Peebles’ runaway train is back on track

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IF YOU had put money on Peebles playing in the final of their own Sevens competition against Edinburgh Accies at the start of the tournament you would certainly have been given very long odds by the bookies.

With Selkirk, Jed-Forest and Melrose running away with the points so far, and fielding strong teams at the Peebles event, you would have thought at least one of them would make the final.

But Peebles were superb, racking up 93 points in their first two ties to reach the semi-finals.

It really was a gutsy team effort led by Dale Clancy, Drew Moore and David and Donald Anderson, who provided the experience in the side.

They saw off Haddington 47-5 in the first round and then got rid of Musselburgh 46-14 in the quarter-final.

Their first big test came in the semi-final against much fancied Selkirk, who earlier beat Biggar and Hawick.

But, inspired by the home support, Peebles continued their scorefest with 27 points – more than enough to better the 12 accumulated by the Souters who were fielding a quality side.

That match put them into the final of their own tournament – and the chance to win the event for the first time since 2002.

Edinburgh Accies’ path to the final came via a 33-12 win against Hawick YM before sneaking past Gala 26-24 in the quarter-final and then shocking Kings leaders Jed-Forest with the last move of the game to win 31-26. Jed were favourites after knocking out Melrose 26-19 in the quarter-finals.

Melrose fielded a full-strength side just a day after clinching the Scottish Championship with a win over Ayr. Full credit goes to the club for this commitment.

Last year, Melrose won the tournament and Callum Anderson was player of the event. This year, his brother Donald was voted top player and their mother presented the trophy. His hat-trick helped Peebles to a 34-12 victory.

Dale Clancy scored a couple of tries, with Drew Moore also crossing to help his team win and move to fourth in the table with four events to go.

Jed still lead with 40 points, Selkirk have 32, and Melrose have 28 in third place.

“It’s been well worth the nine-year wait,” said a delighted Clancy afterwards, while coach Gary Parker couldn’t contain his excitement.

“If anyone asks me who won the Peebles Sevens tonight they wouldn’t believe the answer,” he said. “But it was a fantastic performance from the boys. We don’t have an out-and-out flyer, but we played well as a team and we’re learning all the time about the game of sevens.”

The weather was very kind to the well-organised tournament, with temperatures reaching 23 degrees early on, and if Peebles can take this form into the next two events at Kelso and Earlston at the weekend, they may yet have a say in where this year’s Kings of the Sevens title goes.