Stirling bring out the very worst in winning Gala side



Stirling County3

Gala face Hawick at Mansfield Park in the Premiership this weekend, having set what Maroons coach George Graham hinted was a low benchmark for the season.

Graham was talking about their RBS Cup win over Stirling County that propelled the Netherdale side into their third successive semi-final.

“It was a comfortable win, but it was the worst game of rugby Gala’s played all season,” he told The Southern.

“I was very disappointed with how we played the game. There were so many errors –forced errors to be fair – and bad decisions. I was just generally disappointed that we had so much dominance in all aspects of the game and we never capitalised.”

Graham’s words were in fact a warning to his players not to expect the same easy victory when Gala play Stirling a week on Saturday in the penultimate round of the league.

“We need to play a bit better if we want to win that game,” he added.

While Gala’s performance was not the flowing spectacle many of the Netherdale fans had hoped for, there was, on a bitterly cold day, much to warm the hearts of rugby purists. And not least Gala’s set-scrum which at times threatened to pulverise Stirling, in no small part due to props Ewan McQuillan and Rory Sutherland.

“He’s a quality player” said Graham, in praise of former Hawick man Sutherland.

““He’ll get better and better. He’s just so explosive. He absolutely dominated in the scrum and his ball handling skills are good.

“It’s a strange thing to say, but he’s only 17st. And that’s fairly light. I think that he could put on a stone or three quarters of a stone which would put him up with these boys in Edinburgh. If they’re looking for props they should certainly be looking at Rory,” added Graham, who as a former Scotland loosehead prop, knows a thing or two about front row qualities.

Gala’s dominance in the set scrum and their flawless line-out was always going to determine the outcome of the game, albeit their half-time lead of 13-3 from successful goal kicking by Ewan Scott and a try by second row Opeta Palepoi barely reflected this superiority.

The second half was just a matter of adding more Gala scores, a penalty try, a short-range effort by Ewan McQuillan and then, in front of some of his Galashiels Academy pupils, a much-applauded try by replacement front row Lewis Bertram.