This Sunday saw Duns Mini RFC travel to Kelso for their final Borders tournament of the season before embarking on events in East Lothian over the forthcoming weeks.
The Primary 3 ‘Grizzly Bears’ had an unblemished record to uphold and they entered the fray, determined to complete a clean sweep of tournaments across the region. The squad had proven they were able to match and surpass all of the ‘big guns’ but it wasn’t until the final whistle of their last game that they could truly call themselves ‘Kings of the Borders’!
Duns were drawn in a tough pool alongside Kelso, Selkirk, Berwick and Peebles and the hosts were first up.
On the narrow pitches of Poynder park, Duns had to stick to their trademark support play to overcome the opposition and it was Liam Joyce who epitomised that style best of all. Jack Royan made a classy break down the left side and Andrew Brydon was gliding in support ready to receive the pass but as the ball was floated wide, Joyce picked an impeccable short line to latch onto the pass and fox the defence for the score. Other scores from Royan, Brydon and another from Joyce made the final score 4-0 against the tournament hosts.
Throughout the season Selkirk had been a team that had tested Duns and this encounter was to be no different. The Selkirk team had obviously been working on their close support play and it was only due to a wild last pass that they did not capitalise. Eoin Angus once again showed why he is so exciting in attack, with a blistering break straight up the middle of the pitch, dotting the ball down with time to spare. Hayden Ainslie scored his first of the day in this tie, showing great skill to catch the ball cleanly from a wide pass and angle his run to corner for the score. Another 4-0 victory was completed by further tries from Charlie Jeffrey and Royan.
A local derby with Berwick was next on the cards and Duns really showed their experience in this fixture against a younger opposition. Jack Royan had a field day, leaving countless defenders in his wake to score a remarkable four tries and Charlie Jeffrey found his dancing shoes to beat defenders with breath-taking ease for a well-taken try. Completing the 6-1 victory was Hayden Ainslie.
It was Peebles that stood in the way of another final and it was clear that Ava Scott and Niall Dempsey meant business with their determined and energetic defence, pushing the opposition behind the gain line at every opportunity. A brace of tries from Brydon and one a piece for Ainslie and Royan, completed the victory and paved the way to a seventh successive final.
Melrose were victorious in the other pool and awaited the Dingers in the final. Both sides have been renowned all season for playing an expansive and exciting brand of rugby and the crowd looked forward to a final to remember.
Andrew Brydon got the match off to the best possible start by latching onto a pass and showing genuine pace down the right wing to score in the corner. But Melsrose clearly meant business and came back into the game with some strong and elusive running, scoring a try of their own. Jack Royan gave Duns the lead again late in the first half, diving into the corner for a dramatic try. The second half finished one try a piece, thanks to Eion Angus’ pace and Duns sealed the victory by three tries to two.
It was a very proud set of players that made their way up onto the main stand to receive their medals and as Ted Stewart raised the trophy aloft the large and vociferous support that have followed the team all season made their presence felt one more time.
Seven titles from seven tournaments have been made even more remarkable when you consider that this young team remain completely undefeated in all pool games on their amazing journey.
Have fun and carry on was the Warrior order of the day at the Kelso tournament. The P4’s have made massive steps forward over the last few months with a number of parents noting how far we have come since the season started. Many of the small squad (of just ten) played their very first game of rugby a matter of weeks ago.
At Kelso the P4 Warriors competed well in each game and only narrowly missed out on taking some prized Border rugby scalps. The team certainly played the most enterprising rugby at this level with each player committing to the Duns philosophy of pass and running rugby.
Angus Calvert and Max Martin continued their roles a strike runners scoring some excellent tries. Lauren Scott, Rogan Glass and Darcy Robson were excellent again at executing the team’s ‘move the ball’ game plan. John Borthwick and Sean Renton made massive inroads at the tackle situation stepping up and taking down opponents twice their size and Nicholas Schnider, in only his second tournament, made some excellent runs and shows huge potential.
However, special mention this week goes to Warrior effort trophy winners Kit Robson and Harrison Roberts. Kit, in his first competitive outing for Duns showed huge spirit and a real aptitude for the game with some lovely defence and superb scores. Harrison
Ewan Hope and Archie Borthwick joined a small Berwick squad and added value throughout the tournament to this newly formed team. Both putting in their fair share of tackles in all their games. Archie was keen to get ball in hand and was putting in tremendous effort all day. Ewan best with ball in hand was able to help the Berwick team with some strong carries. Both boys were praised highly by the Berwick coaches well done.
The P6’s were up against hosts Kelso, who they played last at Selkirk. It was noticeable immediately that the Duns boys were up for it with great defence from Matthew Marshall, Ethan Craze and Lewis Renton stopping the attacks of Kelso. Luke Angus, Matty McKnockiter and Ben Douglas were then showing that Duns can ruck too and even were even turning over Kelso ball. It took until the second half of the game for Kelso to finally get through with some fine play.
After a number of attacks into the Kelso half with fine runs from Rhys Howey and Kaylen Martin, Ethan Craze received the ball with 20 yards to go with a quick faint checked the defence and used his pace to touch the ball down. Unfortunately Kelso went on to score a couple more but a fine opening display.
Next game was Gala and buoyed by the previous performance, this was an even game with Max Reynolds and Matthew Marshall making some surges into the opposition defence.
Harry White, who had been distributing well all day, got on the end of a great run from Matthew to within five meters. Harry picked the right line to pass through the gap untouched for a fine score.
Gala then scored twice before the final play of the game saw Rhys how break from his own line before freeing Kaylen Martin is was then a foot race against the covering defence, with both sets of spectators unsure of the outcome. However the defender did just enough to stop the try and ended a great game with a narrow defeat to Duns.
Next up a strong Marr team who had easily beaten both Kelso and Gala, but found it harder to breakdown the Duns defence, who again kept the opposition down to just a couple of scores. But Marr were equal if not better in defence and it seemed that Duns could not get out of their half. Often having to kick ball back to Marr.
All in all a great day in the sun with some tough rugby but great improvements from all.