Owing to factors beyond their control, Melrose RFC have had a delayed start to their Kings of the Sevens challenge this season.
But, at Poynder Park last Saturday the Greenyards men showed they mean business this season by sweeping to victory in the Kelso tournament, with a substantial win over Gala in the final.
This win was Melrose’s first Kings of the Sevens title this season, lifting them to fourth place in the overall standings.
What was surprising was not so much their win but the margins of victory achieved by the Melrose squad in all four rounds, and especially in the semi-final and final.
“Even in the semi-final we were quite taken aback by far ahead we were,” said skipper Bruce Colvine.
“ We just stuck to our structures and it worked out on the day.
“There are boys in this team, like Richard Mill, Andrew Nagle, Nyle Godsmark and some of the bigger lads, who can run all day. So the fitness side is a big factor for us.
“We had a tough first round against Jed. But, in the Kings of the Sevens, you have to be ready early in any tournament for what comes at you.
“ We come switched on and the boys know the challenges when we first arrive.”
Melrose, playing without their Scotland under-20 squad members, looked the likely winners after knocking out the Kings’s leaders, Jed-Forest, in the first round and then disposing of Boroughmuir in the quarter-finals with a 33-7 win.
But it was in the second of the semi-finals that Melrose really showed their title-winning credentials by overwhelming a Watsonians seven that has performed well on the Borders circuit.
Try doubles by Richard Mill and Jason Baggott helped the Greenyards men to an unexpectedly high 52-5 win over the Myreside team.
Gala, meanwhile, came through the top half of the draw by defeating Hawick 24-19, after extra time, in the first round before producing a a startling 41-12 victory over Edinburgh Accies in the quarters. Then, in the semi-finals, Gala had too much pace for hosts Kelso in their 24-7 win.
In the final, Gala struck first with a Keith Young try but, thereafter, it was Melrose who dominated, with fast sevens rugby that gave them a 29-5 interval lead with tries from Ally Grieve, Richard Mill, Fraser Thomson and Bruce Colvine.
Then, despite a try for Gala by Rex Jeffrey after the break, Melrose piled on the scores as Bruce Colvine completed his hat-trick and player of the tournament Richard Mill his brace for a 57-19 victory. Gala gained some consolation with a late try by George Graham.
Elsewhere, Selkirk, Hawick and Jed-Forest all suffered first-round defeats – a fate that also befell Howe of Fife, who had travelled from Cupar.
Melrose: A. Grieve, R. Mill, A. Nagle, B. Colvine, I. Chisholm (Jed), N. Godsmark, F. Thomson, J. Helps, D. Colvine, J. Baggott.
Gala: G. Young, S. Cairns, L. Mallin (Kelso), G. Lott, R. Jeffrey, I. Moodie (Boroughmuir), K. Young, E. Scott, G. Graham, A Mitchell.
Results: final Gala 19, Melrose 57. semi-finals Kelso 7, Gala 24; Melrose 52, Watsonians 5. quarter-finals Dundee High 0, Kelso 33; Edinburgh Accies 12, Gala 41; Boroughmuir 7, Melrose 33; Powerbombs 7, Watsonians 28.
first round Dundee High 29, Lasswade 7; Kelso 38, Langholm 7; Edinburgh Accies 29, Selkirk 19; Gala 24, Hawick 19 (aet) ; Bor’muir 38, President’s Seven 5 ; Jed-Forest 7, Melrose 24; Powerbombs 22, Howe of Fife 7; Peebles 0, Watsonians 52.