Gala 33 Ayr 34
To lose a match by one point is hard enough, but to miss out on the first national title for 31 years by the same narrow margin saw Gala leave their big support in despair.
Gala have developed a habit of waiting for a second half revival to see them through some tricky games.
On Saturday the reawakening came just too late to save their title bid in a game where their forwards had the edge on Ayr, but where some poor first half tackling opened the door to a slick and impressive bunch of runners.
And the irony of the game was that twice the Gala backs had set themselves up for what could have been decisive scores after running out from deep, if passes had gone to hand.
In the most dramatic of finishes Gala missed out with a late flurry of tries all scored by their forwards, while Ayr got a vital break when Gala’s cover of a kick-off went badly wrong.
It was a day when nerves could have been blamed for the defeat, but it was a few basic playing errors that did the damage.
Coach George Graham, who had brought his side through a good few big second half performances this season, was, in his own words, “heart broken” by the result.
He knew that Gala had not done quite enough to win the match and the Premiership, and now has the task of lifting the team for a Cup semi final on Saturday.
“It was hard to take, but we didn’t earn a win today. We just didn’t play well enough in the first half.”
And yet, even in that first period, Gala were in the lead for long periods. David O’Hagan kicked four good penalties, and hit the post with another from far out.
But this went for little as Ayr’s pacy runners, aid by some indecisive tackling, ran in three tries from Craig and Kerr Gossman, and back row man James Eddie, with Glasgow Warriors stand-off Finn Russell adding a
In the second half Gala left it late to pick up the game, tries from Rory Sutherland, Tom Weir and Opeta Palepoi, all converted by O’Hagan, building the big finish. But, by that time, Ayr tries from Ross Curle and Kerr Gossman, with Russell kicking a penalty and two conversion had left Gala short of time and that one vital point.
Gala: A.McLean; G. Somerville, C. Auld, E. Scott, G. Sibanda; D. O.Hagan, E. Gunter; R. Sutherland, C.Mackintosh, E. McQullin, C. Borthwick, O. Palepoi, Gary Graham, S. Cairns, E. Dods. Subs: L.
Bertram, S. Chapman, T. Weir, G. Mein, G. Speirs.
Ayr: G. Anderson; C. Gossman, R. Curle, D. Kubrick, K. Gossman; F. Russell, M. McConnell; D. Mutamangira, F. Scott, D. Rae, S. Sutherland, C. Templeton, J. Eddie, A. Dunlop, P. McCallum . Subs: S. Fenwick, G. Sykes, P. Jericevich, G. Fisken, R. Ferguson.