Gala’s eye on league as they dispose of Hawick

GARY GRAHAM (GALA) JUST LETS THE BALL SLIP FROM HIS FINGERS
GARY GRAHAM (GALA) JUST LETS THE BALL SLIP FROM HIS FINGERS

Gala 33

Hawick 13

BLOODED BUT NOT OUT CRAIG BORTHWICK TACKLES

BLOODED BUT NOT OUT CRAIG BORTHWICK TACKLES

Having had to work hard for their win at Mansfield, Gala found it an easier task by far on Friday night when they opened the defence of their Booker Border League title at Netherdale.

The Maroons extended their winning run over Hawick to nine games – their longest ever – and generally coped with the Green’s first half pressure, even though they had one eye on this week’s Premiership decider.

Nerves ahead of the vital games this weekend affected both sides.

Gala’s coach George Graham spotted anxiety about the prospect of injuries affecting his team.

And he was far from happy with some of Gala’s play.

He told us: “We missed a lot of tackles and I was very disappointed with the first-half performance.”

Hawick’s number eight forward Keith Davies, agreeing about the impact of nerves on the side, blamed mistakes in dealing with kick-offs.

Davies said: “We let them back into the game, but we were a bit unlucky with the interception try. But there was some good rugby from each side”.

Injuries and the call of the international meant changes in each side, but Gala were pleased with the first appearance of Ewan Gunter at scrum half in place of the coach’s injured son. He was alert and speedy in delivery.

The Border League formula allows each team seven replacements, and Hawick had on call the experience of such useful men as Matt Landels, Ross Graham and Bruce McNeill.

Gala supporters enjoyed the sight of replacement Tom Weir in for his first run since November, and he was early involved in his usual style.

Interceptions have become fashionable just recently, and David O’Hagan countered Neil Renwick’s early penalty with a neat try when he picked up a Hawick pass and strode in from the 22, Ewan Scott converting.

After some feckless kicking from each side, Grant Somerville threatened to repeat his award-winning try at Mansfield with a strong run down the right, and the forwards were on hand for Craig Borthwick to score.

Hawick’s last serious threat came with a Renwick penalty and then a fine try where space was provided for the full back to score at the posts, converting personally.

A half-time score of 12-13 didn’t give any indication of how strong Gala’s second half challenge would be, but Ewan McQuilin showed the way for a try converted by Scott.

Hawick’s cause was not helped by the departure of the injured Gary Johnstone, but the arrival of Bruce McNeill brought some urgency to their efforts, if only for a brief spell.

Grant Somerville’s ninth try of the season, far out on the right, and Opeta Palepoi’s by the posts, both converted by Scott, saw Gala comfortably home.

l Melrose comfortably beat Peebles by 40-5 at the Gytes on Thursday evening in the Border League Pool B match. Tries came from Graeme Dodds (3), Andrew Skene, Alan Dodds and Grant Runciman, with Andrew Skene converting five of them.