STUART CAMERON reports from Netherdale
BORDER derbies are usually pretty close affairs when form goes out of the window.
But at Netherdale, in the only senior game in the Borders to survive the snow, Gala romped to a 56-10 win over local rivals Jed-Forest in the RBS Cup to stay unbeaten in the competition with just one game to play, and they top the table with five wins out of five.
For Jed, it was always going to be difficult going into this game with three straight defeats and against the team aiming to be the top club side in Scotland.
Gala won plenty of possession at the set pieces and by half-time they had raced to a 25-3 lead, scoring three tries through Chris Weir, Russell Anderson and Shaun Law, with stand-off Andy McLean kicking two penalties and two conversions to a penalty by Jed’s Australian stand-off – also called Andy McLean!
Jed crumpled in the second period, conceding another five tries – three of them converted – including a hat-trick by Craig Robertson, a cheeky try from George Graham and a second touchdown for hooker Russell Anderson.
There was no shortage of effort from Jed – particularly Darren Gillespie who put in a power of work – but they were simply blown away by a slick Maroons side who set out their stall from the off and sent a warning to Melrose that they mean business when they travel to The Greenyards on Boxing Day.
Jed captain Neil Cook went over for a consolation try at the end, converted by McLean, and it was the first try Gala had conceded in seven hours of rugby.
Gala will fancy their chances against Melrose. A win will give them the RBS Regional Cup title as well as a National Cup semi-final tie and stop Melrose from making the Murrayfield final for the fifth time on the trot. It would also book them a place in the Border League Final, give them the Waverley Cup and the Bill McLaren Shield.
Of course, Melrose will have something to say about that – especially as they haven’t lost at home to a Scottish side for more than two years.
And, if the prospect of seeing Scotland’s two best club teams in action in part two of a three-part contest this season doesn’t excite you, then simply put, you don’t have a pulse.
Hat-trick hero Craig Robertson was very satisfied with his team’s performance on Saturday – his first triple in a Gala jersey.
“We came into the game wondering if we could get the bonus point that we desperately needed and thankfully we got it just after half-time,” he told TheSouthern. “After that we ran away with it. Hopefully we can take our form into the Melrose game next week, Our whole season depends on it!”
Jed coach Kevin Barrie added: “We were under the cosh for the 80 minutes. The boys are disappointed, but to tell you the truth I don’t think they’re hurting enough.”
You can watch the highlights from the match on Borders Rugby TV at www.BordersRugby.net and relive all nine tries and 66 points in the space of just over 13 minutes.
Gala: G. Young; S. Law, C. Auld, C. Borthwick, C. Robertson; A. McLean, George Graham; L. Pettie, R. Anderson, E. McQuillan, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, D. Marshall, S. Cairns, T. Weir. Subs: A. Johnston, Gary Graham, A. Emond, C. Keddie, C. Dods.
Jed-Forest: R. Miller; G. Young, E. Scott, K. Aitcheson, D. Gobby; A. McLean, R. Goodfellow; C. Hogg, S. Raeburn, A. Croitoru, P. Hill, N. Cook, A. Nagle, D. Grieve, D. Gillespie. Subs: G. Nagle, M. Weekley, G. Taylor, J. Hogg, C. Gillion.