Heartbreak for hosts Melrose in sevens final

Ross McCann scores in the final for Melrose against Watsonians (picture by Alwyn Johnston)
Ross McCann scores in the final for Melrose against Watsonians (picture by Alwyn Johnston)

There was disappointment for Melrose as their home sevens tournament was wrenched from their grasp in the final seconds on Saturday.

A late try in the final by Watsonians was debated for a long time during the short game - but it was awarded, which gave the Edinburgh men victory by 19 points to 14.

An estimated crowd of around 5000-6000 was at the Greenyards on a very pleasant day and they were treated to some excellent rugby from a colourful assortment of invited sides from overseas, including Poland and USA.and around Scotland.

The Borders teams fell like skittles early on, with Melrose the only local squad still standing after the second-round stage.

The hosts looked strong all the way through – although their captain and head coach admitted they may well have saved their weakest performance for the final.

There were rich displays also from Currie Chieftains, USA Tigers, two Edinburgh sides, and Marr, relegated from the BT Premiership but who reached the semi-finals.

Melrose entered at the round two stage and went through 27-0 against Boroughmuir, with tries from Bruce Colvine, Ian Moody, Craig Jackson (2) and Ross McCann.

In the quarter-final, Melrose faced Currie Chieftains, who had looked particularly strong in the early stages. The Malleny Park men scored first but Melrose went on to win 31-5, with good work with the conversion boot by Craig Jackson complementing tries from Grant Runciman, George Taylor (2), Austin Lockington and Patrick Anderson.

The semi-final against Edinburgh Accies got off to an ominous start with a yellow card for Fraser Thomson, but he scored a try after he returned to add to an earlier one by Lockington, both of which were converted. Ross McCann added a couple more in the second half and Patrick Anderson another for a 27-0 win, with Jason Baggott sent late to the naughty step for a deliberate knock on, although many felt he hadn’t even touched the ball.

Watsonians did the early attacking in the final - which was trimmed from 10 minutes each way to seven - and Scott McKean put them in front with a try, converted by Ali Harris.

There was a chance of an overlap, and another try for Watsonians ,in the corner but McCann made a try-saving tackle on McKean. McCann then delighted the home support by levelling the scores at 7-7 before half time with a try from a weaving run in a move involving Runciman and Jackson, who converted the score.

Watsonians struck again early in the second half with a very good try by Rory Steele, converted by Harris, but a great move saw Moody feed McCann for another try for Melrose, with Jackson’s extras levelling it at 14-14.

Then, with seconds remaining, Watsonians’ Charlie McKill crossed the line after being tackled and, after some deliberation, the referee and touch judge ruled he had not put his foot in touch when he grounded the ball - and so the Ladies Centenary Trophy was on its way to Myreside.

Skipper Grant Runciman said: “We played really well up until that final game. We just didn’t take our chances and they took theirs. But the support has been brillaint – they got right behind us and I am just gutted that we couldn’t get the win for them.

He added: “We made two or three mistakes, especially in the first half, which just killed us. It seemed to be the shortest game of the day, that one, but Watsonians played well. Fair play to them – they were better than us in the last game.”

Head coach Rob Chrystie said: “It’s a great achievement to get to the final but I am gutted for the boys. I thin credit to Watsonians – they played the best game of the tournament and I think we just couldnt get enough ball in that final. It’s very difficult in sevens if you’ve not got the ball.

“We’re really disappointed not to get over the line – it’s hard to win Melrose Sevens and everybody knows that. That’s why it’s so nice to get that trophy in your cabinet.”

Chrystie added the Greenyards lads would dust themselves down and prepare themselves for the BT Cup final against Stirling County at Murrayfield on April 28.