Souters keep their heads to take pole position in race to title

Gala Wands v Selkirk Youth Club. Gregor Mein breaks free with Selkirk's Josh Welsh in close attendance.
Gala Wands v Selkirk Youth Club. Gregor Mein breaks free with Selkirk's Josh Welsh in close attendance.

Gala Wanderers 25

Selkirk Youth Club 26

SEMI-JUNIOR LEAGUE

A GREAT advert for Borders rugby.

That was the general consensus following this action-packed potential league decider played out at Netherdale on Saturday which Selkirk Youth Club won with the last kick of the game.

And even though he was disappointed that his team had lost out at the end of the day, Gala rugby youth development officer Ian Millar heaped praise on all taking part.

He told TheSouthern: “Both teams wanted to get out there and play rugby, and in doing that they put on an entertaining display which both sets of supporters enjoyed immensely. I can’t praise the teams enough for both their performances and their conduct throughout the match.”

A large crowd turned out for the top-of-the-table clash, played out on the main pitch, and they weren’t to be disappointed.

Following a nervous start, the teams quickly settled and Selkirk were first to put points on the board through a Josh Welsh penalty.

The teams were both trying to run the ball at every opportunity and play moved all over the pitch.

Gala were having the better of the line-outs and after nine minutes, following a good spell of possession, the hosts equalised when Gregor Mein knocked over a similar effort.

The well-drilled Maroon forwards caused the Youth Club pack some problems, but in turn visiting stand-off Callum McEwan proved to be a handful. Indeed, it was his alertness when taking a quick penalty midway through the half that led to Kieran Monks touching down in the corner to put Selkirk ahead.

Gala came storming back and on 20 minutes Mein notched a second penalty to close the gap. They continued to pile on the pressure and managed to edge towards the Youth Club try line, only to be met by some determined defending.

Welsh used his strength to gain possession back for the visitors and from an incisive break by McEwan they recycled the ball and hooker Ross Purves touched down in the Gala corner to make the score 13-6 at half-time.

The Wanderers pack took control right from the restart and worked their way towards the Youth Club try line and, after a number of phases of play and penalties conceded, John Hearnden scored near the corner and Mein converted to level the scores.

After weathering yet another home attack, the young Souters were awarded a penalty which Welsh converted into points to nose his team in front again.

This lead only lasted for a few minutes, however, as the Gala forwards drove their way into the 22 and, from a quickly taken penalty, Rex Jeffrey touched down.

Play restarted and remained highly entertaining with both teams trying to gain the upper hand. After 21 minutes of the second half, the Youth Club won their own scrum just outside the Gala 22 and McEwan danced his way past a number of Gala players to score, with Welsh converting.

With 10 minutes remaining the Youth Club had their influential hooker sent to the sin-bin, reducing them to 14 players, and Gala began to dominate the game.

After winning a few scrums they worked their way close to the Youth Club try line and Ryan Headspeath burst over to score, with Mein striking the conversion over to take the lead by 25-23.

With very little time left, Welsh kicked off, only for one of the Gala forwards to knock on.

The Youth Club won the scrum and put Gala under pressure and were awarded a penalty about 30m from the posts, Welsh held his nerve and knocked the ball between the sticks and the referee blew his whistle for full-time.

Selkirk Youth Club: K. Monks; T. Duncan, L. McLennan, J. Welsh, K. Stillie; C. McEwan, T. Penman; F. McKerracher, R. Purves, C. Turnbull, J. Houston, A. Nichol, J. Haughey, S. McLemont, C. Grieve. Subs: B. Riddell, S. Hendrie, B. Mennie, J. Lunt, F. Watt, J. Elliot.

Gala Wanderers: J. Parker; M. Lemmon, F. Welsh, G. Mein, A. Williams; R. Jeffrey, K. Young; K. Austin, K. Bennett, J. Hearnden, L. Scott, G. Millar, R. Horsburgh, M. Howarth, J. Irvine. Subs: R. Paterson, S. Mcfarlane, S. McNeil, S. Anderson, R. Headspeath, G. Dun, M. Blackwood.