Haugh is where the heart is for four-up Melrose

2013 Earlston 7's
2013 Earlston 7's

This has been the most competitive Kings of the Sevens ever – with two events to go, seven teams still have a chance of winning the trophy.

However, after this weekend’s two tournaments at Kelso and Earlston, the favourites are probably the two teams who contested Sunday’s final at The Haugh – Melrose and Watsonians.

2013 Earlston 7's

2013 Earlston 7's

And it was the Greenyards men who now lead the series after a 33-19 win over the Myreside club.

Melrose have always done well at Earlston, and their victory gave them a fourth straight win at The Haugh.

Callum Anderson was awarded the accolade of player of the tournament, and his hat-trick in the final may have influenced that, but for me, Richard Mill was outstanding throughout the day and contributed massively to Melrose’s success.

The Greenyards men were knocked out of the Kelso Sevens the previous day by a Watsonians team which played, according to captain Mike Ker, “the best sevens rugby they’ve ever played” in their 24-0 humbling of the Black and Yellows.

2013 Earlston 7's

2013 Earlston 7's

Melrose skipper Graeme Dodds agreed that his men had allowed themselves to be bullied in that match, and they were determined not to see a repeat of that 24 hours later.

“We were very disappointed with ourselves for allowing that to happen at Kelso,” said Dodds, “and we made sure these things would be different today.

“We’re really chuffed to win again at Earlston, which is our second home, really.

“It’s a special tournament for us with many of the boys being local to the town. We worked really hard for this and deserved it in the end.”

2013 Earlston 7's

2013 Earlston 7's

Melrose looked a class act throughout the afternoon, once they got over an uncharacteristic blip in the first-round tie against Kelso, who went 12-0 up early on.

Kelso played some very attractive rugby and it has been a surprise that they have not scored too many points in the Kings of the Sevens series so far this season.

Despite the early lead, Melrose reeled them back in to take the opening round with a 33-17 win before humiliating a strong Edinburgh Accies side 38-0 in a game where everything clicked.

Selkirk provided them with tougher opposition in the semi-final, but they got through 21-12 to face a Watsonians side who always deliver on the Kings circuit.

2013 Earlston 7's

2013 Earlston 7's

After seeing off Berwick 33-0 in the first match of the day, they pummelled Musselburgh 38-5 but then had a real struggle to overcome Jed-Forest 15-12, leaving it right to the end to win the tie, with a Mike Ker try and conversion.

Yet, the Myresiders were unable to get back-to-back wins after triumphing at Kelso, as Melrose made it four-in-a-row.

As for the other Borders sides, Gala completed a disappointing weekend, with a 26-10 loss to Jed in the quarter-finals. The result meant Scott Nichol’s squad gave up top spot in the series for the first time this season.

The Riverside Park club showed no mercy on hosts Earlston with a thumping 49-0 win in the first round, while the shock of the early stages was Hawick’s 28-17 defeat to Musselburgh.

John Dalziel’s Melrose side are now aiming to make it three Kings titles in four years, after losing out to Jed-Forest last season.

But there is a lot of rugby still to be played, and with the Selkirk Sevens draw putting both Melrose and Watsonians in the lower half, they could both meet again in the semi-final stage at Philiphaugh on Saturday.

Gala and Edinburgh Accies are in the top half of the draw, while Jed-Forest, Selkirk and Hawick still have a chance.