Netherdale selectors keep faith with semis squad

SELECTING a team is difficult at the best of times but for Gala RFC coaches George Graham and Scott Nichol this week, the task reached well beyond the challenging when they were deciding which 22 players would grace the Murrayfield turf on Saturday.

In the end, they went for the outfit that battled so bravely in the semi-final to grind out a victory over Dundee, with one exception. Russell Anderson will return to his regular hooker berth in place of Craig Keddie who will start on the bench. One suspects the latter, a natural middle/back row player, will be mighty relieved after the battering he took up north. Because the cup final requires 22 players, utility back Craig Dods also takes a place on the bench.

Speaking to TheSouthern on Wednesday, Graham said: “Picking the team was very difficult but we hope the guys who have not been selected will come up and lend their support.

“There is a lot of nervous tension around this week but we had an excellent training session on Tuesday night and everyone is looking forward to Saturday.”

At the last count Gala RFC had 12 bus loads fully booked but there are still places available. Anyone wishing to book a seat should do so by close of play today at the old Southern Reporter office opposite Macari’s cafe, Galashiels, or can email before 1pm.

Tickets and merchandise for the match can also be purchased from the shop up until closing time on Friday and at Netherdale up until 12.20pm on Saturday.

All the money from ticket sales goes to Gala RFC if they are purchased through these dedicated outlets.

The Team

A. McLean; G. Young, B. Turner, A. Emond, C. Robertson; L. Miller, George Graham; L. Pettie, R. Anderson, E. McQuillin, O. Palepoi, C. Weir, Gary Graham, G. Lowrie, E. Dodds. Subs: P. Stewart, D. Marshall, C. Keddie, S. Cairns, C. Borthwick, F. Hunter, C. Dods.

z Border League clubs met last week to discuss the future format of the competition.

A decision has yet to be made, but TheSouthern understands that the current pool system will be adopted again, with eight teams instead of 10. Hawick YM may replace Haddington while Berwick and Langholm could be asked to step down. The intention is to eliminate the one-sided ties seen in recent years and talks to introduce a second league competition involving district sides are ongoing.

Border League secretary John Thorburn told TheSouthern: “We cannot comment on any changes yet. There is another meeting next week and details will be announced after that.”

It also looks likely that next year’s RBS Cup will feature a quarter-final stage in which the four British & Irish Cup teams will be given an automatic bye.

If implemented, the addition would guarantee three Borders teams into that stage of the competition. Melrose and Gala would automatically qualify with the Borders’ six other Top 40 teams, Hawick, Jed-Forest, Selkirk, Kelso, Peebles and Hawick YM, entering the Border Regional Cup.

Gala and Hawick will thrash out this year’s title in a midweek fixture at Philiphaugh on Wednesday night (kick-off 7pm).

Scottish Premier One Champions Melrose will be presented with their trophy at the Greenyards tomorrow night (6.30pm). All welcome.