A win for Gala in their own sevens tournament kicked off the 2013 Kings season on just the right note.
It was the first time the Maroons had lifted their own trophy since 1995 and they deserved their win with a 38-12 defeat of Hawick in the final.
Lifting his first sevens trophy, captain Gary Graham admitted to being speechless after a highly entertaining Borders derby finale.
He said: “I just can’t put into words right now how much winning this trophy means to us. It came down to hard work, determination and grit, and to beat Hawick by so much was really satisfying for the whole squad.
“Personally, this was my first sevens win and I hope we can pick up a few more in the coming weeks.”
Playing in the new pool format, which proved popular with the players, Gala won their section by beating Currie and Kelso, before coming from behind to beat Edinburgh Accies 17-14 in the semi-final.
In the semis, Hawick overcame a strong, and highly fancied, Heriot’s team who earlier had beaten pro side Edinburgh Rugby. The win came at a price however as the Greens lost key player Gary Johnstone with what looked like a very nasty ankle injury, leaving them to draft in Heriot’s Max Learmonth for the final.
Even so, Hawick drew first blood against Gala when John Coutts won the foot race to the ball to touch down.
Hawick took the restart, but pressure from the hosts allowed the prolific Euan Dods to win the ball before shipping out to Chris Auld, who trotted in for the try. Lee Millar converted to take Gala ahead.
More pressure from the restart saw Hawick caught in possession behind their own line, forcing a kick which was collected by George Graham, who offloaded to Grant Somerville to cross in the corner. The Greens levelled after Gala conceded a penalty on the 10m line. Rory Hutton did a quick tap and go and ran three quarters of the pitch before surrendering the ball to Keith Davies who completed an impressive break by going in under the posts for a score which he converted himself.
The end-to-end action continued and just before the halfway stage, Gala edged themselves in front again when captain Graham demonstrated a superb hand-off to force his way over and make it 19-12.
At that stage it still looked as though it could be anyone’s game, but the hosts were keen to come out after the restart and take total control.
Craig Keddie made a telling break from a scrum before offloading to Gavin Young, who touched down under the posts for Millar to convert. Hawick went back on the attack, but with Gala in their faces it was never going to be easy. A knock-on gifted the Teries another go, but this time they were stopped by the force of George Graham, who put in a belter of a tackle five metres from his own line.
Back in possession, Gala didn’t waste any time and when Somerville received a pass, which looked to most to be suspiciously forward, he didn’t need invited twice to run in at the corner.
Once again, the restart ball was secured by Dods, who passed to Ben Murray who, in turn, breezed through the Hawick defence and cruised in under the posts, converting himself, to mark the end of the scoring and the start of the celebrations in what had been a most entertaining tournament.
Prior to the final, the Plate and Bowl competitions were played to a conclusion, with the second and third-placed teams from each pool having a chance to bag some silverware. Melrose and Edinburgh rugby were each winners of their respective groups.