Selkirk came very close to winning their own Kings of the Sevens tournament last Saturday – but it was Melrose who raised the trophy for the third time in four years.
The Greenyards men drew on strength and experience to defeat the hosts 29-24 in the final at Philiphaugh.
Selkirk manager Tom Ramage got it almost perfectly right when he said playing before their home crowd, and in front of their friends and families, could well bring the best out in his players, and he correctly predicted they might get to the semis and the final if they made a good start.
However, the Rose fended off a couple of Souters’ fightbacks in the final to stay on course for second place, behind Watsonians, in the overall Kings of the Sevens 2017 tournament, with the final round due at Jed-Forest tomorrow (Saturday).
The BT Premiership runners-up, Border League champions and BT Cup winners led 17-10 at the break, thanks to tries from Fraser Thomson, George Taylor and Campbell, while Darren Clapperton and Ciaran Whyte went over the line for Selkirk.
Further touchdowns from from Campbell, Neil Irvine-Hess and Craig Jackson sealed victory for Melrose, although the Souters gallantly cut the gap to 24-19 in the last minute with scores from Clapperton and Tythan Adams.
En route to the final, Selkirk got past Berwick, Boroughmuir and Powerbombs.
The Souters proved much too strong for a young Berwick side in their first outing of the afternoon, running in eight tries. Star man Tythan Adams opened the scoring in the first minute when he sidestepped a Berwick defender and burst clear, the try being converted by Darren Clapperton.
Further tries followed at regular intervals from Adams (2), Clapperton (3), Ross Nixon and Ciaran Whyte, making the final score 40-0.
Selkirk were again quick out of the blocks in their quarter-final tie with Boroughmuir. Ciaran Whyte broke a tackle and ran clear to score the game’s first try, converted by Clapperton. Boroughmuir replied with a converted try to make the halftime score 7-7.
After the break, an Adams try, converted by Clapperton, put Selkirk back in front, followed by a score from Josh Welsh. A brilliant take from Ciaran Whyte at the restart saw the hooker offload to Ewan MacDougall, with the ball being passed to Clapperton who ran in to finish a fantastic team effort. Josh Welsh then scored his second try of the match to see Selkirk safely home 29-7.
In the semi-final Selkirk were forced to come from behind against an impressive Powerbombs outfit, featuring ex-Selkirk player Callum Marshall. Down 14-0, the Souters finally found their feet and two successive tries from Adams brought them right back into contention.
Clapperton then took the ball inside Selkirk’s 22 and turned on the gas to sprint clear to put the Philiphaugh side into the lead, and with Welsh converting the kick it was 19-14.
Welsh then provided a try for Adams after he broke down the wing but was eventually tackled and threw the ball back to the South African who gathered and touched down on the line to complete an impressive comeback and take them into the final with a 24-14 win.
Afterwards, Melrose congratulated Selkirk on their Twitter page, saying: “Well done to Selkirk on a fantastic tournament and a great final.”
Souters boss Ramage said they had tried to counteract the Melrose threat in the final but “two rapid tries early on kind of put us away”.
He added: “I was chuffed for the boys – they put a lot of hard work into training during the week in the build-up to the Sevens.
“We just gave Melrose too much of a lead in the final – 17 points we just couldn’t claw back.
“We scored four tries and they scored four tries but their conversions were better than ours, hence the four points difference.”
Selkirk’s Tythan Adams returned home on Sunday to train with the South African sevens squad.
He took with him the best wishes from all at Philiphaugh, as he has been a stand-out player for the Souters this season. Results:
First round – Hawick 17, Edinburgh Accies 26; Jed-Forest 19, Powerbombs 24; Kelso 5, Boroughmuir 26; Selkirk 46, Berwick 0; Melrose 43, Peebles 0; GHA 24, Stewart’s Melville 0; Watsonians 38, Biggar 12; Gala 50, Langholm 0.
Second round – Edinburgh Accies 19, Powerbombs 33; Boroughmuir 7, Selkirk 29; Melrose 31, GHA 5; Watsonians 19, Gala 22.
Semi-finals – Powerbombs 14, Selkirk 24; Melrose 26, Gala 17. Final – Selkirk 24, Melrose 29.
Selkirk – E. MacDougall, C. Whyte, J. Welsh, M. Davies, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, T. Adams, G. Craig, M. Robertson, C. McEwan.
Melrose – A. Grieve, N. Irvine-Hess, B. Colvine, D. Colvine, C. Jackson, F. Thomson, G Taylor, N. Godsmark, G. Wood, R. Campbell.