LAING SPEIRS reports
FOR the first time in 135 years Gala extended a winning run against Hawick to five games.
But that brought little in the way of rejoicing in the Maroons’ camp, victory coming in a scrappy game where opportunities were missed, mistakes made in abundance and a bonus point was never in sight.
Conditions were poor, with the pitch markings having to be cleared of snow, but even so something a bit more positive should have been served up. The teams managed to scrape together one try, the result of a massive effort by the home pack, but both laid on some staunch defensive work.
Accurate handling was hard to spot on a wintry day, and some of the kicking a bit pointless and inaccurate. Lee Millar’s four penalties did the business for Gala, with Hawick’s sole chances emerging from some strenuous efforts by their forwards in the loose, even if they emerged with little to shout about from the tight play.
Gala coach George Graham was both angry and disappointed as he saw his side’s chances in the RBS Border Regional Cup given a bit of a knock through their failure to pick up a bonus point. He blamed the number of errors and turnovers for the side’s failure to win convincingly.
And Hawick’s new man in charge, Phil Leck, acknowledged that Gala had controlled the ball the better. He didn’t feel that his side had managed to play well enough, but without criticising the referee felt there had been “some interesting interpretations of the offside law”.
Rory Hutton had an afternoon of mixed success, but showed a lot of enterprise even although his link with Greg Cottrell came under continued pressure from the Netherdale back row.
It was the defensive work on both sides that was most impressive, with tackling committed and secure.
Early play favoured Gala, with some Hawick errors allowing the home scrum to set up camp near the line. It took a Millar penalty to get the scoreboard moving, and 15 minutes had passed before some interpassing among the Gala forwards saw captain Opeta Palepoi powering over for his seventh try of the season.
Millar converted, added another couple of penalties, and Gala were happily placed at an interval lead of 16-0. Hawick’s main contribution was found in forward drives led by Bruce McNeill, but Hutton and Graham Hogg had attempts to break Gala’s stranglehold in midfield.
The second half saw an improvement in Gala’s play, with kicking a bit steadier, but no further tries came to cheer up the crowd. Millar kicked a fourth penalty, but Hawick’s chances of making any sort of game of it perished with more mishandling.
It wasn’t Gala’s best showing of the season by a long way, and the Teries were far from the side that had put Peebles away a week earlier.
Gala: B. Turner; S. Law, C. Auld, C. Borthwick, C. Robertson; L. Millar, George Graham; L. Bertram, R. Anderson, E. McQuillin, O. Palepoi, C. Weir, D. Marshall, S. Cairns, T. Weir. Subs: P. Stewart, G. Lowrie, A. Emond, A. McLean, C. Keddie.
Hawick: N. Renwick; S. Anderson, G. Johnstone, G. Hogg, N. McColm; R. Hutton, G. Cottrell; S. Muir, L. Gibson, R. Sutherland, K. Willison, N. MacTaggart, B. McNeill, K. Davies, M. Robertson. Subs: H. Scammell, J. Tinlin, D. Landels, L. Armstrong, R. Scott.