RON EVANS reports from Millbrae
BOTH sides came into the RBS Premier A match off big wins last week, but it was Gala who continued the way they left off after disposing of Melrose at Netherdale.
And in doing so, they won themselves a prime British and Irish Cup place for next season by securing third place in the league.
A penalty from Lee Miller got them on the board before the match was two minutes old.
Then, after Craig Robertson and Gavin Young almost went over, Gala pinched an Ayr throw and set up the position for Miller’s second successful penalty.
The Gala No. 10 banged over his third three-pointer in 20 minutes.
Their first try, when it came four minutes later, was simplicity itself.
Euan Dods snaffled a line-out close to the Ayr line and the home pack obligingly left a huge gap for George Graham to scoot through for the score.
Miller converted and on the half hour, a huge Gala drive with Opeta Palepoi at the heart let Graham take the ball on, jink, and put Dods over for try number two.
Miller struck yet again, then four minutes from the break, their defence held out against a series of Ayr thrusts until lock Colin White spotted a gap and dived over in the corner.
Four minutes into the second half, Robertson swooped in after some silky handling.
Miller again obliged and at 30-5, it looked all over.
Ayr have been here before, though, and struck back with tries from Scott Sutherland and Gordon Reid, and were on the scent of a third when Reid was red-carded.
It would be unfair to say it let Gala off the hook, but they took full advantage as George Graham scampered away from a ruck 30m out to score the bonus-clinching try.
Gregor Hunter, on for Miller, converted that one and took Gala to the 40-point mark with a penalty eight minutes from time.
Ayr continued to give it their all, but a penalty try and a late strike from Murray McConnell was no consolation whatsoever.
“We knew that coming to Ayr would be a huge ask,” said Gala assistant coach Scott Nicol.
“But that first half was probably the best 40 minutes we have played all season.
“Perhaps with the firm ground, we are getting back to the form we showed at the start of the campaign.”
Gala: A. McLean; G. Young, B. Turner, A. Emond, C. Robertson; L. Miller, G. Graham; L. Pettie, R. Anderson, E. McQuillan, D. Marshall, O. Palepoi, G. Graham, G. Lowrie, E. Dods. Subs: P. Stewart, S. Cairns, G. Hunter, C. Dods, C. Keddie.