PETER SKED reports from Netherdale
PERHAPS it was no surprise that Melrose retained the Waverley Cup at Netherdale on Monday, but the result proved positive for both sides.
Melrose gained vital preparation for the British and Irish Cup clash against Esher on Monday, while Gala learned that they still had a lot to do if they want to compete with the big boys next season.
Late tries from Callum Anderson and Gary Holborn sealed the win against a gallant Gala side, who are aiming to join the Greenyards men in the top flight. Melrose showed their experience when it was needed and the late scores ensured that the Premiership 1 team grabbed victory.
Forwards coach John Dalziel said: “It was tough and Gala made it very hard for us. That game was very important as our preparations have been badly hit by the weather.
“We wanted to build on our first-half performance against Munster and there is a great surface here. Both teams were a bit rusty and Gala are looking to come up, and we knew that it would be a challenge for us.”
Maroons coach George Graham told us: “I am disappointed, but Melrose were a bit more experienced – and that is what we have to aspire to if we want to play in Premiership 1 next season.
“The level that Melrose played at the start and end of the game was a test for us. We are a very young side. We are still an ongoing and very young team and I am not using that as an excuse. We are not ready yet for the first division, but that is not to say we will not try to get there.”
Melrose got off to the best start in the first minute when Gala came in from the side and Scott Wight banged over the penalty. Dalziel then added a try, which Wight converted, and the visitors were in the driving seat.
Lee Millar and Wight exchanged penalties and Millar added a second three-pointer after Hayden Mitchell spoke back at the referee.
Wight hit the post with a penalty and added the extras when Robert Chrystie touched down.
Three minutes from the break, Melrose failed to clear and Millar won the race for the touchdown and added the conversion.
Gala forced the game after the break when Jamie Murray was yellow-carded for his challenge on George Graham, but it was Melrose who stretched their lead with Wight’s third penalty.
Millar again cut the gap to bring his points total for the season to 147 before Gala No.8 Tom Weir became the second player to be sent to the sin-bin, and the visitors put the game beyond doubt with the late tries and two Wight conversions.
Gala: C. Dods; G. Young, M. Walton, A. Emond, R. Livingston; L. Millar, George Graham; A. Johnston, E. McQuillin, L. Pettie, O. Palepoi, D. Marshall, Gary Graham, G. Haurua and T. Weir. Subs: S. Cairns, L. Roden, P. Stewart, R. Lindsay, M. Welsh, S. Chapman and F. Hunter.
Melrose: F. Thomson; C. Anderson, J. Murray, C. Jackson, J. Helps, S. Wight, R. Chrystie; N. Little, G. Innes, N. Beavon, H. Mitchell, R. Miller, G. Elder, J. Dalziel and G. Dodds. Subs: R. Ferguson, G. Holburn, D. Crawford, S. Johnson, S. McCormick, C. Hardie and D. Dodds.
z Monday’s games between Langholm and Peebles, and Jed-Forest and Hawick were called off.