Maroons make it two from three at Berwick tournament

Berwick RFC host Kings of the 7s tournament
Berwick RFC host Kings of the 7s tournament

Gala extended their lead in the 2015 Kings of the Sevens after winning the Berwick tournament at Scremerston with a 30-17 victory over Edinburgh Accies.

The Maroons know, however, that with seven rounds remaining, consistency will be key to success this season.

Berwick RFC host Kings of the 7s tournament

Berwick RFC host Kings of the 7s tournament

The Berwick club had avoided the hassle of ‘no shows’ that has bedevilled this tournament in the past, by opting for a 12 team format with four pools of three.

In the event Hawick, fielding several players who had experienced the agony of cup final defeat a day earlier, emerged from Pool One after wins over Edinburgh University and Berwick.

Pool Two looked to be a contest between Edinburgh Accies and Selkirk and in the crucial tie between the two sides it was the Raeburn Place men who prevailed with a 22-14 win over the Souters.

With Gala and Watsonians drawn together in Pool Three another close contest was expected, but in the match that mattered Gala edged out the Myresiders by 19-14.

Berwick RFC host Kings of the 7s tournament

Berwick RFC host Kings of the 7s tournament

And then there was Pool Four which by the ‘luck of the draw’ brought together Melrose, Jed-Forest and Kelso. First up was Melrose against Kelso, the expectation being that the Greenyards side would be too strong for the Poynder Park men. That might have been the case had Melrose not been forced to play most of the tie with only six men after flanker Neil Irvine-Hess was red carded for allegedly kicking Kelso’s Dom Buckley on the head, the resulting wound requiring stitching. Six against seven – Kelso won the tie 17-7. But then came the shock of the afternoon as Kelso hit their best form so far this season to topple title contenders Jed with a 29-14 win.

In the first of the semi-final ties, Hawick scored tries by Sean Fairbairn, John Coutts and Mike McKee, but it was not enough to prevent Accies winning by 24-19 to book their place in the final against Gala, who had touchdowns from David O’Hagan (2), Craig Dods (2), Craig Robertson and Jamie Parker in their 36-19 win, Kelso’s tries having come from Ally Grieve (2) and Buckley.

Gala went into the final as favourites and seemed to confirm that status with a brace of tries by Robertson and one by Ruairi Howarth answered by touchdowns from Jack Marples and Jamie Winks. Then, in the second half, O’Hagan added to his tally with a further two tries while Gregor Hunter, who played for Glasgow Warriors at Melrose a week earlier, completed the Gala scoring. Accies’ only try in the second half came from Alex Godsmark to leave the Maroons 30-17 winners.

“What we’ve got is a lot of pace and you can’t substitute for that,” said Gala coach Chris Dalgleish.

“We’ve got 10 guys who can run off the ball as well as with it and it’s shown in the ties. We were pleased to have Gregor Hunter playing. He’s a Gala boy. He knows the club very well and he wants to play some rugby. He’s fitted in well.

“We knew this was a big weekend for us, because we knew the draw was going to put either Melrose or Jed out early. We didn’t expect Jed to go out without having to play them,” admitted Dalgleish.

Gala: A. Emond, F. Hunter, S. Wilkinson, C. Dods, R. Howarth, J. Parker, G. Spiers, C. Robertson and D. O’Hagan.