Jed-Forest’s resolve to finish the sevens season with their second piece of silverware outlasted everyone else’s on Saturday afternoon.
Clinching their home title, the Royal Blues rounded off the AM/PM King of the Sevens series, already won by Gala, at Riverside Park.
The hosts finished second on the Kings table, one point above Hawick in third, in what has been one of the most successful sevens campaigns for the National League One side in a number of years.
“It’s one of the best feelings winning your own sevens,” said Jed captain, Lewis Young.
“With the crowd behind you, you dig a little deeper and obviously it worked for us today. The Jed tournament is a great way to round off the Kings series. Behind the international circuit the Kings is one of the best in the world and it’s been great being involved and winning on the series this season.”
Riding high after their Selkirk triumph a week ago, Jed kept up their winning form with a comprehensive first-round win over Musselburgh (34-0) before being pushed to the limit against Watsonians (21-17) in a tight quarter-final tie.
In the semi-final, Lewis Young grabbed an extra-time score to secure a 17-12 win over Gala in a frantic and physical contest that set up a final match-up against Hawick, who navigated the early rounds with ease. The Mansfield Park side beat Berwick (45-0) and Edinburgh Accies (34-5) before making short work of an impressive-looking Melrose squad (33-21) in the semi-final.
In the final, from the opening whistle, it became clear that neither team planned on holding back one bit. Both sides were physical in every duel and played with plenty of attacking intentions, leading to a wide-open, exciting contest. The action was fast and furious, both sides encountering razor-thin margins in a tight opening half.
The first real chance fell to Hawick inside 90 seconds, Greg Cottrell finding space in midfield before turning on the burners to race home, Matthew Douglas converting.
The home support, however, didn’t have long to wait for the equaliser. Fortune spun Jed’s way, as Gregor Young combined with brother Lewis, breaking a tackle and rushing home untouched to score betweenthe posts, Lewis converting.
Hawick continued to press and, with a midfield of Lee Armstrong, Scott McLeod and Douglas, they controlled possession with fluid ball movement.
With the midway break approaching, Sean Goodfellow collected the ball in space on the wing. The scrum half stop-started to leave the Jed defence on the back foot before launching into a gap and rushing home to score in the corner, handing Hawick a 12-7 half-time lead.
The starting seven from Jed represented what they do so well – the collective desire to read every possession for its best potential outcome, the willingness to pass up a decent chance for a better one and the commitment to play through the full cycle of options.
This is what endeared Saturday’s winning team to the rugby sevens purists in attendance and aesthetes who fell in love with their flowing ball speed around the pitch over the course of the tournament.
When it mattered most, in the most important possessions, Jed played with unrelenting force. The second-half belonged to them as they pounded Hawick’s defence relentlessly.
Lewis Young added two scores, both converted by the captain, before McLeod made the closing five minutes interesting, but the home side held on to secure a 21-17 victory.