Berwick hosted its annual sevens tournament on Sunday, with plenty of shocks and surprises providing great entertainment.
As usual there was a strong Borders presence, with Melrose, Watsonian, Peeebles and Selkirk all attending. Edinburgh was represented by its University team and the Accies.
There was also a strong Northumberland delegation, consisting of relatively unknown quantities Morpeth, Newcastle Agrics .
The upsets began immediately. Last year’s Kings of the Sevens champions, Jedforest, many people’s tips for the final, were dumped out unceremoniously in the first round, going down 29-19 to Peebles.
Another strong Borders team, Hawick, who recently won an unprecedented sixth of seven home tournaments, came up against a strong Melrose team, featuring former Berwick player and current Scotland sevens international Andrew Skeen.
Hawick struck first, and made Melrose work hard, but were knocked out, eventually losing 21-12.
Watsonians were forced to make a late comeback against Morpeth, who also featured a former Berwick player, Seb Trotter, facing his former club. The very last action of the tie was Watsonians’ winning try. Gala had a similar escape, requiring a late, late Grant Somerville try to get past Selkirk.
Hosts Berwick, captained by Jack Webster, put in a strong performance against Earlston, running out easy winners at 36-5. Their game was full of strong running and flowing rugby, and they several times managed to run the ball from their own tryline to scoring positions at the other end.
This win earned them a quarter final tie against Musselburgh, who had overcome Rugby MAD, a Dutch team, in the first round.
Tit-for-tat tries through the first half kept things interesting, before Musselburgh’s strength in possession paid off, and they put on 38 points to Berwick’s 12.
Elsewhere, in the quarters, Peebles continued to look as if they could go all the way. They cruised through to the semis, despatching Edinburgh University 34-5.
Melrose continued to put on a display of attacking rugby, but were somewhat fortunate against Edinburgh Accies, with the difference being a single try. This quarter final showed how vital it is to have a player capable of making difficult conversions to keep the scoreboard ticking over, and Melrose’s Skeen was close to metronomic all day.
Melrose went on to defeat Musselburgh 33-12, with Richard Mill, Skene and Sam Chalmers puncturing the Lothian side’s defence at will. However, Melrose were caught on the break several times despite their dominance of the ball, a worrying sign as they came through the more gruelling side of the draw.
In the final, Melrose came up against a Watsonians side who were showing their class, coming through quarterfinals and semis against Gala and Peebles without conceding a single point.
Melrose’s efforts in the earlier rounds seemed to have deprived them of some of their sparkle, and they went in at half time trailing 24-5, their try coming thanks to a 10m penalty for interference.
The Edinburgh side’s captain Mike Ker kept them in front with clever kicking - possession from their restarts was a feature of their play all day - and he capped off a 50-12 win with a try he made himself with two neat grubber kicks.
Watsonians’ victory takes them up to third in the 2013 Kings of the Sevens table after four events, behind Hawick and leaders Gala.