GALA’S hard-earned win in dreadful conditions left them handily placed for their two catch-up games, writes Laing Speirs.
It was at times a stern affair, but a win of any size or quality was what Gala needed to keep themselves poised for a title challenge, and right from the off it was clear that a try bonus point was as unlikely as the sun breaking through.
There was never any pretention from coach George Graham that this was anything other than a defining match.
“That was not a pretty game, but it was all about getting a win,” he told TheSouthern.
“We knew we were in for a tough match. Heriots are a very good side and it was nervous at the end when they were knocking at the door.
“But our discipline at critical moments was phenomenal.”
Defences generally ruled the game, with some resolute tackling from both sides. Gala’s midfield trio were prominent, and scrum-half Grayson Hart neatly filled in again for George Graham who might be back in the squad this weekend. Gala’s forwards looked the part with a fairly robust physical presence. The Edinburgh backrow man Ollie Atkins, the second New South Wales Waratahs player in the maroon jersey, showed he knew his way around, and as always Ewan McQuillan was prominent in breakouts.
Ewan Scott’s penalty in 11 minutes was the only scoring in a first half which lacked much colour, and it was Heriots who were breathing the heavier as the interval came near.
The good-sized crowd had to wait five minutes into the second period for the try which lifted the Maroons, and it was well worth the wait.
Gala had a footing near the line, and when the ball went right some neat handling involving both Gala wingers Craig Robertson and Grant Somerville saw the latter squeeze in at the corner.
Graham Wilson’s brace of penalties brought life into Heriots, and when Chris Weir collected a yellow card Wilson put his side in front for the first time with another penalty.
Both Scott and Wilson had further unsuccessful shots at the posts, but the incessant rain was not making things any easier.
The end was only 10 minutes away when the Gala man eased the tension with the simplest penalty kick of the afternoon, taking the Netherdale outfit to the narrow lead they refused to part with.