Maroons keep the pressure up on Ayr

Gala 34

Edinburgh Accies 17


LAING SPEIRS reports from Netherdale

GALA’S first 30 minutes looked like setting them up for one of coach George Graham’s stern half-time lectures.

But, just in time, the forwards took matters into their own hands and upped the tempo before the break.

Two well-worked tries gave the side an interval lead and from then on it was downhill all the way.

With four tries bringing another bonus point, the Maroons picked up their eighth win in the Premiership and marginally narrowed the gap behind leaders Ayr.

It wasn’t a perfect performance, with some inconsistency from Gala early on. Accies defended well and looked dangerous at times. But they faded from the picture the longer the game went on.

Gala’s coach was a bit concerned at his side’s reading of the exchange referee’s interpretations, but was satisfied with the result. As a man with high standards, he wanted more consistency, commenting: “We must stop making silly mistakes and we must learn to adjust to the referee.”

Gala’s strength on the replacement bench proved a handy card to be able to play, with the team adjusting positively to the changes. Some robust work up front was matched by a fair amount of incisive running.

With Gala’s scoring regularly reaching the 20s and 30s, the season’s try count is ticking over well.

Lee Millar and Gavin Young were penetrative runners, and the front row had an afternoon of considerable success. The line-out, too, was a lot more effective than in some recent games.

The Accies won the opening ping-pong exchanges on territory and edged ahead with a penalty from Ruaridh Bonner in six minutes.

They looked impressive and ended an onslaught on the Gala line with a try from Euan Bonner, converted by Ruaridh.

The Netherdale men’s limited efforts produced nothing until 
they took up post near the 
visitors’ line and some determined efforts by the pack saw Opeta Palepoi score another of his trademark tries, Millar converting.

After seeing off a useful break from Euan Bonner, Gala came back just on half-time and following a winning line-out, home prop Luke Pettie went over between the posts. Millar’s kick gave the home side a 14-10 interval advantage.

Accies’ forwards restarted strongly, with Alex Black scoring for Ruaridh Bonner to add the points that gave the city side the lead for the second time.

Interval replacements saw Gala’s new winger, Gerald Sibanda, come on, making his first appearance since being injured in his opening game against Currie.

But the unlucky player was on the field for only a cameo appearance before his shoulder was put out and he departed for hospital. However, he played long enough to score a fine try down the right-hand side, with two Accies players beaten for pace and left for dead.

If injuries are not a problem, he looks a most useful acquisition.

Millar’s conversion from the corner was the charge that Gala needed and the stand-off made an impressive break, kicked a penalty and than converted a classic try scored by replacement Gavin Young.

Craig Robertson kept the ball in play down the left-hand touchline and Young followed up at speed to get the touchdown far out.

With the bonus point secured, Gala quietened down, Millar added a penalty and the game fizzled out with no more excitement.

Gala: A. McLean; G. Somerville, C. Auld, B. Turner, C. Robertson; L. Millar, George Graham; L. Pettie, R. Anderson, E. McQuillin, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, Gary Graham, K. Mein, E. Dods. Subs: C. Mackintosh, C. Keddie, S. Cairns, G. Sibanda and G. Young.