Greens foiled in bid to end Haugh hoodoo

Hawick's Gary Johnstone is stopped in his tracks during Sunday's Earlston final against Melrose
Hawick's Gary Johnstone is stopped in his tracks during Sunday's Earlston final against Melrose

HAWICK’S 42-year wait for the Earlston Sevens title continues despite a valiant effort at The Haugh on Sunday.

Phil Leck’s injury-hit squad battled through to the final to raise hopes of their first Earlston crown since 1970, but were undone by three first half tries by Melrose, eventually succumbing 26-17.

Leck told the Hawick News: “We butchered three opportunities in the first half when passes didn’t go to hand.

“We made it hard for ourselves but it was a big, gutsy performance. We are down to our last eight or nine (fit) players and it has been a long, hard season.

“Melrose are a big, professional side and it difficult for some of our lads to compete physically. I would not have given us a great chance of getting to the final, but these lads don’t half stick in and as soon as they put a green jersey on they turn into different animals.”

Fatigue played a big part in the scrappy standard of the final, with Melrose 19-0 up at half time through Fraser Thomson, Andrew Skeen and Graeme Dodds.

Craig Russell reduced the deficit within 24 seconds of the restart but Thomson raced through to make it 26-7.

A delay following a knee injury to Keith Davies did the Teries no favours, although they managed two more scores through Gary Johnstone and Rory Hutton.

Despite being carried off, Leck hope Davies is fit for tomorrow’s Selkirk Sevens.

“It doesn’t appear to be as bad as first thought,” he said. “It is just a twisted knee and we hope he is back next week as we need him, otherwise I may need to get my boots out!”

Hawick’s route to the final started with a comprehensive 39-7 win against Duns, with Hutton and Neil Renwick both grabbing braces of tries.

Johnstone scored two touchdowns in the quarters as Hawick saw off Kelso 26-17, before they recorded an impressive 19-12 win over Watsonians, who had won back-to-back sevens titles at Peebles and Kelso, with Davies notching the decisive score.

The Greens were also beaten by the tournament winners of the Kelso sevens the previous day when they succumbed to Watsonians in the last-four of the competition. The Edinburgh club won the Kelso tourney for the first time in their history by beating Jed-Forest 33-28 in a tense final after a straightforward 24-7 dismissal of Hawick in the semis.

The Teri contingent qualified from their group with a 50-point haul against Berwick and by toppling Kelso by 24-21.

But, they were ousted by ‘Sonians, whose hooker Paul Tuala ran in a brace of tries.

In a tense final, Watsonians and their opponents Jed-Forest, who lead the King of the Sevens table, were tied 14-14 at half time before the underdogs edged a lively second half.