Gala YM 3
Hawick Harlequins 6
RBS REGIONAL BOWL FINAL
STUART CAMERON reports from Netherdale
PLAYED on the main pitch at Netherdale, with a slot in the National semi-final of the competition the main prize for the winners, a lot was at stake in this East Region final.
The strong wind and torrential rain for a lot of the game caused havoc and there were plenty of errors from both sides.
Harlequins won the toss and decided to play against the wind, which was a brave decision as many thought the wind advantage would be worth at least 20 points.
When YM captain Michael Dodds opened the scoring with a penalty on eight minutes, and his team playing the conditions well with long kicks downfield, it looked as if they could put some points on the board, but mistakes and a well-organised Quins defence kept them out.
There was no further scoring in the first period until the 40-minute mark when Quins fly half Liam Lawrence put over a cheeky drop goal on the stroke of half-time to level the score.
He had tried one two minutes earlier and, despite the dreadful conditions, both were fine efforts.
The odds swung back in the Hawick team’s favour and the smart money would have been on them to run away with it.
However, YM’s forwards won the pack contest despite veteran Kiwi number 8 Ricki Kiore being a thorn in their side all afternoon. The player-coach had a magnificent game. The YM pack were well drilled, though, and sent their opponents backwards several times and even won a couple of scrums against the head. They stopped Quins from scoring any tries and in this very tight game a penalty from Lawrence on 55 minutes was the only score of the second half.
On the hour, a bad leg injury to Gala centre Gavin Dalgleish saw all the players leaving the pitch for 10 minutes while he was attended to.
Quins, in the end, just about deserved their victory – they were a little hungrier than Gala YM and a little more streetwise in an otherwise disappointing game riddled with handling errors, poor kicking and bad decision-making.
There were some good moments in the game, too, which threatened to spark it into life, but crossing the whitewash proved difficult. YM did manage it once in the second period, but a forward pass denied them the try.
Unfortunately, because the way the Cup, Shield and Bowl competitions are structured this season, Quins will have to wait until March before they play their semi-final – hopefully in better conditions – so they can put all their efforts into moving further up the East League Two table where they currently sit in third place, just behind Dunbar and Dalkeith, with four games to play.
Quins’ man of the match Kiore told TheSouthern: “We planned on keeping it deep and pinning them in their own 22 and looking at our defence to hold them out, and it was tremendous how the boys stuck in.
“In the last few weeks the boys have begun to link up better and play together better, and we hope we can keep those good results going.”
YM skipper Michael Dodds was disappointed. “It was never going to be a day for open rugby,” he told us. “We tried to make a game out of it, but it was scrappy out there with lots of handling errors and we’re gutted that we lost by only three points.”
Gala YM: J. McGlasson; A. Wood, J. McGaughey, G. Dalgleish, R. Hedderley; M. Dodds, D. Wood; M. Lees, M. Kibble, K. Ramage, M. Darling, M. Horsburgh, M. Miller, G. Miller, S. Turnbull. Subs: M. O’Donnell, T. Renwick, L. Kibble, J. Dick, K. Mein, L. Playfair.
Hawick Harlequins: S. Peffers; A. Hall, R. Anderson, N. Douglas, K. Richardson; L. Lawrence, R. McPherson; C. Richardson, G. McLeod, D. Johnstone, R. Smith, A. Hepburn, R. Nichol, G. Rogerson, R. Kiore. Subs: G. Anderson, G. Grierson, A. Pretswell, C. Nichol, N. Anderson, S. Robson, G. Lothian.
z You can watch highlights from the match on Borders Rugby TV at www.BordersRugby.net