Berwick Sevens

Selkirk sweep all before them to pick up Berwick Sevens Cup for very first time

STRETCHING A POINT. A Berwick player tries to collar Selkirk forward Callum Marshall in the teams' semi-final tie. (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)

SELKIRK turned on the style at Scremerston on Sunday to lift the Berwick Sevens title for the first time. After appearing in the tournament's final twice in the past three years, the Philiphaugh men made it third time luck by defeating Kelso 52-19 to finally get their hands on the trophy.

Skipper Fraser Harkness, who emerged as the day's top points-scorer with seven tries and 11 conversions, was full of praise for Selkirk's young side. "We had a couple of call-offs last night because of injuries picked up against Hawks on Saturday, but the young lads who came into the squad did a brilliant job.

"Sevens is all about teamwork, and today everyone in the side worked hard for each other, both in attack and defence. Kelso gave us a hard fight early on, but we managed to stop them scoring on a couple of occasions, which gave us the confidence to take the game to them. It's nice to have finally got Selkirk's name on the cup."

Gavin Craig and Rory Aglen were the two Selkirk players who dropped out of the squad, their places going to teenagers Rory Banks and Ryan Godsmark - the latter having played for the Selkirk Youth Club seven who triumphed at Gala Wanderers' sports the previous day.

Because of travel difficulties, the Danish guest team couldn't make the Berwick tournament, so instead Selkirk faced a President's VII in the first round. The Souters posted a comfortable 48-0 win, tries coming from Lee Jones (2), Scott Hendrie (2), Fraser Harkness, Rob Taylor and Callum Marshall. Hendrie added four conversions.

Unfortunately Selkirk replacement Darren Clapperton had to retire to the sidelines after aggravating an ankle injury, his place in the Selkirk squad being taken by Murrayfield Wanders threequarter Murray Johnstone.

Quarter-final opponents Peebles provided a far tougher challenge, and took the lead through a David Anderson try. Selkirk hit back with a score by Ross Nixon, converted by Harkness, to lead 7-5 at halftime. Two converted tries by Harkness put Selkirk in control at 21-5, and although Peebles cut the deficit with a score from Neil Warnock, Harkness had the final say with his third try to seal victory 26-12.

Selkirk's semi-final opponents, host club Berwick, had provided the shock of the tournament by ousting high-flying Hawick in their quarter-final tie, After a slow start, the Souters eventually hit their stride and ran out 34-5 winners thanks to tries from Ross Nixon (3), Fraser Harkness (2) and Callum Marshall. Harkness added two conversions.

Kelso, who were losing finalists at Hawick Sevens the previous day, looked certain to give Selkirk a run for their money in the final. Selkirk took a 14-5 halftime lead thanks to a brace of tries by Lee Jones to one by Greg Minto, and at this stage there was no indication of the way the tie would dramatically swing in the Philiphaugh side's favour.

Try-saving tackles by Harkness (on Hartley) and Hendrie (on Minto) proved the turning point, and with the Tweedsiders beginning to tire, Selkirk's players dug deep to blitz the Black & Whites with a further six tries from Harkness (2), Jones (2), and Callum Johnston (2). Kelso's consolation scores came from Ewan Ford and Greg Minto, leaving the Souters worthy winners by 52-19.

SELKIRK - Callum Marshall, Callum Johnston, Rob Taylor, Fraser Harkness, Ross Nixon, Scott Hendrie, Lee Jones, Ryan Godsmark, Darren Clapperton (rep. Murray Johnstone, M'field Wdrs), Rory Banks.