Hawick reigned supreme yesterday (Sunday) as they clinched their seventh home tournament title in eight years with an inspired performance from start to finish, writes Alexander McLeman.
The Mansfield Park outfit defeated defending champions Melrose in a thrilling final that almost slipped from their grasp. The home crowd on the edge of their seats as The Greenyards men clawed back a 26-0 second-half deficit which set-up a nail bitter of a finish that ended 31-28 in Hawick’s favour.
At a wet and cold Mansfield Park, the Robbie Dyes showed that although the overall Kings title was gone, Gala sealing the outright crown on Saturday at Selkirk with their runners-up performance, individual tournament honours were the target from the remaining two series events.
The Robbie Dyes cruised through the first and second rounds, defeating Langholm (39-0) and Berwick (32-10), before fronting up to a Gala side in a dominant semi-final performance.
Leading 14-7 at half-time through touchdowns from Sean Goofellow and Lee Armstrong, both of which were converted by Armstrong, the Greens exploded in the second period to dispose of Gala in convincing fashion.
A second Armstrong score was followed by John Coutts and Darcy Graham whose touchdown could go down as try of the series following a cross-field kick, a deft chip and a brilliant pass allowed the Scotland under-18 star to cross the whitewash.
Goodfellow capped a one-sided tie with the final score that set up a showdown against reigning Hawick sevens title holders Melrose who had navigated ties against Kelso (21-12), Selkirk (40-0) and Watsonians (24-21).
In the final, Hawick leading 26-0 early in the second half, with Keith Davies, Armstrong (2) and Greg Cottrell scoring the Greens’ points, Armstrong chipping over three conversions, before Melrose began their miraculous fightback through a lung-busting effort from Richard Mill who converted his own try.
Goodfellow restored Hawick’s 24-point advantage but three further scores in as many minutes from Austin Lockington, Ross Miller and Robbie Charlmers, all converted by Lockington, turned the final into what had previously looked like a forgone conclusion into a thrilling end-to-end contest.
Melrose kept pushing but with 90 seconds remaining and against a determined Hawick defence, they failed to produce a winning score as the Robbie Dyes held on to claim the spoils.