Graham suffers from backs pain

Gala v Ayr.
Gala v Ayr.

Gala 13

Ayr 20

RBS PREMIER ONE

KEVIN JANIAK reports from Netherdale

GALA coach George Graham launched a scathing attack on his players after they threw away the perfect opportunity to get the better of last year’s cup winners.

The home forwards certainly had the beating of the men in the rather fetching pink jerseys, shoving them all over the place in the scrums and confident in the line-outs.

However, they still ended up on the wrong end of the scoreline after disappointing errors in open play and lack of patience in the backs handed the win to Ayr.

Graham told TheSouthern: “I was bitterly disappointed we didn’t come away from that with more than a bonus point.

“I wasn’t too impressed by Ayr, we just made it easy for them with the amount of turnovers we gave them – the dropped passes, the silly penalties we gave away – because I don’t think there is anything in their armoury that should cause us problems.

“I’m very disappointed in some of our players’ stupid decision-making that cost us the game – we were trying to score on the first phase when we should have been trying to build phases and have a bit more patience.

“I don’t think we built three phases together in the whole game and we never executed any of the planned plays we have done 100 times in training.”

Andy McLean came back from injury at stand-off due to the forced absence of elite development player Gregor Hunter, who was unavailable having played 18 minutes of Edinburgh’s match against Cardiff the evening before.

But the Maroons still boasted a strong side, still on a high after their largely unexpected win over Currie the previous week.

Gala had the first pop at goal in the seventh minute through Lee Millar, but it came back off the post.

It was Ayr who opened the scoring against the run of play, Nick Elrick’s 30m penalty soaring through the sticks.

Millar equalised in the 33rd minute, but Scott Sutherland’s try from what was Ayr’s only scrum that was worth anything, along with Elrick’s conversion, gave the visitors a 10-3 lead at half-time.

Into the second half, Craig Robertson thought he was through for Gala, but play was called back for a forward pass.

Another penalty chance fell their way in the 51st minute, Millar making no mistake with the three-pointer after a good passage of Gala play, making the score 10-6.

Then, after substitute Sylvain Diez missed a penalty for Ayr, the visitors went further ahead. A huge, looping run by Robbie Ferguson was finished off by Grant Anderson, Diez converting.

Then Gala spent the last nine minutes of normal time camped in front of the posts and they finally made the pressure count when George Graham nipped in from a scrum 5 three minutes into injury time, Millar converting.

This earned Gala the bonus point, even after Diez notched another penalty deep into injury time to complete the scoring.

Graham added: “That is certainly more a case of three points dropped than one gained.

“I’ll watch the video. We will come back and iron out the kinks in what we are trying to do.

“But we need to learn very quickly or we are going to struggle to pick up points in this league.”

Gala: L. Millar; C. Robertson, C. Auld, C. Borthwick, L. Kibble; A. McLean, George Graham; L. Pettie, R. Anderson, E. McQuillin, O. Palepoi, C. Weir, Gary Graham, G. Lowrie and E. Dods. Subs: L. Bertram, L. Roden, D. Marshall, G. Young and B. Turner.