Harlequins 31, Melrose 19
Melrose came very close to the glory of winning their own Sevens tournament at the Greenyards on Saturday, but were thwarted late on by the visiting professional side from the Aviva Premiership.
It was a perfect day weather-wise, with a large appreciative crowd and the BBC2 Scotland television cameras capturing the bulk of the action from the 126th staging of the world’s oldest sevens tournament.
In the final itself – featuring 10 minutes of play each way, as opposed to the regular seven minutes – Charlie Walker gave the visitors an early lead with a try, despite Neil Irvine-Hess making a tackle.
A strong feature of the play which carried Quins to the final had been their defence, but it was breached after two and a half minutes. Quins were looking for a loose ball but a counter-ruck put captain Bruce Colvine in for a try, which was converted by Craig Jackson.
An element of luck shaded a try for Callum Waters of Harlequins, when his kick was charged down by Jackson but bounced straight back into his arms, and he galloped on to score easily. Waters converted his own try to put Harlequins 12-7 ahead.
A good, flowing move from Melrose saw Austin Lockington power towards the line for what looked a certain score, but he was the victim of a high tackle by Sam Asplano Robinson. A penalty try was awarded and Robinson was ordered to the sin bin, while the easy conversion by Jackson nudged Melrose 14-12 ahead.
Shortly before the break, Charlie Walker broke from deep in his own half and also looked certain to score, but dogged attention from Patrick Anderson prevented him from grounding the ball, with the Melrose man managing to hold it up and avert at least five points.
Bruce Colvine was yellow-carded in the second half for a late challenge. Later, Melrose looked to be working a good move but Jonas Mikalcius won an interception on the turnover and displayed pace and power for a try, converted by Walker, which gave the lead back to Quins at 19-14.
Dino Lamb then scored a try from the left flank for the visitors but his conversion attempt hit the post. A fine side-stepping move by Lockington looked promising for Melrose, but Colvine knocked on and the move broke down.
A long-distance charge by Max Coyle looked likely to hand Harlequins another score but Tythan Adams, filling on from Selkirk on behalf of the injured Iain Moody, sent the Quins man into touch almost on the line with a fine tackle.
Two minutes from time, Murdo McAndrew hauled it back to 19-24 with a try for Melrose but Jackson missed the extras, and Charlie Walker put the seal on Harlequins’ victory – their first since 1987 – by scoring and converting a try after another Melrose move had broken down.
Results from the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens:
First round: Marr 15, Kelso 17; Currie 19, Gala 12; Glasgow Hawks 22, Stirling County 26; Hawick 7, GHA 35; Stewart’s Melville 14, Selkirk 20; Dundee 19 Ayr 5; Boroughmuir 33, Peebles 14; Heriot’s 31, Falkirk 14.
Second round: Kelso 7, Watsonians 27; Currie 15, Jed-Forest 10; Stirling County 19, Edinburgh Accies 40; GHA 0, Harlequins 36; Selkirk 20, GSI VII 14; Dundee 19, Melrose 31; Boroughmuir 5, Co-Optimists 22; Heriot’s 14, Sweden 31.
Quarter-finals: Watsonians 17, Currie 7; Edinburgh Accies 22, Harlequins 29; Selkirk 12, Melrose 24; Co-optimists 36, Sweden 5.
Semi-finals: Watsonians 12, Harlequins 40; Melrose 21, Co-Optomists 19.
Final: Harlequins 31, Melrose 19
Final squads – Melrose: Nyle Godsmark, Jason Baggott, Bruce Colvine, Patrick Anderson, Austin Lockington, Sam Pecquer, Neil Irvine-Hess, Craig Jackson, Murdo McAndrew, Tythan Adams; Iain Moody.
Harlequins: Luc Jones, Dino Lamb, Archie White, Jonas Mikalcius, Gabriel Ibitoye, James Lang, Sam Aspland Robinson, Max Coyle, Callum Waters, Charlie Walker.