Dumfries Saints were represented at the annual Seriously Strong Newton Stewart Sevens this year by a hardy band of players still willing to put in a shift at the end of a long season.
Lead by the now very experienced Jamie Farquhar, the otherwise young team comprised of Kenny Henderson, James Currie, Andy Whiteford, Tom and Sam Hiddleston, Graeme Minty, Alan Birdsall, Rory Steele and the slightly less youthful Eck Sloan. This perennial prop forward was somewhat of an anomaly at a sevens tournament.
Dumfries were grouped with hosts Newton Stewart, Cumnock and Premier 1 giants, Ayr. With only one team progressing from the group the pressure was on the Saints to perform.
Dumfries kicked off against local rivals Newton Stewart. With bragging rights as always at stake the game started briskly and physically. Despite tenacious defence the pace, fitness and skill level of the Saints was too much for Newton Stewart and by the final whistle a 50 point margin separated the teams.
The next tie seemed an easier prospect on paper. Cumnock are a side Dumfries know of old but this was a young side who disrupted and harried Dumfries in to mistake after mistake. Cumnock also boasted genuine pace within the side and the game see-sawed back and forward with Dumfries struggling to maintain a comfortable lead. Late in the second half Dumfries found the composure they had lacked until this point, winning the game.
The final round of the group stage matched Dumfries against Ayr. The Dumfries players expected a thorough examination by one of the biggest names in Scottish club rugby. As it was it would be the Premier 1 boys who would need some medical attention. Dumfries dominated in every facet of the game. They maintained possession, broke from all areas of the park and had the pace to finish moves. On the rare occasion the defensive line was broken the cover defence was heroic.
This victory put Dumfries through to the Semi-Finals were they met a very handy looking Carlisle side. In the first half the game was tight, with both teams exchanging scores. Again it was in the second half that the superior fitness and pace of the Saints stretched the lead.
Semi Final pictures
The Dumfries boys now had a nervous wait to the final against a Kelso side who had progressed as comfortably as Dumfries had. The stage was set for a close final. Dumfries started the final with a disastrous passage of play which gifted Kelso an easy score. Any thoughts that this would be terminal were soon cast aside as Dumfries levelled the scoring. The first half ended with nothing separating the sides but as had been the case all day, the second half was all Dumfries. Score upon score was piled on to the shell shocked borderers as the flying Dumfries players defied an afternoon of sevens to out strip their opposition at every opportunity. The final ended with Dumfries deserving winners.
All pictures courtesy of Eric Sloan, Photographer, Newton Stewart
For full definition pictures you can contact Eric by email at email@example.com