MELROSE rugby sevens remain the cream of the Scottish abbreviated game and it was fitting that the hosts and Watsonians should battle it out for the Ladies Centenary Cup on Saturday at The Greenyards.

The Kings of the Sevens holders left it late to turn on their own sevens magic with a sparkling display of open, flowing rugby to pip Melrose, winners of the Sanderson Silver Salver, 19-14 in the final.

The winning score came in the very final minute of an enthralling afternoon in front of a 6000 crowd to snatch the trophy in the final of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Melrose sevens.

There are few, if any other Borders clubs, which could match the guile, pace and power of the teams, who set up one of the most brilliant finals at the ground for years.

It was a fantastic afternoon for coach Mike Ker, a regular sevens exponent himself who has never been on a winning side as a player at the Melrose Sevens. He added: “It is just as good as a coach.

“We left the best to last. It took us time to get into our stride a bit, but the more we played, the better we got.

“We kept the ball, we were physical when we needed to be.

"We scored two late tries and the performance showed the character of the boys. They work hard for each other in defence and attack, and it was that final try in the semi-final which got us here.”

The win puts holders Watsonians at the head of the Borders Kings of the Sevens series.

“We now need to push on, starting at Hawick on Saturday,” Ker added.

It was the first time that the final lasted just seven minutes each way instead of the normal 10 and offered at least some respite for the players after a gruelling afternoon.

Watsonians showed control, power and resilience to come from behind to defeat surprise semi-finalists Marr, coached by former Melrose player Craig Redpath, with a late try by Scott McKean and denied the hosts with another last-second score from Charlie McKill to lift the cup.

There was major disappointment in the Melrose camp despite a successful day off the field.

“We are disappointed to get to the final and to have played so well without winning,” said Rugby Director Mike Dalgetty.

“Watsonians were worthy winners. There was a huge effort from our boys, but that is the way it goes. Overall it was a great day for the club.”

Captain Grant Runciman added: “We felt gutted at the end. Watsonians kept the ball better in the final.”

The teams turned round 7-7 in the final, with McKean and Ross McCann exchanging tries and Ali Harris and Craig Jackson adding the conversions.

Rory Steele and McCann again swapped tries after the break, and the game was evenly poised before McKill scored in the corner and was awarded the try after the referee consulted the touch judge… too late for any Melrose revival.

In the first of the semis, Melrose had overpowered Edinburgh Accies and led 17-0 at half-time with tries from Austin Lockington, Fraser Thomson, who was also yellow-carded, and McCann.

Accies offered little after the break and Patrick Anderson’s try and McCann’s second eased the hosts into the final.

Marr proved the surprise side of the afternoon, and it took a late try by McKean following scores by Harris and McKill to seal their final place – and this after Marr had led 14-0 at the break.

Earlier, Melrose outgunned Boroughmuir and swept aside Currie with a swashbuckling quarter-final win, Lockington scoring the final try in the last second.

The Polish National Seven made their first appearance at Melrose and crashed out in their opening tie, losing 33-7 to Marr. USA Tigers did not fare much better, beating Dundee before losing to Edinburgh Academicals. For both losers, it was a learning experience.

Edinburgh University pushed Accies all the way, going down to a last-minute try; guests Crusaders, who fielded ex-Selkirk player Fraser Harkness, were no match for the experienced Watsonians, who earlier defeated Selkirk; while GHA were the other surprise packets before losing 21-20 to Marr.

The Borders series now moves on the Hawick tournament on Saturday and Berwick on Sunday. But Melrose is the tournament all clubs want to win – and Watsonians have set the standard for the remainder of the season.

First round: Currie Chieftains 40, Glasgow Hawks 7; Cartha Queen’s Park 17, Boroughmuir 28; Heriot’s 7. University of Edinburgh 21; Peebles 7, Dundee Rugby 38; Kelso 19, Marr 29; GHA 24, Gala 5; Hawick 24, Aberdeen Grammar 12; Selkirk 26, Stirling County 17.

Second round: Currie 24, Jed-Forest 19; Boroughmuir 0, Melrose 29; University of Edinburgh 19, Edinburgh Accies 21; Dundee 5, USA Tigers 25; Marr 33, Polish National Seven 7; GHA 31, Ayr 5; Hawick 12, Crusaders 31; Selkirk 12, Watsonians 24.

Quarter-finals: Currie 5, Melrose 31; Edinburgh Accies 12, USA Tigers 10; Marr 21, GHA 20; Crusaders 12, Watsonians 21.

Semi-finals: Melrose 27, Edinburgh Accies 0; Marr 14, Watsonians 19.

Final: Melrose 14, Watsonians 19.

Watsonians: C. Borthwick, E. Miller, C. McKill, A. Harris, A. Skeen, R. Steele, S. McKean, J. Miller, W. Thomson, A. Davidson.

Melrose: I. Moody, G. Taylor, G. Runciman, B. Colvine, C. Jackson, A. Lockington, P. Anderson, F. Thomson, J. Baggott.