Borders' three rugby National League 1 sides hoping to keep up winning ways after starting season with victories

All three Borders teams in action in rugby’s Tennent National League Division 1 at the weekend got their first campaigns for over a year and a half off to winning starts.

By Darin Hutson
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 10:23 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 10:23 am
Gala's Liam Scott and Jack Easson in action against Stirling Wolves (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Gala's Liam Scott and Jack Easson in action against Stirling Wolves (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Gala beat Stirling Wolves 34-7 at Netherdale and Melrose were also victorious at home, seeing off Edinburgh’s Heriot’s Blues 26-15, with Kelso completing a hat-trick of victories for the region’s NL1 representatives by 31-20 away to Cartha Queen’s Park in Glasgow.

All three will be hoping to keep up those winning ways this coming weekend, with Kelso at home and Gala and Melrose both on the road.

Kelso host Highland, beaten 13-12 at home by Ayr on Saturday, with kick-off at 3pm.

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Gala's Richie Tod about to score against Stirling Wolves (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Gala go west to Ayr for a game kicking off at 1.15pm.

Melrose face Edinburgh opposition for the second week running as they play Boroughmuir, 31-28 victors over Watsonians in their opener, in the capital at 3pm.

Richie Tod scored Gala’s first try against Stirling, with Craig Dods converting then adding a penalty of his own. Unconverted tries by Murray Wilson and Jack Easson either side of the visitors’ only score of the afternoon made it 20-7 in favour of Gala, captained by Liam Scott.

Wilson and Stephen Cairns, playing his 200th game in maroon, then added further tries, both converted by Dods, to make the final scoreline 34-7.

Fergus Johnston on the ball for Gala against Stirling Wolves (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Head coach Fraser Thomson was chuffed with that win, telling Borders Rugby TV afterwards: “The main thing after beating Peebles last week was to back that up with another win at home.

“There were some good bit and bits we need to work on, but defensively we looked pretty good and to get four tries is always a bonus.”

Jake Fairley got Melrose’s try at the Greenyards, converted by Struan Hutchison, but Charlie Simpson hit back with an unconverted try for Heriot’s, followed up by another from Oisin Quinn, with Graham Wilson adding the extras to give Heriots a 12-7 lead going into the interval.

Wilson increased that lead with a penalty seven minutes into the second half, but Lewis Mallin got the hosts back on the scoresheet with an unconverted try, then a knock-on by opposition player Cameron Linnen earned him a yellow card and the hosts a penalty try.

Struan Hutchison on the ball for Melrose against Heriot's Blues (Pic: Douglas Hardie)

Four minutes from time, Donald Crawford touched down behind the posts for a bonus-point try converted by Hutchison to take the final scoreline to 26-15.

Melrose captain Richard Ferguson was pleased by that comeback, saying: “I’m absolutely delighted, particularly because of the way the game went and with Heriot’s getting on top early. I’m just really, really proud.

“We stuck to the way we wanted to play, which is to move the ball around to play to the width. We didn’t go into our shells. We did that and we got there in the end.”

Kelso’s tries were scored by Billy McNeil twice, Bruce McNeil and Dwain Patterson.

The Poynder Park side’s director of rugby, Neil Hinnigan, said: “We started off a little bit shaky. We were three points down and then we started to get into the game.

“After half-time again, we came out and we gave away a couple of silly ones and we were 13-10 down, but from there on out, the players were absolutely outstanding.”