THE last time Edinburgh Accies appeared in the final of the Melrose Sevens was in 1949 when they beat Stewart’s FP by 8-5. Despite the vocal support of almost every fan packed into the Greenyards, this young Accies team were unable to match their illustrious predecessors, going down 47-14 to a powerful Glasgow Warriors team in a one-sided final.
Glasgow fielded Niko Matawalu, Carlin “the fastest man in rugby” Isles, pictured inset, and Mark Bennett. Against them Accies could boast several Scotland sevens players in Scott Riddell, Alex Glashsan and Chris Deans who was the stand out player of the tournament.
Accies had only conceded three tries leading up to this final but they were powerless to halt the Warriors strike runners who scored five in the first half and another two tries after the break to steal the silverware.
Glasgow opened the scoring from Rory Hughes after a break by Matawalu.
Alex Blair hit back for Accies but Bennett, with the help of a hand-off, scored Glasgow’s second touchdown. Jamie Farndale spilled a clever cross-field kick from Glashan and Glasgow made good use of the error to score another three first-half tries from Lee Jones (2) and Hughes again to leave Accies a mountain to climb.
Sam Pecquer got one back for Accies early in the second half but the extra game was beginning to tell on amateur legs and lungs. Sure enough Glasgow grabbed further scores from Isles and appropriately skipper Scott White, the local lad earning a well-deserved cheer.
There is always some poor players who travel half way around the world only to get knocked out in the very first round and yesterday the Global Warming Award for the unnecessary production of carbon went to two invitation sides from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
The USA Tigers were a little unlucky to come across an inspired Heriot’s side in the first round. Murray Douglas won the aerial battles, Michael Maltman won the physical collisions and Heriot’s ran out 29-28 winners despite the fact that Tigers boasted one of the quickest men of the tournament in flyer Perry Baker.
Heriot’s eventually booked their place in the first semi-final thanks to victory over Boroughmuir only to get knocked out at the semi-final stage by Glasgow’s professionals who scored six tries in all, two to Isles, to halt Heriot’s run.
USA Tigers lost and returned straight back home but at least the SMT Trinbago side had the consolation of playing several tournaments on this trip after they too were sent packing from the Greenyards after just 14 minutes of rugby.
This time it was Boroughmuir who did the damage, two tries to one, with Murray Johnstone scoring the best of them after selling the dummy of the day.
The third invitation side did a little better but only just. Hawks were leading Clermont by 21-19 with 30 seconds left on the clock only for Killian Handaoui to go the length of the field for the French giants on the last play of the game.
Clermont were then well beaten by Edinburgh Accies in the quarter-final. The young Edinburgh team had too much pace and intelligence although Alex Blair also needed a little luck for one score. The flyhalf had to rescue his own wayward pass, a canny move that wrong-footed the Frenchmen. Blair scorched up the left flank, crossed the try line and only then did he pass inside to Ian Chisholm who scored under the posts. The extra two points proved utterly irrelevant as Accies scored five tries to finish 35-12 winners.
The Border clubs always bring their best to the Greenyards although the host team was their only side to representative in the semi-finals. Melrose progressed after a ding-dong affair with Selkirk that was a lot closer than the 26-5 final score suggests. Hawick and Gala knocked lumps out of each other with the men in green the last ones standing. That saw Hawick through to the quarter-final where they were sent packing by the hosts but only after James Johnson was stretchered off the field with a nasty looking leg injury. Melrose lost to Accies in the semi-final by four tries to one.
Earlier in the day, Accies had seen off city rivals Watsonians with embarrassing ease. Edinburgh signing Dean is following Richie Vernon by making the switch from the backrow to the midfield and he proved his pace by leaving the Watsons’ defence for dead. Ayr came to grief against a Warriors team with the two teams fielding players who know each other all too well. To the surprise of many, Gregor Townsend opted to play Niko Matawalu in Glasgow’s Melrose sevens squad rather than send the little Fijian to Ireland to play Munster in yesterday’s all-important RaboDirect tie. That decision undoubtedly helped Glasgow Warriors lift the Ladies Cup for the first ever time.