PREMIER GROUP B
LAING SPEIRS reports from Philiphaugh
A GAME which produced a contrast in styles and a deserved win for Gala also gave the statisticians in both clubs much to ponder over.
It had looked pre-match as though the promotion and relegation issues would be resolved without the clubs in Group B having to wait another few weeks to know their placings for next season.
But in the end, even although there are long odds against it, Gala could still miss promotion.
There is no chance, however, of Selkirk preserving their Premier One status, even with maximum points from their last two games.
A full explanation of premiership group B standings is on page 21.
Gala coach George Graham was full of praise on Saturday for the way his side had handled the season, and singled out the defence for their consistency.
“It was always going to be a hard one today with so much at stake, but we got the result we wanted,” he told TheSouthern.
Selkirk captain Fraser Harkness, just back from international sevens duty, appreciated Selkirk’s position, but said there was still a lot to play for.
“We’ve got the Border League and the Kings of the Sevens. We’ll try and get some confidence back and get a bit of a run,” he said.
A three-tries-to-one victory for the marauding Maroons was a fair reflection on how the game ran.
Their forwards were the better drilled, and denied Selkirk the ball supply that their lively set of backs would have relished.
With Selkirk wanting to keep it open, it was no surprise to find that a couple of exciting runs from Ciaran Beattie, and some big drives through the middle from Fraser Harkness were features of their play, with Neil Darling doing some stern work in the forwards.
The line-outs were pretty well balanced, with Opeta Palepoi contesting but not always winning the battle with Simon Willett and Rory Aglen.
Gala’s outstanding forwards were Gary Graham, who was full of commitment, and Euan Dods, again featuring well in open play.
Selkirk had the perfect start, with David Cassidy kicking the opening penalty in only four minutes, but Lee Millar equalised a minute later when Selkirk were caught offside.
The first real attack saw Palepoi and back row man George Graham setting up a dash to the homesters’ line, but the ball outpaced the Gala pursuit.
The scrums were proving a problem to both sides and play stuttered a bit, but Gala just missed out when Mitch Walton came up just short.
Gala’s pressure on the scrums eventually told nearing the interval when they were awarded a penalty try after three attempts to get the scrum set, Millar adding the conversion.
Selkirk had to get quickly back into the game and Cassidy put over a penalty when the visitors handled in the ruck. And it was the home side on the attack at the interval.
Home hopes were raised with another Cassidy penalty in four minutes, but it was Gala replacement Tom Weir who scored a critical try as Gala drove the temporarily shorthanded Selkirk pack over the line.
Millar converted, and Gala saw the winning post eight minutes later, Alan Emond crashing over for a try originating in another successful Gala scrum.
Selkirk’s Michael McVie went blind from a scrum and a deft chip ahead went into empty space. Harkness followed up at speed and scored far out.
That was it as far as the players were concerned, and the ball was passed to the statisticians.
Selkirk: D. Cassidy; D. Clapperton, S. Hendrie, F. Harkness, C. Beattie; G. Craig, M. McVie; G. Patterson, M. Weller, M. Martin, R. Aglen, S. Willett, R. Crockatt, N. Darling, C. Marshall. Subs: R. Taylor, S. Forrest, C. Johnston, R. Banks.
Gala: M. Walton; G. Young, B. Dick, A.Emond, F. Hunter; L. Millar, George Graham; A. Johnston, E. McQullin, C.Hogg, O. Palepoi, D.Marshall, G. Haurua, Gary Graham, E. Dods. Subs: L. Roden, T. Weir, L. Pettie, C. Dods.