Students top of the class at Walkerburn Sevens
Duns reach final but lose to Edinburgh Uni
Duns travelled to Walkerburn last saturday for their final competitive act of the season, where they took part in the 'Burn Sevens which traditionally - along with Jed Sevens - bring down the curtain on the rugby calendar.
With David Hutchison, Kevin Aitchison and Ben Black, along with a number of others, all unavailable, it was more in hope than in expectation that the young squad headed off up the Tweed valley. Danny Lamb came in to the Sevens side for the first time this season, and three of the very successful Colts Seven - Bert Grigg, Andrew Baxter and Budge Burns - were drafted in to add pace to the side.
First opponents for Duns - in the sixth tie of the afternoon - were Edinburgh Academicals, who included former Duns Colts player Max Gordon in their ranks. Duns scored twice in the opening two minutes through Danny and then Ged Lamb, and never looked back from there. Accies scored just before half time, but Duns ran out comfortable winners in the end by 29 - 5.
In the quarter-final Duns played Musselburgh - the Premier 3 side having sent their first Seven to the tournament. Musselburgh opened the scoring with a converted try, but once Duns found their rhythm the scores came at regular intervals, and Duns won convincingly by 31 - 7.
The Semi-Final line-up saw Biggar play Edinburgh University and Duns take on Selkirk. Duns opened the scoring almost straight from the kick-off, but Selkirk fought back and shortly before half time had opened up a 17 - 7 lead. However, Duns dug deep, and with a superhuman second half performance, including tries by colts Bert Grigg and Andrew Baxter, they came storming back to win by 36 points to 17.
The team playing the second semi final has the shortest recovery time before having to play the final in a Sevens tournament, and in addition the final is always 10 minutes each way. A number of Duns players were already out on their feet after their semi-final heroics against Selkirk, and so it was always going to be difficult against the students. This was the University's First Seven, as they had not been invited to the Jed Sevens, but they had played in 6 of the previous 9 rounds of the 'Kings of the Sevens' circuit and had never failed to get past the first round. They also took some notable scalps along the way, including that of Gala at Langholm Sevens.
Duns opened the scoring in the first minute when Stephen Cooke crossed in the corner - a fitting farewell to Duns for the young Irishman who is heading off to take up employment in Malta in the next couple of weeks. The University then scored three tries in quick succession in the first half, and although Duns enjoyed much more possession after the interval they could not break down the very well-drilled, experienced, fit student side any further. The University were well-deserved winners, clearly the best side of the tournament, and they eventually won by 31 points to 5.
Duns captain Dale Robertson lead his team of Bert Grigg, Jamie Renton, Danny Lamb, Ged Lamb, Ryan Selkirk, Stephen Cooke, Dane Ivison, Andrew Baxter and Budge Burns up to collect their runners-up medals to the applause of the large crowd knowing that everyone had given everything for the cause. Well played lads.
The Duns players would normally be looking forward to taking the summer off, but of course this year there is a party of more than 30 players and officials heading over the Atlantic for a 10-day, 3-match Tour to Ontario, Canada, leaving on July 22nd - just a little over 9 weeks away, so fitness levels will need to be maintained until then. When they return, there will be less than a fortnight until the Duns 10-a-Side tournament, the by-now traditional curtain-raiser to the new season.
PS. Last week it was intimated that Duns RFC President Walter Stobie is the first from the Club to be elected President of the Border Semi-Junior League. This is not, in fact, the case. In season 2000/01 Ian Davidson also served a season as President of the Semi-Junior League. We are happy to put the record straight - apologies for the oversight, Ian.