Soutars’ home win sets up late Kings challenge

SELKIRK lifted their own sevens title for the fifth time in six years in a thrilling sevens tournament yesterday, writes Atholl Innes at Philiphaugh.

The hosts outfought and outplayed Melrose in an absorbing afternoon to win the final for the 13th time after a stunning victory but stayed on course to win back the Kings of the Sevens title.

Melrose were battered and bruised by the final whistle and would have no complaints about the scoreline.

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The last of the ten tournaments goes ahead next Saturday at Jedburgh with Melrose four points clear of Watsonians, but this was Selkirk’s day and added to their win at the Langholm Sevens.

Selkirk played with a power and passion that Melrose, watched by retiring coach Craig Chalmers, could not match. Their defensive cover and tackling was superb and attacking running proved too much for the Kings leaders.

Gavin Craig, the Selkirk skipper, said: “We knew Melrose would punish us if they got the ball. I think it was meant to be our day.”

His Melrose counterpart Graeme Dodds, whose team had faced Watsonians in the semi-final, added: “The boys were out on their feet after a tough semi.”

Selkirk raced into an early 17-0 lead with tries from Angus Duckett, Darren Clapperton and Callum McColm, the second converted by Fraser Harkness.

Melrose, feeling the effects of that bruising semi, hit back after the interval when Dodds broke free to go over and Andrew Skeen converted.

The tie remained evenly poised until Gavin Craig found space on the right for his side’s fourth try, and when Rory Banks also squeezed over, Selkirk knew that the match was won.

In the first of the semi-finals, Harkness’ conversion of McColm’s try ended Gala’s Kings challenge, while Skeen scored the crucial Melrose try in extra time against holders Watsonians.

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Selkirk had already defeated Falkirk and Glasgow Hawks, thanks to a late score by Angus Duckett, while Melrose knocked out Peebles and Kings holders, Jed-Forest.

Results – first round: Gala 24, Heriot’s 19 (after extra time); Edinburgh Accies 24, Hawick 19; Selkirk 24, Falkirk 10; Glasgow Hawks 31, Kelso 24; Watsonians 33, Hillhead/Jordanhill 5; Ayr 55, Berwick 0; Melrose 35, Peebles 12, Jed-Forest 36, Langholm 7. Second round: Gala 24, Edinburgh Accies 5; Selkirk 19, Glasgow Hawks 15; Watsonians 35, Ayr 0; Melrose 21, Jed-Forest 17. Semi-finals: Gala 10, Selkirk 12; Watsonians 14, Melrose 19. Final: Selkirk 27, Melrose 7. Selkirk: A. Duckett, F. Harkess, M. Kissick, D. Clapperton, C. McColm, G. Craig, S. Hendrie, E. MacDougall, M. Davies, R. Banks. Melrose: G. Dodds, R. Mill, R. Ovens, B. Colvine, A. Skeen, A. Dodds, C. Anderson, J. Helps, A. Nagle, L. Mallin.