Thistles Book Semi-Final Berth

Scottish Thistles, the Scotland 7s development team, reached the semi-finals of the 125th Mathon Melrose Sevens at the Greenyards this afternoon following a quarter-final victory over Italian club Roma. Thistles, who had looked somewhat heavy-legged in their opening success against Currie, were patient in defence and eventually found some potency in attack.

Scottish Thistles, the Scotland 7s development team, reached the semi-finals of the 125th Mathon Melrose Sevens at the Greenyards this afternoon following a quarter-final victory over Italian club Roma.

Thistles, who had looked somewhat heavy-legged in their opening success against Currie, were patient in defence and eventually found some potency in attack.

The Scots' coach Stephen Gemmell said: "We needed that first game to give us a bit of a blow-out but we'll need to be a little bit more accurate in contact whoever we face next and be ready for their physicality."

The semi-final opponents will be the Ulster President's VII, who were far too powerful in both engagement and pace for the Gold Coast Breakers.

In their quarter-final, Thistles opened with a well-constructed try by Greig Laidlaw, which Ali Warnock converted. Roma's Lloyd O'Connor pulled back a try but second-half scores from Ben Addison, following up his own kick-ahead, and Chris Fusaro, from Scott Forrest's cross kick, saw the Scots home without the assistance of Warnock's added goal points to Fusaro's score.

Earlier the Thistles, comprising a squad all of whom have had experience on the IRB circuit, were involved in something of an arm wrestle against Currie, before edging clear.

In truth Thistles made heavy weather of their tie against Currie, level 7 all at half-time, before eventually finding some width on the sticky surface to book their place in the quarter-finals.

Thistles tries were scored by Mike Adamson, Ali Warnock, Richie Vernon and Ben Addison with Warnock landing one conversion.

Other second-round ties saw Dundee HSFP fight back from a 0-14 deficit against Roma, tries from Richie Hawkins and Alan Hay helping them recover to 12-14. But a lapse enabled Roma to claim their vital third try en route to a 19-12 success.

A physical Ulster President's VII, in effect the Ireland squad for their Rugby World Cup sevens qualifying campaign, dominated against Watsonians and the procession of guest teams through to the quarter-finals continued as Gold Coast Breakers had far too much gas for Peebles.

That was the story of the next tie too. Kevin Utterson repeated his opening try scoring feat from the first round but thereafter Leicester Tigers ran in six tries without reply, the Youngs brothers, Ben and Tom, providing three of them.

The tournament was crying out for an upset. Step forward Jed-Forest, hailing from the town just down the road with a population of 3,000 against the Chinese Agricultural University (aka China) drawing from a population that you'd measure in the millions.

Jed hinted that it might just be their day with two unconverted tries by Roy McFarlane. By the break, however, the Chinese had replied with converted tries by Zhang Zhi Qiang and Wang Chong Yi.

Into the second-half and it was a tense affair before the experienced Gary Hill broke a tackle for Jed's third try and, as no-side neared, Ross Goodfellow scythed through for the clincher.

Melrose with Mark Robertson in fine fettle and their defence refusing to yield looked impressive winners over Selkirk, while holders Shimlas had to rely on an extra-time try from Pieter Labuschangne to see off Boroughmuir 12-17.

Today was always going to have the air of unmistakeable nostalgia an impression confirmed by the opening ties, where Kelso squad included such renowned names from the abbreviated game as Common, Minto and, the ultimate, Haig.

Ned Haig's invention was the source of today's celebration and two of his clan, Andrew and Alan, were part of the Kelso squad that was involved in the pick of the first round ties against last week's winners of the Gala tournament, Heriot's.

Former internationalist Kevin Utterson, the father figure of a youthful Kelso team, opened the scoring but it was his uncompromising defence that was a key ingredient in the Borderers' success, one thumping effort on Dylan Mason halting the Heriot's hooker as the try line beckoned.

Heriot's did level with a try by Olo Brown and led at half-time with a classic, lung-bursting length of the pitch sprint from Colin Goudie.

Kelso, however, played with some savvy in the second-half with better support running as Andrew Haig and Richard Minto crossed for tries, crucially both converted by Sean Common.

Goudie's second try was too late to affect the outcome.

In earlier ties, former Scotland age-grade captain Cameron Ferguson weighed in with a hat-trick of tries as Dundee HSFP ousted Gala; Watsonians recovered from an early deficit, with Michael Ker pulling the strings, to account for West of Scotland; and Peebles had two second half tries from Dan Baughtwood to thank for defeating Edinburgh Accies.

Back in the bottom half of the draw Jed-Forest overcame four missed conversions to edge out Hawick; Melrose romped past Glasgow Hawks; and Boroughmuir, fielding the bulk of their playmakers from their Scottish Hydro Electric Premiership winning team, were too slick for Ayr.

Melrose Sevens results


Quarter-finals:

Scottish Thistles 19 Roma 5

Ulster 26 Gold Coast Breakers 5

Second round:

Currie 7 Scottish Thistles 22

Dundee HSFP 12 Roma 19

Watsonians 5 Ulster President's V!! 28

Peebles 10 Gold Coast Breakers 36

Kelso 5 Leicester Tigers 40

Jed-Forest 24 Chinese Agricultural University 14

Melrose 24 Selkirk 0

Boroughmuir 12 Shimlas 17 (after extra-time)

First round:

Langholm 5 Currie 7

Dundee HSFP 24 Gala 5

Watsonians 28 West of Scotland 5

Peebles 21 Edinburgh Accies 7

Kelso 19 Heriot's 15

Jed-Forest 20 Hawick 17

Glasgow Hawks 7 Melrose 36

Ayr 0 Boroughmuir 33