STUART CAMERON reports from Netherdale
AMAZINGLY, with just one minute to go, Gala were a converted try from winning this Premier A clash against Currie, yet they lost the game by 20 points.
Two weeks previous, Gala lost their unbeaten away record at Aberdeen Grammar and by all accounts the boys weren’t mentally switched on. Every good team has the odd game where things don’t go according to plan, but teams bounce back, regroup and move on.
On Saturday, most people thought the Gala glitch would be just that. I have watched them play several times and they have been a joy to watch.
On Saturday, another team turned up. Without wishing to be harsh on fly half Gregor Hunter, who has worked his way up to an Edinburgh pro contract, he has had better days at the office. Basic passing and catching errors haunted him.
But he wasn’t alone.
Even George Graham was more baffled than angry at the final whistle, not knowing what has gone wrong in January, ironically the month where the club picked up Scotland’s team of the month accolade for December.
He told TheSouthern: “Currie showed more hunger. We were very poor, missed tackles and gave away so much possession cheaply. I’d love to give you a reason why this happened, but I’m stumped right now. We’ve gone from being a team that dominates to a team that looks mediocre.”
Currie were packed with Scottish Club and Under-20 internationalists and they know how to play good attacking rugby and they have a pack that, on the day, got the better of Gala’s. They deserve to be in the British & Irish Cup and they could easily still be there next year.
Lee Millar’s boot kept Gala in the game with four penalties, but for the first time for at least two seasons they failed to score a try, and leaking four tries in a match last happened a year ago when Gala won 48-31 in that crazy cup game against Musselburgh.
Doug Fife scored the first try for Currie on 24 minutes following a penalty each for Millar and Jamie Forbes. Forbes’ conversion was charged down by the alert Craig Robertson, who knew the kicking style of the fly half was slow at best and took advantage of it.
There were glimpses of Gala getting their act together just before the interval when they looked to be heading for a certain try, but a loose pass from Ewan McQuillan was intercepted by speedster Dave Smith, and he sprinted 90 yards to score. Forbes converted and Millar kicked a penalty on the stroke of half-time to make the gap nine points.
In the second period Millar exchanged penalty goals with Forbes before he kicked a fourth to get into bonus-point territory. Gala managed to stop Currie scoring despite the visitors dominating possession and territory. It was inevitable when immense pressure on Gala was rewarded with a converted try by Jamie Forbes, but nobody expected Currie to pounce on a loose ball from their own 22 in stoppage time and run it back up the park to claim a fourth bonus-point try by Doug Fife (again converted) to seal the match by a humiliating scoreline.
Currie are back in the mix and took the Bill McLaren Shield off Gala, while their Braw Lads slipped to fourth in Premier A. They have five games left to get back into contention. The home game against Boroughmuir on February 11 now becomes massive.
You can see all four tries on Borders Rugby TV at www.BordersRugby.net
Gala: L. Millar; S. Law, A. Emond, B. Turner, C. Robertson; G. Hunter, George Graham; L. Pettie, L. Roden, E. McQuillan, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, Gary Graham, G. Lowrie, T. Weir. Subs: A. Johnston, D. Marshall, E. Dods, A. McLean, C. Borthwick.