Gala on their guard as the shooting season begins

HAVING made it clear this week that he has no intentions of hot-footing it up to Murrayfield to claim the recently vacated Scotland head coach position (see Stuart Cameron’s column on page 27) George Graham has some serious business to attend to this weekend.

Now sitting two points clear of Ayr at the top of the Premiership table, Gala have a huge task in front of them when they travel to Millbrae to take on the challengers on Saturday, and the Maroons’ head honcho is concentrating on keeping his own team in a winning frame of mind.

“It’s a big game for us, that’s for sure, there will be no easy games now,” he told TheSouthern after his team ground out a hard-fought victory over local rivals and title holders Melrose last week.

“Whether we win, or get any points at all at Ayr, it is going to be a really tight run-in for both clubs.

“There is a lot of history to contend with. Last year, we were sitting at the top of the league just after Christmas and then we fell to pieces.

“We lost three or four games which consequently lost us a place in the title race.

“We need to learn from that. We know what to expect from being the league leaders now, so we can deal with it.

“At the end of the day, everyone is going to want to shoot us off the top. But they are all looking up and we are looking down and we will be trying as hard as we can to stay in that position.”

For Melrose, any hopes of retaining their title more or less died at the Greenyards last weekend, but that won’t stop them making an impact.

Assistant coach John Daziel admitted that the priorities of the team would change, the British and Irish Cup still in their sights, but they would still be looking to cause a few upsets in the league.

This week, the Melrose men travel to play Heriot’s at Goldenacre, while Kelso are the only local team to have a game in the Borders when they play Glasgow Hawks at Poynder Park.

See panel below for other fixtures.

z Galashiels Academy booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Under-18 Plate competition after defeating North Berwick High School 7-5 at Recreation Park on Tuesday in the East Lothian and Borders regional final.

The win has given the Academy a home tie against Linlithgow Academy, reckoned to be the weakest side in the last eight, and a good chance of reaching the semi-final.

Against North Berwick High School, who have enjoyed a number of high-profile fixtures this season against independent schools, Galashiels Academy answered an early home try with an impressive score before half-time by stand-off Ruari Howarth. Crucially, centre Keith Young nailed the winning conversion.

“We defended very well in the second half and achieved a number of vital turnovers,” said Galashiels coach, Lewis Bertram.

Outstanding for Galashiels were flanker Harry Brown and scrum half Gavin Hamilton.

Galashiels Academy: C. Nicholson; K. Millar, D. Nicholson, K. Young, C. Hunter; R. Howarth, G. Hamilton; G. Yeomens, D. Moir, G. Robertson, L. Pringle, E. Pflug, L. Scott, H. Brown, J. Irvine. Subs: I. Handley, J. Brown, P. Glenfield, G. Beaumont.