Stirling County 17
LAING SPEIRS reports from Netherdale
GALA supporters are getting used to watching their team start with colourless rugby before surging into life after a lecture by coach George Grahame.
On Saturday the side took their second-half play to an entirely new level to achieve the total demolition of a potentially-strong Premiership side.
Towards the end Stirling were in tatters and their hosts were scoring virtually at will. They notched nine tries – their highest ever in a top-flight Premiership game – and it was by a long way Gala’s biggest points total against County, coach Graham’s old side.
The game was one of the two in hand that Gala had to win to catch up with league leaders Ayr. When Stirling twice took the lead before the interval only firm believers in Gala’s half-time transformation act were totally confident.
With pace in abundance, the Netherdale men cut loose with forwards Euan Dods and Craig Keddie playing like threequarters. The genuine fast men such as Craig Robertson and Gavin Young scorched over the turf.
Gala played the second-half without captain Opeta Palepoi who suffered a knee injury.
Gala’s bright opening 10 minutes produced only a Lee Millar penalty, countered by Stuart Edwards’ reply for Stirling. Then Steve Swindall found an opening for the visitors, the try converted by Edwards before the first signs of pace from Gala brought Robertson a touchdown following a quickly-taken penalty by Dods. Millar’s second penalty followed some pressure, but Tim Clarke scored for Stirling, converted by Edwards, for an interval score of 11-17.
After a pretty serious talking-to at the break, Gala moved into an impressive display of attacking rugby. Dods was first to score – and then it was one-way traffic. Robertson completed his hat-trick, Keddie finished off after a breakout by Dods, Young’s blistering pace down the left brought his a try and the rout was completed when Keddie, Dods and Alan Emond crossed the line.
Stand-off Millar’s seven second-half conversions gave him 20 points.
Gala: A. McLean; G. Somerville, C. Auld, B. Turner, C. Robertson; L. Millar, George Graham; L. Pettie, R. Anderson, E. McQuillin, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, Gary Graham, K. Mein, E. Dods. Subs: C. Mackintosh, C. Keddie, S. Cairns, G. Young, A. Emond.