Just magic as Wands hold out

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Gala Wanderers 20

Tynedale Colts 17

BORDERS SEMI-JUNIOR CUP FINAL

BOTH Gala Wanderers and Tynedale Colts travelled to a sunny but chilly Berwick for the final of the Border Cup on Saturday, and served up an exciting encounter for the large crowd.

Wanderers started off the livelier and a Gregor Mein penalty gave them a great start after only three minutes.

The larger Tynedale forwards began to take more control, but the little mistakes they made were punished by the clever kicks by Mein to push them back deep into their own half. After 14 minutes, a well-controlled drive by the Gala forwards forced Tynedale to collapse the maul 7m from their own line. Quick thinking and a quick tap by Josh Irvine allowed him to force his way over for a fine individual try, Mein converting for a 10-point lead.

A mistake from the resulting kick-off gave Tynedale the opportunity to reduce the deficit with a well-struck penalty. With the half-time whistle imminent a well-weighted chip into the in-goal area by Rex Jeffrey allowed Mein to run through the Tynedale defence to score. His conversion gave Wanderers a healthy 17-3 interval lead.

Tynedale started the stronger after the restart, and with a change of tactic, using their much bigger forwards to good effect, pinned Gala in their own half for almost the entire second half. Some brave and often heroic tackling by the Wanderers’ team, including great try-saving tackles by full back Keith Young and winger Murray Lemmon, kept the Tynedale side to only two tries, both converted, the latter from the touchline, to bring the sides level at 17-17.

With only three minutes to go, a rare raid into the Tynedale half saw Mein chip over the heads of the Tynedale defence, only to be pulled back by the full back.

This was well spotted by the referee, who gave Gala a penalty 30m out. Mein kept his cool and slotted the kick to retake the lead for his team.

More drama was to follow as Wanderers failed to field the kick-off, giving the big Tynedale pack momentum towards the Gala line. More heroic tackling and a great team effort forced the Englishmen to knock-on over the Gala line in the last move of the match.

Both teams deserve great praise for giving the crowd such an exciting final which was a great advert for Borders semi-junior rugby.

Gala Wanderers 2011/12 squad: A. Williams, B. Reavely, C. Hunter, C. Hancock, F. Welsh, G. Hamilton, G. Dun, G. Mein, G. Millar, H. Brown, J. Parker, J. Hearnden, J. Irvine, K. Young, K. Austin, K. Bennett, L. Armstrong, L. Pringle, L. Scott, M. Blackwood, M. Howarth, M. Lemmon, R. Jeffrey, R. Horsburgh, R. Headspeath, R. Paterson, S. Anderson, S. McFarlane, S. McNeil, W. Easson.