WATSONIANS and Edinburgh Accies proved on Sunday that an all-Edinburgh final is just as appetising and exciting as a sevens tie featuring Borders clubs.
Maybe members of the crowd had drifted away, but those who stayed were rewarded with an exciting 20 minutes of absorbing sevens rugby - which saw Watsonians retain the Five Star Taxis-sponsored Gala sevens tournament at Netherdale with a thrilling 33-28 victory over Edinburgh Accies in the final.
It prompted former sevens star and now Watsonians coach, Andrew Ker, to observe: “Maybe the tide has turned.”
The runners-up to Jed-Forest in the Kings of the Sevens series last season remain truly committed to the Borders circuit and will be looking to go one better with eight rounds left to play.
No side will give them a tougher challenge than Accies, who had contested only one Gala final in the past, with the players’ fitness evidence that their National League fixtures had only been completed – with the play-off against Hawick still on the agenda this month.
Watsonians had performers of quality in Reiss Cullen, Scott McKean and former Selkirk player Angus Duckett while Accies offered all-round match winners in Jamie Sole, Alex Glashan and Ben Appleson.
But it was the superb team effort, tackling and handling, that stole the show and set the standard for Borders clubs to follow.
In an even first half, two tries from Cullen and one by McKean were matched by scores from Sole and Jamie Winks.
McKean stretched the Watsonians lead on restart before Ben Appleson converted his own try. The play ebbed and flowed as Accies chased the game with Jack Ferguson and Appleson exchanging the final scores before time ran out on the gallant losers.
Borders clubs had to be content with a Plate victory for a ‘seconds’ Melrose over Peebles.
No other offered much resistance as they gradually expired against stronger opponents – a worry if they hope to erase the memory of a disappointing tournament.
Results. Pool matches: Melrose 12, Selkirk 19; Melrose 14, Edinburgh Accies 19; Selkirk 19, Edinburgh Accies 29; Gala 59, Langholm 7; Gala 14, Kelso 19; Langholm 0 Kelso 38; Watsonians 47, Hawick 5; Watsonians 33, Peebles 0; Hawick 21, Peebles 17; Jed-Forest 36, Earlston 5; Jed-Forest 27, Boroughmuir 7; Earlston 0, Boroughmuir 48.
Semi-finals: Edinburgh Accies 31, Kelso 7; Watsonians 34, Jed-Forest 0.
Final: Edinburgh Accies 28, Watsonians 33.
Bowl. Semi-finals. Selkirk 7, Gala 19; Boroughmuir 36, Hawick 12. Final Gala 14, Boroughmuir 17.
Plate. Semi-finals. Melrose 38; Langholm 5; Peebles 26, Earlston 5. Final. Melrose 28, Peebles 12.
Watsonians: R. Drummond, T. Hart, A. Duckett, R. Cullen, A. Harris, R. Steele, S. McKean, S. McLeod, A. Davidson, J. Ferguson.