Another bumper crowd turned out at the Greenyards on Saturday as the 2014 Kings circuit arrived at the birthplace of the seven-a-side game.
And, as a spectacle, the tournament did not fail to please, with entertainment and colour in abundance both on and off the pitch.
Glasgow Warriors’ star-studded squad of IRB 7s international players were red-hot favourites from the start and did nothing to dispel that status throughout the tournament. Led by former Greenyards man Scott Wight, the pro side breezed through their games to take the title at a canter, disposing of Currie, Ayr and Heriot’s before beating surprise package Edinburgh Accies in the final.
Speaking after lifting the Ladies Centenary Cup for the second time in his career, the first being with Melrose in 2011, Wight told The Southern: “There was a lot of expectation on us today, but we came here to do a job and I’m just pleased we were able to do it.
“We put in three good ties to get to the final and once we got into our stride we were able to keep the momentum going to see off some really strong challenges.”
It was Accies’ first Melrose 7s final since they won in 1949 and ex-Jed player Iain Chisholm played a key part in their squad.
One by one, the Borders sides fell, with the much-hyped overseas visitors not faring much better.
Langholm, Kelso and Peebles were all ousted in the preliminary round, with Jed-Forest, Gala and Selkirk falling in the second along with SMT Trinbago. The shock of the day was Heriot’s beating the much-fancied USA Tigers in the same round.
Hawick were the next Borders team to tumble when they went out to Melrose in the quater-finals, having put on a dogged performance in the previous round to beat Gala 17-12.
Last years runners-up Clermont Auvergne also fell at this hurdle, to an invigorated Edinburgh Accies outfit, leaving the Warriors as the sole survivors of the guest sides.
The semis proved very much one-sided affairs with Warriors and Accies proving too strong for Heriot’s and Melrose respectively.
Home supporters were heartened, however, when a keenly-fought women’s challenge match – between Melrose and Stirling County – saw the former run out winners, thanks to tries from Scotland Women’s Gillian Inglis, amongst others.
As predicted, the final was non-stop action from the off. An early break from the impressive Fijian Nikola Matawalu saw him saunter across the line then casually hand the ball to Rory Hughes to dot down for Glasgow, Scott Wight adding the extras.
Accies immediately came back with a well-worked run of passes into Nyle Godsmark’s hands, a sure-fire try going astray as the ball was fumbled over the line. Alex Blair was hot off the restart, however, to level the scores at 7-7. Glasgow turned up the gas as tries aplenty came from Mark Bennett, Lee Jones (2) and Rory Hughes, with Wight adding the extras, to make it 33-7 at half time.
Accies gamely held off Glasgow for much of the second half with Sam Pecqueur giving his all to break through the line and dot down in the corner with minutes to go to make it 33-14.
It was American speed king Carlin Isles who sealed Accies fate, however, in the final minute, with a glorious break up the wing to score, Folau Nuia trying his hand at converting to make the final score 40-14.
Melrose remain top of the Kings of the Sevens table with 15 points as the circuit moves to Hawick on Saturday.
First round: Stirling County 5 Jed-Forest 24; Currie 29 Stewart’s Melville 5; Dundee 10 Boroughmuir 17; Heriot’s FP 43 Langholm 0; Hawick 22 Howe of Fife 12; Aberdeen 12 Selkirk 20; Kelso 0 Edinburgh Accies 38; Glasgow Hawks 12 Peebles 10.
Second round: Jed-Forest 7 Ayr 12; Currie 10 Glasgow Warriors 36; Boroughmuir 10 SMT Trinbago 7; Heriot’s 29 USA Tigers 28; Hawick 17 Gala 12; Selkirk 5 Melrose 26; Edinburgh Accies 36 Watsonians 0; Glasgow Hawks 21 Clermont Auvergne 26.
Quarter-final: Ayr 10 Glasgow Warriors 34; Boroughmuir 17 Heriot’s 24; Hawick 10 Melrose 28; Edinburgh Accies 35 Clermont Auvergne 12.
Semi-final: Glasgow Warriors 38 Heriot’s 10; Melrose 5 Edinburgh Accies 22.
Final: Glasgow Warriors 47 Edinburgh Accies 14.
Kings of the sevens standings after two rounds: 1, Melrose 15 points; 2, Hawick 8; 3, Heriot’s 8; 4, Edinburgh Accies 7; 5, Watsonians 7; 6, Gala 5; 7, Selkirk 3; 8, Peebles 3; 9, Kelso 3.
Glasgow Warriors: J. Eddie, F. Brown, L. Jones, S. Wight, M. Bennett, N. Matawalu, R. Hughes, F. Gillies, C. Isles, F. Nuia.
Edinburgh Accies: N. Godsmark, S. Riddell, A. Glashan, I. Chisolm, A. Blair, J. Farndale, C. Dean, R. Godsmark, R. Bonner, S. Pecquer.