Watsonians produced a devastating performance in front of a 6,000 crowd to snatch the Ladies Centenary Cup in the final of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Melrose sevens on Saturday at The Greenyards.
It was a fantastic afternoon for coach Mike Ker, a regular sevens exponent himself who has never been on a winning side as a player at the Melrose Sevens, but added: “It is just as good as a coach.
“We left the best to last. It took us time to get into our stride a bit, but the more we played, the better we got,” he said.
“We kept the ball, we were physical when we needed to be. We scored two late tries and the performance showed the character of the boys. They work hard for each other in defence and attack, and it was that final try in the semi-final which got us here.”
The win put holders Watsonians at the head of the Borders Kings of the Sevens series. “We now need to push on, starting at Hawick on Saturday,” Ker added.
It was the first time that the final lasted just seven minutes each way instead of the normal ten and offered at least some respite for the players after a gruelling afternoon.
Watsonians showed control, power and resilience to come from behind to defeat surprise semi-finalists Marr with a late try by Scott McKean and denied the hosts with another last-second score from Charlie McKill to lift the cup.
There was major disappointment in the Melrose camp despite a successful day off the field. “We are disappointed to get to the final and to have played so well,” said rugby director Mike Dalgetty.
“Watsonians were worthy winners. There was a huge effort from our boys but that is the way it goes. Overall it was a great day for the club.”
Captain Grant Runciman added: “We felt gutted at the end. Watsonians kept the ball better in the final.”
The teams turned round 7-7 in the final, with McKean and Ross McCann exchanging tries and Ali Harris and Craig Jackson adding the conversions.
Rory Steele and McCann again swapped tries after the break, and the game was evenly poised before McKill scored in the corner and was awarded the try after the referee consulted the touch judge…too late for any Melrose revival.
In the first of the semis, Melrose overpowered Edinburgh Accies and led 17-0 at half-time with tries from Austin Lockington, Fraser Thomson, who was also yellow-carded, and McCann.
Accies offered little after the break and Patrick Anderson’s try and McCann’s second eased the hosts into the final.
Marr proved the surprise side of the afternoon and it took a late try by McKean following scores by Harris and McKill to seal their final place – and this after Marr had led 14-0 at the break.
Earlier, Melrose outgunned Boroughmuir and swept aside Currie with a swashbuckling quarter-final win, Lockington scoring the final try in the last second.
The Polish National Seven made their first appearance at Melrose and crashed out in their opening tie, losing 33-7 to Marr. USA Tigers did not fare much better, beating Dundee before losing to Edinburgh Academicals. For both losers, it was a learning experience.
Edinburgh University pushed Accies all the way, going down to a last-minute try, guests Crusaders were no match for the experienced Watsonians, who earlier defeated Selkirk, while GHA were the other surprise packets before losing 22-21 to Marr.
The Borders series now moves on the Hawick tournament on Saturday and Berwick on Sunday. But Melrose is the tournament all clubs want to win and Watsonians have set the standard for the remainder of the season.