MELROSE, in unstoppable form at present, followed up their Saturday runaway victory with an equally impressive and totally dominating performance at the Gala sports the following day.
In commanding style, Melrose were halted only briefly on their way to the defence of their Kings of the Sevens title, and that was a brave effort by Jed-Forest in the semi-final.
But such was Melrose’s authority and confidence that they will start favourites at most tournaments this spring.
No-one stood out above the others in the Melrose squad, although John Dalziel’s domination of the kick-offs, and acute distribution of the ball, set up his teammates for try after try.
Fraser Thomson, who is attracting a lot of attention from other quarters, was as pacy a man as any on the field, and collected his share of Melrose’s abundant points.
Heriot’s were supposed to provide stout opposition in the final, but could never match Melrose for speed and support play.
They stood back from close encounters – a flaw that Jed-Forest did not allow to develop – and never looked like providing any sort of competition.
The Gala sports, sponsored by Beatson’s Building Supplies, was the first in this year’s series for the prized title of Kings of the Sevens. It was a well organised affair this year and the 16-team draw had something for everyone, with a few predictable exceptions.
With three Borders sides in the semi-finals the crowd, a big improvement on last year’s attendance, had a lot to support, but there were a few major failures along the way, Gala, Kelso, Berwick, Langholm going out quickly, followed by Peebles and Hawick in the next round.
The final saw Melrose pile on the points right from the off, with tries coming regularly through Allan Dodds, Callum Anderson, John Dalziel and Fraser Thomson before the break. Scott Wight added the extras, but Melrose were far from finished and scored again through Dodds, Anderson and Thomson, and another conversion by Wight.
Only when Melrose were getting down to thinking about repeating the performance at their own tournament did Heriot’s respond, collecting tries from Laurie Seydak and Max Learmonth, Graham Wilson converting one.
Earlier ties had seen Gala miss out against Hawick largely through missed conversions and a wrong option, but the Greens had lively performers in Gary Johnstone and Rory Hutton.
Johnstone’s two tries did most of the damage and Greg Anderson added one, but the Maroons responded through Gavin Young, Euan Dods and Bruce Dick.
Hawick were through, but were never in the hunt against Heriot’s, whose big Fijians were in powerful command until they ran out of steam later on against Melrose.
It was the Jed showing against Melrose that raised as much enthusiasm as the Gala-Hawick tie. Jed took Melrose on up front and scored one of the tries of the day when Donald Grieve took all the work on his own shoulders in a big solo effort.
A Fraser Thomson try was countered by one from Darren Gillespie that started at midfield and at 19-17 Jed were just down, but by no means out. But a long run by Callum Anderson ended the hopes of the Riverside men.
Selkirk had a young side out, but with a promising performance by Mike Davies and some robust play by Rob Taylor they did well to see off Edinburgh University, fancied by some to do as well as last spring.
But the power of Heriot’s was Selkirk’s undoing, even though they stuck in well in their tackling.
Kelso had reason on Saturday night to celebrate their Division Two survival and may have paid the price with a below-par showing against Falkirk. They suffered when the rain came to impair their handling, but despite Greg Ponton’s good try they dithered about a bit later on and paid the price.
Langholm are going through hard times at present, and despite opening the scoring through Niall Cubbon they served only to provide Heriot’s with some handling practice.
The gap between the best and the poorest of the Borders side is wide right now, and doesn’t look like getting any closer for some time yet.