Melrose Sevens: Glasgow too strong for Germany

Glasgow Warriors' Niko Matawalu in action during the pro side's quarter-final win over Gala at yesterday's Melrose Sevens. Picture: SNS
Glasgow Warriors' Niko Matawalu in action during the pro side's quarter-final win over Gala at yesterday's Melrose Sevens. Picture: SNS
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Glasgow Warriors successfully defended their Melrose Sevens title after defeating Germany by 36-21 in the final of the 125th playing of the famous event at the Greenyards yesterday.

Germany, whose players are all amateurs, have built up a formidable reputation on the European Sevens Grand Prix circuit, a level below the World Series but nevertheless of a high standard.

Yesterday at the Greenyards the German team always looked likely finalists as they navigated their way through the top half of the draw, beating Ayr 24-10 in the second round and then after an exciting tie with Watsonians defeating the Myreside men 22-14 with a 4-2 try advantage.

Then in the first of the semi-finals Germany came up against the local heroes Melrose who had dispatched Glasgow Hawks with a 35-17 win in the second round before pulling off a crowd-pleasing 19-15 victory over guest side London Wasps with tries from Tom Wilson, Bruce Colvine and Scotland under-20 cap Neil Irvine-Hess.

But not even the support of a passionate crowd could stop Germany from taking the honours against Melrose despite impressive tries by Austin Lockington and Wilson. Germany, as they had done in the previous rounds, played with accuracy, and width that constantly stretched their opponents’ defence but at the end it was sheer physicality that gave the Germans their 22-12 win to book their place in the final.

For their part Glasgow Warriors seemed likely to reach the final, the professionalism of their conditioning, their pace and their ball skills prevailing over that of the amateur clubs. Dundee HSFP were Warriors’ first victims going down to the Scotstoun outfit by 31-0, albeit showing some good sevens skills in the tie.

Warriors’ result against Dundee gave the Glasgow side a quarter final tie against Gala. In the event the Maroons offered resistance and trailed by only one try at half time with the scoreline at 7-14. But second half tries by Glenn Bryce and Rory Hughes to a touchdown by George Graham for Gala gave Warriors a 26-12 win.

The expectation in the final was of a competitive match. But the opening phases seemed to point to a comfortable result for Warriors who soared into the lead with a try by Matawalu and the conversion and a try by the in-form Fraser Lyle.

Warriors, however, were rudely reminded that their opponents were at Melrose to win the famous event and gave notice of their intentions with a converted try just before the break by bulky Anjo Buchman.

Then in their first attack in the second half Germany struck again, this time Clemens von Grumbkow outpacing the defence, the conversion giving the European guest side a 14-12 advantage. Another try, this time by Carlos Sortera Merz, and the conversion put Germany further ahead before Lyle narrowed the gap with his side’s third try converted by Gregor Hunter.

With the scent of victory Warriors ran in a fourth try, Matawalu providing the scoring pass for draftee Gregor Young. A fifth try was then provided by Murray McConnell, Matawalu’s conversion stretching Warriors’ lead to 31-21. There was still time for a further score and again it was Young, who had impressed earlier for Jed-Forest, who provided the final glory score for a 36-21 win.