Gala upbeat for prospects next season in rugby's Tennent's National League Division 1 after near miss this time round

They might have come up just short in their challenge for promotion to rugby’s Tennent’s Premiership but Gala can look back on this season with pride and take confidence from it going into their next campaign, according to club president Neil Dalgleish.

By Darin Hutson
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 12:44 pm
Murray Wilson on the ball for Gala away to Dundee on Saturday (Photo: Alwyn Johnston)
Murray Wilson on the ball for Gala away to Dundee on Saturday (Photo: Alwyn Johnston)

The Galashiels side wrapped up their Tennent’s National League Division 1 season with a 36-25 victory at Dundee on Saturday, but that result ended up counting for nothing as Heriot’s Blues were handing out a 48-17 away thumping to Cartha Queen’s Park at the same time, putting them a single point clear at the top of the table.

Gala and Heriot’s records for the season were almost identical, both having won 18 games and lost four, but the Edinburgh side edged their title race by virtue of two extra try bonus points, 17 to 15, though the Borderers had picked up one more losing bonus point, having got three to their capital rivals’ two.

Their disappointment at just missing out on promotion was offset by pride at having got so close to going up under a new coaching team led by Fraser Thomson and with many new players, however, said Dalgleish.

Gala captain Rex Jeffrey coming up against Dundee's Grant Harley (Photo: Alwyn Johnston)

“It wasn’t the case that we fell short at the end. It was just that we didn’t get enough bonus points during the season to take us up there, “ he said.

“Our intention at the start of the season was to try to get into the top three or four of the league as we were really making a fresh start with a new coaching team and a very young squad, and that bodes well for next season and the seasons beyond that.

"Next season, we’ll be looking to go as far as we can. The trouble with sport is that there are so many imponderables.

“We did manage to get through last season with not too many injuries, though we did have some, and injuries can disrupt your season so it’s very difficult to set any absolute targets as sport isn’t like that, unfortunately.

Ben Gill touching down for Gala against Dundee (Photo: Alwyn Johnston)

“We’re very pleased with the coaching team we’ve got. It’s all working very well, and we’re looking forward to next season.”

Gala’s aim now, he says, is to keep that squad together as much as possible and set their sights on ending up one league place higher next time round.

“We’re fortunate, having taken a decision a few years ago about relying on our own resources, that the team really are a local team so hopefully we’ll have most of them available for next season, and that’s good,” said Dalgleish.

“They’re a young team. We’ve got some very good youngsters coming up through our pathway for under-16s and under-18s for the seasons to come, so we’re looking forward to the future.”

Looking back at last weekend’s swan-song for the season, Dalgleish said: “To go up to Dundee, which is never an easy place to go to, and come away with a bonus-point win, we were very happy to finish on that note.”

Three of Gala’s tries against Dundee were scored by Fergus Johnston, with Ben Gill, Harris Rutherford and Jack Easson getting the others and Scott Peffers converting three of them.

Dalgleish was less happy about the match that ended up being this season’s title decider, his side’s 22-19 home defeat by Heriot’s on Saturday, April 16, saying: “It was a big occasion, with a big crowd, and there was obviously a lot riding on the game.

“There’s a load of stuff there I’d prefer not to get into about whether it was a level playing field or not but Heriot’s put out an extremely strong side including players that had signed up for the Super6 for Heriot’s but were allowed to play in a club game. They had been playing in club games all season but, notwithstanding that, it didn’t feel quite right.”