AFTER just four of the 10 rounds in the Kings of the Sevens series, Jed-Forest are now 14 points clear of Melrose with 34 points, with Hawick third (13) and Heriot’s on 12.
It is still too early to say that Jed will not be caught, but they are certainly in the driving seat, having made all four finals so far and winning two of them.
With 10 points for the winners of each tournament there’s still plenty of rugby left, and with some excellent sides going out in round one, in tough fixtures, anything can still happen in this year’s competition.
But Jed are playing some excellent rugby.
Speaking after helping his team to their second Kings victory, at Berwick Sevens on Sunday, Jed playmaker Iain Chisholm told TheSouthern: “We’ve come in for some criticism for our performances at the Hawick and Melrose finals, but we showed we have character and we’re delighted about what we did today to come back from 7-21 down against Melrose to beat them.”
In the two previous events Jed beat Melrose at the semi final stage in close games, and the final of the Scremerston tournament was to prove even closer. Nick McGrath put ’Rose ahead after a few seconds following an exquisite break by Andrew Skeen, but there was no further scoring until the end of the first 10 minutes when Ross Goodfellow tied the scores with a try on the right. Michael Weekley and Joe Helps had been yellow-carded moments earlier for a bit of nonsense.
Skeen and Chisholm found the target in converting all tries in the final, proving the importance of having a quality kicker in your side.
The second half began with Helps finding a gap down the centre to touch down and give Melrose the lead, and this was extended two minutes later when Bruce Colvine wrong-footed the defence to glide in under the posts.
This was the point where Jed had to dig deep and they did so.
Keeping the ball in hand and being patient, they finally found a way to unlock Melrose’s good defence and Chisholm was on the end of a long pass to pick up and go in for the try.
They still had work to do, and again, patience paid off. Chisholm again was key in keeping the ball and waiting for the right opportunity. From nowhere, up popped Lewis Young to take the pass and run in under the posts.
Referee Iain Heard blew the whistle and for the third time in the tournament we were looking at a sudden-death situation.
Both teams were out on their feet after big efforts in earlier ties, but they found that something extra to face each other for one last minute or two of rugby with so much resting on it.
At the restart, Jed gathered and ran the ball along the line in their own 22.
Darren Gillespie took play up to their own 10m line and flicked a pass to speedy skipper Gregor Young, who sprinted 60m for the winning score. His team-mates piled on top of him and they had successfully defended the Berwick Sevens title.
Jed had earlier beaten an excellent Berwick side, who had previously put out Selkirk and Murrayfield, in the semi final, while Heriot’s caused problems for sides early on (including Hawick and Hawick YM) before crumbling to Melrose in the latter stages of their semi.
The circus rolls on to Langholm and Peebles next weekend where another top performance from Jed-Forest could see them cement their position as tournament favourites, but Melrose should be back to full strength and will be gunning for points.
You can watch exclusive TV highlights of the Berwick final at www.BordersRugby.net