Maroons almost seduced into false sense of security

GALASHIELS,  UNITED KINGDOM - 29 Oct 2011'RBS Premier 1 Rugby'Gala v Aberdeen'FT score 30-17'(Photo by  ROB GRAY/digitalpic/freelance )
GALASHIELS, UNITED KINGDOM - 29 Oct 2011'RBS Premier 1 Rugby'Gala v Aberdeen'FT score 30-17'(Photo by ROB GRAY/digitalpic/freelance )

Gala 30

Aberdeen GSFP 17

RBS PREMIER ONE

LAING SPEIRS reports from Netherdale

A dose of mathematics will be on the training schedule at Netherdale this week, when the Gala players will be told firmly that two halves make a whole, and that both bits will be needed on Saturday.

George Graham was relaxed at half-time against Aberdeen Grammar, but was a very different man 40 minutes later after watching his side ease off dramatically following the speedy collection of a four-try bonus point.

But when Aberdeen picked up three good tries just before and after the break, Gala failed to find the extra gear that would have put the visitors to sleep.

So many good features marked the first-half performance that it was a major surprise to find Gala still in a competitive game with half an hour to go.

The Maroons had control of the line-out, the breakdown and the scrum, as well as being the more inventive and imaginative.

They carried pace in wingers Shaun Law and Craig Robertson, with Craig Borthwick having one of his best games for Gala. The half-back pairing continued its successful season, and the pack was forward-looking and powerful in several big surges.

Where then did it all go sour for Gala? Probably, according to coach Graham, because they took their foot off both the gas, and the Aberdeen neck.

“They thought they had won the game at half-time, and everything they tried was coming off. It was all too easy.”

But Aberdeen carried a bit of class in the three-quarters themselves, and their tries were all well conceived and executed.

If they had managed a fourth try, and squeezed a bit nearer Gala’s early lead, it would have been rewards well merited.

The air of confidence and competence which has marked the Maroons’ play this season was apparent early on. Lee Millar continued his kicking success with an early penalty, and George Graham nipped through from scrum-half to collect a ball well won at the line-out.

Borthwick kicked cleverly long and hard to the corner, and Law streaked in for a try.

Scrum-half Graham made a good break and released Andy McLean for a try goaled by Millar, and captain Opeta Palepoi ended a big drive by the home pack with a score, again converted by Millar.

Just before the break Aberdeen’s Apelu Alapati ran clear far out on the right to score, and when the game got going again the visitors dramatically pulled themselves right back into the match with a couple of good scores, one by Alex Dunbar, and the other from Alapati, Rob Aloe converting the second.

With Gala’s tackling a bit shaky, Aberdeen might have done more, but Millar ended the scoring as he had started it, with a penalty goal.

Aberdeen had had transport problems, which may have taken the edge off their first half game, but it was full speed ahead after the break.

Certainly Gala cannot afford another second half performance in this season where they have exceeded all expectations.

Gala: A. McLean; S. Law, C. Auld, C. Borthwick, C. Robertson; L. Millar, George Graham; L. Bertram, R. Anderson, E.McQuillin, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, D. Marshall, Gary Graham, E. Dods. Subs: J. Gilding, G. Lowrie, A. Emond, G. Hunter, C. Keddie.