Gala made King of the Sevens history on Saturday, prising the Hawick 7s title away from the hosts for the first time since 2014 and joining Merlose as the only non-Hawick side to win the title since 2005.
The Maroons had to do it the hard way, defeating Langholm, Jed-Forest and Edinburgh Accies before dispatching King of the Sevens table-toppers Watsonians in the final.
“We were disappointing in the last two weeks, but (at Hawick) we showed what we can do,” said Gala coach Chris Dalgleish, following his side’s first Hawick Sevens triumph since 1996.
“The win against Jed gave the boys real belief in themselves and, after that, they just got better and better.”
Gala, who regained some cheer from a season which saw them relegated from the BT Premiership, steamrolled through Langholm (54-5) in the opening round before needing every ounce of energy to navigate their way past a tough Jed-Forest (19-22) in the second round.
In the other early round contests, hosts Hawick defeated Kelso (38-12), Edinburgh Accies overcame Peebles (35-0), Darlington eased past Biggar (40-0), Boroughmuir beat Lasswade (27-7), Hamilton defeated Selkirk (40-12), Jed-Forest saw off Berwick (52-0) and Watsonians upset Melrose (35-5).
Round two saw Hawick fall to Edinburgh Accies (20-22) in a preview of their BT Premiership relegation play-off, while Darlington knocked-out Boroughmuir (29-5) and Watsonains dispatched Hamilton (49-5).
In the first of the semi-finals, Gala bested Edinburgh Accies – winners of the Netherdale club’s own tournament a fortnight ago and valiant competitors against eventual Melrose Sevens victors Harlequins last weekend – in what turned out to be a relatively simple 39-10 win.
Tries from Fraser Hunter, Paul Hendry, Harry Borthwick, Ross Coombe and a brace from Craig Robertson sealed the win for the Maroons, while Accies’ points came via Robbie Chalmers and Ben Appleson.
In semi-final two, Watsonians surprised everyone by taking down English professionals Darlington Mowden Park (26-21).
The final was a back-and-forth affair, with neither side able to hold on to their respective leads.
The Maroons made a blistering start when Graham Speirs sprinted clear to open the scoring early on, before Rory Steele and Ali Harris handed the Myreside club a 10-7 lead.
Gregor Hunter and Craig Robertson then responded for Gala to give the Netherdale outfit a 19-10 half-time advantage.
After the break, a try and conversion from Harris reduced Gala’s lead to two points, only for Paul Hendry to extend the Maroons’ lead, with Hunter converting.
Watsonians were able to remain within striking distance through a Michael Fedo touchdown, but Gala managed to hold on to secure their first 2017 King of the Sevens tournament win. Results:
First round – Jed-Forest 52, Berwick 0; Gala 54, Langholm 5; Hawick 38, Kelso 12; Edinburgh Accies 35, Peebles 0; Darlington 40, Biggar 0; Boroughmuir 27, Lasswade 7; Watsonians 35, Melrose 5; Selkirk 12, Hamilton 40.
Second round: Jed-Forest 19, Gala 22; Hawick 20, Edinburgh Accies 22; Darlington 29, Boroughmuir 5; Watsonians 49, Hamilton 5.
Semi-finals – Gala 39, Edinburgh Accies 10; Darlington 21, Watsonians 26.
Final – Gala 26, Watsonians 24.