Gala go top after gritty display at the Greenyards

Melrose 12 Gala 17

PREMIER LEAGUE

Fiona Scott reports from the Greenyards

IF EVER a team deserved to go top of the Premiership it was Gala following this dogged show of guts and determination.

With so much to gain, and to lose, for both sides it was no surprise that the opening 20 minutes turned out to be a somewhat stuffy affair with neither side giving or gaining much.

Gala had the first chance to make an impression when Melrose went down to 14 men on 16 minutes, Ross Miller having been yellow carded for an repeated team infringement, but Lee Millar’s resulting penalty attempt was swung wide.

Shortly afterwards Richard Mill slotted one at the other end to get the hosts off the mark.

In terms of action the large crowd were treated to a good dose during the remainder of the game although probably not the kind they were looking for. As Miller came back on, Melrose having managed to defend successfully in the interim, Blair Hutchison was given his marching orders leaving the hosts still having to cover a deficit. This time Gala threw themselves at the Melrose line and their perseverance paid off as referee Charles Samson’s patience ran out and he awarded a penalty try. Millar kicked the extras.

As the half ran out Miller and Joe Helps added another two penalties for Melrose, the second a stunning long distance effort by the latter, to take them in at the break 9-7 ahead.

True to form of late Gala came out all guns blazing in the second half. A sprint up the blindside by Chris Auld resulted in Grant Somerville crossing the line and dotting down and Millar converted before adding a distance defying penalty of his own.

Disaster struck for Gala when Luke Pettie was yellow carded for what the referee deemed as a high tackle and minutes later fellow prop Ewan McQuillan went the same way. Now down to 13 men and uncontested scrums things weren’t looking to good for the Netherdale outfit. Andrew Skeen came off the bench and was put to use almost immediately when sent to kick, what turned out to be, a successful penalty and close the gap to five points.

Gala defended valiantly and managed to hold out until their numbers were fully restored and an almighty cheer went up from the players on the pitch when the referee decided to blow for time.

Melrose: F. Thomson; B. Colvine, J. Murray, J. Helps, B. Hutchison; R. Mill, S. McCormick; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holburn, R. Ovens, R. Miller, J. Dalziel, G. Runciman, A. Nagle. Subs: W. Mitchell, C. Keen, D. Crawford, A. Skeen, S. Chalmers.

Gala: A. McLean; G. Somerville, C. Auld, A. Emond, C. Robertson; L. Millar, George Graham; L. Pettie, R. Anderson, E. McQuillan, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, C. Keddie, Gary Graham, E. Dodds. Subs: C. Mackintosh, K. Mein, S. Cairns, B. Turner, G. Young.