Gala 31 Glasgow Hawks 33
RBS SCOTTISH CUP SEMI-FINAL
When the next history of Gala rugby comes to be printed there will be some black edged pages covering March 2014.
For the second consecutive game at Netherdale the Maroons scored more than 30 points without recording a win.
The League loss by one point was hard enough for Gala to take, but the Cup semi final defeat by the last kick of the game was just as harsh.
And yet a neutral supporter - and there were certainly some - would have found the match an entertaining and exciting spectacle.
For once Gala’s highly acclaimed second half play came off second best. They were leading 31-19 just three minutes after the break but when the usual changes were introduced the team lost its rhythm for twenty crucial minutes.
Penalties were given away with reckless generosity and with Jack Steele in immaculate form it was a handout that cost Gala dearly.
Coach George Graham took the late defeat hard but captain for the day Craig Borthwick was able to look forward.
“We have to go for the Border League title - we have to get ourselves back together,” he told TheSouthern.
The Gala pack was impressive on occasions, but never took complete control. Rory Sutherland was a mobile and invaluable prop, and the back row competed well. But Opeta Palepoi’s departure was significant.
Gala’s half backs could never impose themselves on the Hawks, and made only marginal impact. Missing their two regular centres, Gala were lacking serious threat in midfield, although Alan Emond had a couple of breaks which were impressive.
In a game that surged backwards and forwards play was fast and exciting. An early Dods try converted by O’Hagan came from a powerful maul, but a strong run by Sutherland was turned to Hawks’ advantage and ended with a try by Gavin Lowe, converted by Steele.
An O’Hagan penalty was countered by Haddon McPherson’s try converted by Steele. With the Gala pack dominating Dods scored again, O’Hagan converting, but Hawks’ fullback Dan Smart dodged through for an
Palepoi got the credit for a try when Gala overpowered a shorthanded Hawks’ pack, O’Hagan converting for an interval lead of 24-19.
When Gala added an O’Hagan try and conversion just after the restart memories of the previous Saturday began to fade, but a try by Mateusz Bartoszek sent up alarm signals.
A poor lineout throw and a weak scrum saw Gala very much on the back foot, and Steele put over a couple of penalties to bring up a scoreline of 31-30.
A big touchline run by Craig Robertson was the best Gala could offer, and they tried hard to hold on to a desperately thin lead.
O’Hagan missed a penalty and Gala sought to keep possession by going for touch rather than the posts with injury time looming.
But vital control was lost at the lineout, Hawks clawed their way with the help of a double penalty two metres over the midfield line, and Steele landed a huge goal with the last kick of the day.
The only consolation the Gala support could find was that they can now go to Hawick sevens rather than Cumbernauld.
Gala: A. McLean; G. Somerville, G. Mein, A. Emond, G. Sibanda; D. O.Hagan, E. Gunter; R. Sutherland, C.Mackintosh, E. Johnstone, C. Borthwick, O. Palepoi, Gary Graham, S. Cairns, E. Dods. Subs: L. Bertram, S. Chapman, T. Weir, C. Weir, R. Anderson, C. Robertson, C. Dods.