Gala’s chances marred by if-onlys

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Gala 5

Edinburgh Accies 6


LAING SPEIRS reports from Netherdale

If Lee Millar’s last-minute conversion had succeeded Gala supporters would have breathed the biggest sigh of relief of the season.

Trailing, by the narrowest of margins, right from the second minute, the side toiled with no success until the final seconds which generated more excitement than the entire match.

Gala made lots of mistakes, as did Accies, leaving the healthy crowd wondering just why the Maroons could not consistently string together a sequence of controlled and error-free moves.

Coach George Graham felt that the team was never clinical enough. He looked at the low average age of the side, which he felt could develop, but was realistic enough to acknowledge that there are some areas where he could wish for a more competitive squad.

Few aspects of the game went well. Some off-target passing, and wayward downfield kicking, handed control away, and even with a below-par performance by the visitors, Gala handed over initiative time and time again.

Some good features emerged from a disappointing showing by the Maroons, which has left them with an uncomfortable run-in to the final promotion games.

Tackling and general defensive work was good overall, with the likes of Opeta Palepoi ranging the field and cutting out dangerous moves. Alan Johnston and Craig Hogg showed up well in the loose, and Gala’s work in the tight was, on the whole, up to the mark.

It was the backs’ failure to make any crucial penetration that was the side’s undoing.

The worst of starts for Gala saw Ruairidh Bonner put over an easy penalty from straight in front. A promising recovery saw Johnston and Ross Livingston just inches away from scores, but Millar’s penalty miss from 35m continued to build the Maroons’ frustration.

Even the loss of Accies flanker Andy Lamb to a yellow card could not turn the game Gala’s way, and it was only their resolute defence that did anything to cheer the home support.

Turning round and trailing by the same three points, the home side looked for the George Graham pep talk to get things moving, but for once it didn’t work.

There seemed little urgency about the side, but the entry of the replacements livened things up for a while. A second penalty miss by Millar, and a decision to run instead of taking an easy kick at goal, made it look as though nothing was going right.

Bonner’s second penalty in 35 minutes when Gala went offside proved vital for the Accies, but a determined effort by the home forwards saw Weir pick up and drive over.

Millar’s third kick at the posts again veered to the left, and a relieved Accies side were home in a game which never saw Gala play to their potential.

Gala: M. Walton; G. Young, B. Dick, A. Emond, R. Livingston; L. Millar, George Graham; A. Johnston, L. Roden, C.Hogg, O. Palepoi, D.Marshall, G. Haurua, Gary Graham, E. Dods. Subs: E. McQullin,T. Weir, L. Pettie and C. Dods.