Defending champions Melrose secured their fourth tournament win this season with victory at Peebles last Sunday and now look unstoppable in pursuit of the coveted crown.
The Greenyards men looked to be on a different plane in the final against an admittedly understrength Hawick team, forced to ‘borrow’ players as cover for the injured Greg Cottrell, Rory Scott and Sean Fairbairn, as they swept to a sumptuous 45-17 win.
Undoubtedly, one factor in the Melrose success in this Kings of the Sevens campaign is the strength in depth of their squad.
You might think that without stalwarts Graham Dodds, his brother Alan, Bruce Colvine and Grant Runciman, Melrose would have suffered.
But the form of Tom Wilson, Dave Colvine, and Ross Ovens, not to mention Lewis Mallin at the Peebles tournament, merely confirmed the enviable sevens resources available to coach John Dalziel.
“If you look at who’s come out of the squad through injury over the course of the Kings of the Sevens, there’s quite a few guys not playing,” said Dalziel.
“I thought Dave Colvine and Tom Wilson were outstanding today.
“Sevens is a great chance to give these young guys experience and move them on to fifteens next season.”
Dalziel also pointed to another key aspect of Melrose’s play when he said: “I’ve not seen a Melrose team that are willing to work so hard. I think a lot of what we’ve done this year has come out of good defensive work. There’s just no weak links there.
“Richard Mill’s work-rate in the tackle is fantastic. The important thing is they’re working as a team and not going on their own missions. I think we can be better if we’re realistic,” predicted the Melrose coach.
If Melrose had a regal look in their quest for the Kings of the Sevens crown, then elsewhere there was not the same focused approach to a tournament which at times lacked quality, suggesting that what many consider as the insane decision to have back-to-back tournaments on three consecutive weekends is already taking its toll.
Nor was the Kings title race helped by what appeared to be an unseeded draw that matched Edinburgh Accies and Watsonians together in the first round.
But Peebles are to be commended for reaching out to Orkney and indeed Howe of Fife – welcome guests who added a vital difference to the tournament.
If Melrose had it easy in the final, the likely champions were given a tough test in their opening tie against Selkirk before winning 26-12. Then, in the quarter-final, Melrose faced another stiff examination against Watsonians, who had dismissed Edinburgh Accies in the first round. Two tries by the irrepressible Austin Lockington and one by Callum Anderson ensured Melrose progressed to the semi-finals with a 19-7 win.
Thereafter it was something of a romp for Melrose as the Greenyards men ran in five tries against surprise semi-finalists Boroughmuir, while showing their defensive qualities too, by denying the Meggetland side any points whatsoever.
Hawick had come through the bottom half of the draw with a more than comfortable 42-12 win over an out-of-sorts Jed side and then a quarter-final win over Orkney by 31-12. In the semi-final Hawick had to work hard to overcome the host club before winning 17-5 with tries from Gary Johnstone (2) and Lee Armstrong to one for Peebles by Canadian Dylan Mundy.
In the final it was Melrose all the way in the first half as tries from Ovens, Lockington and Wilson (2) established a 24-0 interval lead. Then touchdowns from Joe Helps and Mallin (2) completed the job, Hawick’s response coming from tries scored byArmstrong, Keith Davies and Orcadian Tom Croy.