Kings title contenders Jed suffered an early exit after losing to a powerful Edinburgh Accies side that benefited from having Edinburgh wing Jamie Farndale. Accies went on to defeat an understandably fatigued Melrose seven in the second round. Meanwhile Langholm winners Hawick went out in the first round, losing to beaten finalists Watsonians.

Gala came through what was undoubtedly the ‘softer’ half of the draw, with unconvincing wins over Selkirk and guest side Orkney, before demonstrating their true worth with a 24-10 semi final victory against the host club Peebles.

Orkney go on the charge against Biggar

Orkney go on the charge against Biggar

For their part Watsonians looked potential finalists after dismissing first Hawick and then Stewart’s Melville and then producing their best form to outplay Edinburgh Accies in the second of the semi finals on their way to a 26-5 win.

Watsonians’ form made the Myreside men favourites going into the final but that seemed to be just the spur Gala needed, the Maroons’ determination showing through with an early try by Spiers converted by Dods.

But tries for Watsonians by flying machine Robbie Greenhaugh, powerhouse prop Rory Drummond and playmaker Andrew Chalmers, two of them converted, put the Myresiders into a 19-7 lead.

However a touchdown by Young just before the break reduced Watsonians’ lead and when David O’Hagan and Spiers crossed for second half tries, the latter’s converted by Dods, Gala were ahead 24-19, only for Rory Steele to tie the scores on full time with a late score.

Jed's Fraser Harkness comes under attack from his Edinburgh Accies opponent

Jed's Fraser Harkness comes under attack from his Edinburgh Accies opponent

Then in extra time Gala found the fitness reserves they needed to work the ball clear to Young who had the pace and strength to make it to the line for the title-winning try.

Gala: A. Emond, G. Graham, S. Wilkinson, C. Dods, R. Jeffrey, G. Spiers, K. Young, S. Cairns, B. Reavely, D. O’Hagan, D. Anderson (Peebles).

Watsonians: R. Buchan, R. Aitken, F. Slater, R. Greenhaugh, A. Chalmers, J. Neary, T. Hart, R. Drummond, J. Sole (Edinburgh Accies).

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