If Gala had been seeking a confidence boost ahead of this weekend’s BT Premiership match then their error-filled display against Kelso in the Booker Border League match at Netherdale dashed any such hopes.
Instead, Gala coach George Graham, in spite of watching his side take victory, was left distinctly unimpressed with his team’s showing against the Poynder Park men.
“I’m bitterly disappointed with our performance,” he said.
“It was just unforced errors and I’m at a loss to explain why. OK, we had a few new faces in the team, but at the end of the day it was probably the highest count of unforced errors.
“To be fair, Kelso are a very good defensive side. They were quick coming off the line, but we did nothing to dent that defence. We just shipped the ball wide and expected to get round the corner.”
For their part, Kelso, also fielding several reserves, were certainly fired up for this game and, guided by the experienced Andrew Skeen, their backs threatened on a number of occasions. But it was Kelso’s defence that upset Gala’s rhythm, and notably the tackling of former age-grade cap Frankie Robson in the centre.
“Today was only a building block,” said Kelso coach Gary Holburn. “I know now the players have it in them to be aggressive. There was night and day between the performance of today and last week.”
Yet, for all their travails in the middle part of the game, Gala had opened well with a try by Euan Dods from a tap penalty and the conversion by Craig Dods, before winger Shaun Law extended the Maroons’ lead with a touchdown.
Gala, however, were unable to build on their advantage, and it was Kelso who claimed the next score, with a spectacular interception and 80m sprint from scrum half Andrew Tait for a try under the posts, leaving Skeen with a simple conversion.
Four minutes into the second half, the home men worked a line-out move that resulted in a try for hooker Russell Anderson, but Kelso responded in style as Robson carved out a try for Mark Wilson. Skeen’s conversion brought them to within three points of their Premiership opponents.
Kelso, with the scent of victory in their nostrils, were desperately unlucky not to draw level after Skeen’s drop goal attempt rebounded off the posts. Gala then brought on Opeta Palepoi and the big lock made his presence felt with a late try, converted by Dods to give the Maroons a 10-point margin of victory.