Maroons loss all but kills off title hopes

Stirling County 24

Gala 18

PREMIER A

MARTIN LAING reports from Bridgehaugh

GALA coach George Graham was nothing if not honest in his assessment of his team’s defeat on Saturday – and the fact that the result effectively brings the club’s championship aspirations to a close.

“We were well beaten,” he admitted. “We lost the forwards battle. I thought the County pack was a lot more hungry and aggressive at the breakdown and we didn’t compete well enough.

“It was a very disappointing Gala performance and it pretty much ends our title bid.”

However, despite being clearly despondent after the encounter with Stirling, Graham tried hard to remain positive and look ahead to what can still be achieved this season, telling TheSouthern: “We must now play to finish in the top three and make sure of a place in the British and Irish Cup. And we need to try to consolidate what we have and work for the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.”

Gala were always behind in this match, conceding the first try after 14 minutes when Stirling winger Graham Lindsay sprinted clear to touch down under the posts, Brian Archibald adding the extra points.

The County kicker then chipped over a penalty after nearly half-an-hour of play, before Craig Robertson finally put the visitors on the scoreboard with a try in the corner, though Lee Millar missed with the conversion attempt.

Gala’s hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow almost immediately, however, when Danny Gilmour restored Stirling’s lead, Archibald again on target with the boot.

Robertson kept the Maroons’ spirits up with a second unconverted try right on half-time, but County hit back straight after the interval when Alex Moffat drove over for a score that Archibald yet again goalled.

Millar reduced the deficit after 47 minutes with a penalty and Gala hammered away at their hosts, with lengthy spells camped in the home 22, as they sought a way through a dogged home defence.

But they could not make the breakthrough until well into injury time, when Millar scored with almost the last play of the match. However, by then it was too little, too late, and Gala’s title hopes were dashed.

Gala: B. Turner; S. Law, L. Millar, C. Borthwick, C. Robertson; A. McLean, G. Graham, L. Bertram, R. Anderson, E. McQuillin, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, G. Graham, E. Dods, G. Lowrie. Subs: P. Stewart, S. Cairns, A. Emond, C. Dods, D. Marshall.