But the Maroons know that with seven rounds remaining consistency will be key to success this season.
The Berwick club had avoided the hassle of ‘no shows’ that has bedevilled this tournament in the past, by opting for a 12-team format with four pools of three with the winners of each pool progressing to the semi finals.
In the event Hawick, fielding several players who had experienced the agony of cup final defeat a day earlier, emerged from Pool 1 after wins over Edinburgh University and the hosts, Berwick.
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Pool 2 looked to be a contest between Edinburgh Accies and Selkirk and in the crucial tie between the two sides it was the Raeburn Place men who prevailed with a 22-14 over the Soutars.
With Gala and Watsonians drawn together in Pool 3 another close contest was expected but in the match that mattered Gala edged out the Myresiders by 19-14, to book their place in the second of the semi-finals.
And then there was Pool 4 which, by the ‘luck of the draw’ brought together Melrose, Jed-Forest and Kelso. First up was Melrose against Kelso, the expectation being that the Greenyards side would be too strong for the Poynder Park men.
That might have been the case had Melrose not been forced to play most of the tie with only six men after flanker Neil Irvine-Hess was red carded for allegedly kicking Kelso’s Dom Buckley on the head, the resulting wound requiring stitching. Six against seven? Kelso won the tie 17-7. But then came the shock of the afternoon as Kelso hit their best form so far this season to topple Jed-Forest with a 29-14 win.
Then in the first of the semi final ties, Hawick scored tries by Sean Fairbairn, John Coutts and Mike McKee but it was not enough to prevent Accies winning by 26-17 to book their place in the final against Gala whose had touchdowns from David O’Hagan (2), Craig Dods (2),Craig Robertson and Jamie Parker in their 36-19 win, Kelso’s tries having come from Ally Grieve (2) and Buckley.
Gala went into the final as favourites and seemed to confirm that status with a brace of tries by Robertson and one by Ruairi Howarth answered by touchdowns from Jack Marples and Jamie Winks. Then in the second half O’Hagan added to his tally of tries with a further two while Gregor Hunter, who played for Glasgow Warriors at Melrose a week earlier, completed the Gala scoring, Accies only try in the second half coming from Alex Godsmark to leave Gala winners by 30-17.
“What we’ve got is a lot of pace and you can’t substitute for that. We’ve got ten guys who can run off the ball as well as with it and it’s shown in the ties” said the Gala coach, Chris Dalgleish, adding: “ We were pleased to have Gregor Hunter playing. He’s a Gala boy. He knows the club very well and he wants to play some rugby. He’s fitted in well.
“We knew this was a big weekend for us, because we knew the draw was going to put either Melrose or Jed out early. We didn’t expect Jed to go out without having to play them.” admitted Dalgleish.
Pool 1: Berwick 14 Edinburgh University 5, Berwick 14 Hawick 22, Hawick 43 Edinburgh Univ 7.
Pool 2: Selkirk 45 Duns 0, Selkirk 14 Edinburgh Accies 22, Edinburgh Accies 61 Duns 7
Pool 3: Gala 31 Peebles 0, Gala 19 Watsonians 14, Watsonians 41 Peebles 5 Pool 4 Melrose 7 Kelso 17 , Melrose 21 Jed-Forest 22, Jed-Forest 14 Kelso 29
Semi-final: Hawick 19 Edin Accies 24, Gala 36 Kelso 19
Final: Edinburgh Accies 17 Gala 30
Accies: M Fedo, R Snape, J Winks, C Ramm, J Marples, N Armstrong, L Taylor, K Scoular, A Godsmark, M Love
Gala: A Emond, F Hunter, S Wilkinson, C Dods, R Howarth, J Parker, G Spiers, C Robertson, D O’Hagan
Referee G Fairnbairn