Gala stemmed a morale-sapping flow of debilitating defeats with a fully-deserved bonus point win over Glasgow Hawks at Netherdale to offer hope that the Maroon’s fortunes may be on the turn.
But Gala’s head coach, George Graham, warned that tough challenges lie ahead.
“It take a little pressure off us but we’re just at the beginning of our journey again,” he said.
“We have a huge game against Ayr next week, so that’s going to be a massive ask for them.
Graham added: “I’m just really pleased for the club and really pleased for the fans. It was disappointing the numbers that turned up today to watch but rightly so because we haven’t been giving them much to cheer about.
Hawks, who gave both Melrose and Ayr hard games earlier this month, might reasonably have expected to win at Netherdale given Gala’s record since September 5 of eight defeats and one draw.
Last Saturday, however, was the day the Maroons decided to stage their fightback and in the event Gala fully deserved their win such was their superiority in the forwards battle and in their ability to make line-breaks.
Gala were undoubtedly helped by the presence in their front row of the Edinburgh prop, Alan Dell, who scored two first half tries from driven line-outs and had a significant hand in creating two of the Maroons’ three second half scores.
The one disappointing aspect of Gala’s game was goal kicking. From six shots at goal Gala were able to garner only two points, a markedly low return in Premiership rugby. Stand-off Ruairi Howarth, who otherwise had a good game, missed three shots at goal in the first half before relinquishing duties to first Keith Young and then Craig Dods.
Winger Young, another to perform well on Saturday, kicked one conversion but missed a second attempt, before replacement Craig Dods saw his conversion attempt rebound off the upright. Young may need time to settle as a kicker but Graham suggested that there is another option in number 8 Euan Dods. “Euan is a really good kicker,” opined Graham. Another Zinzan Brooke?
Dell’s two first half tries gave Gala a 10-7 interval lead, extended early in the second half with a try made by a break from Dell and finished by Graham Spiers. Dell and Spiers then combined to create a try for former Kelso player, Frankie Robson.
Hawks hit back with a try and conversion by winger Pierre Mournal from a break by the Glasgow club’s dynamic scrum half Paddy Boyer but any hopes of Hawks snatching the game were squashed with another driving maul try, this time scored by replacement Josh Irvine.
Then on the stroke of full time the pacy Boyer broke clear again to create an unconverted try for youngster Josh Henderson, not enough, however, to spoil Gala’s day of recovery.