Gala 22 GHA 26
Fine weather made the trip to Netherdale very pleasant. Despite the sunny environs there was a sharp cold wind that blew across the pitch towards the scoreboard end. An excellent playing surface greeted the players as they went through their preparations. There was an air of expectancy in the ground. GHA knew that one point would guarantee promotion and Gala also realised that only a victory would boost their chances of promotion.
Gala attacked from the first whistle and were quickly deep inside the visitors half.For several minutes GHA had great difficulty clearing their lines such was the intensity of the Gala onslaught. A huge break by Simon Fairbairn required a last ditch tackle to prevent him going over for the home side. Messrs Fairbairn and Turnbull were continually looking to exploit any gaps in the visitors defence. In the first five minutes Gala had opportunities to score on three occasions but excellent defensive tackling or a missed pass meant the opportunities came to nought. Gradually GHA began to settle into the match and it was clear that the early missed opportunities rankled in Gala ranks and amongst their support.To relieve the pressure, John O’Brien made a break which took him up to halfway before being stopped. Despite pressure from Gala, the visiting defence refused to buckle . After ten minutes a penalty to Gala from inside the GHA half allowed Dean Keddie to convert to give Gala the lead. GALA 3 GHA 0.
Gala attempted to build on this lead with Dean Keddie orchestrating attempts to break the GHA resistance. Angled running and use of space by Gala was stretching the visitors. Gradually however as we reached the fifteenth minute the GHA forwards began to exert some control over the loose ball and Gala became aware that the visitors had a very effective attacking threat. As we moved towards the half hour both sides found it increasingly hard to break through and as a result much of the play centred around the mid field with play going across the pitch. An element of anxiety was creeping into Gala play with errors undoing a lot of good build up work. Half time allowed both sides to take stock of what had been a nervous first half where defences were in the ascendancy.
The second half began with a lightning strike by the visitors. In a superb flowing move inside the Gala half the ball was passed through hands until Grant Mollison finished the move off in the corner, The try was converted by Ross Findlay from a very difficult angle and the score after five minutes of the half was now: GALA 3 GHA 7.
The match was suddenly opening up from the careful approach of the first half. Gala came straight back at GHA and in a clever move inside the GHA twenty two metre area, Rex Jeffrey sliced through the visiting defence to score . The try was converted and the score was: GALA 10 GHA 7.
Gala seized the initiative and forced GHA back into their own half. A number of forward dives gave the home side a good platform and as the visitors were forced on to the back foot, a forwards dive allowed Martin Christie to score. Again the try was converted and after sixteen minutes the score was now GALA 17 GHA 7.
The home support roared on their side as they seemed to be establishing a dominance in the match. However GHA mounted an impressive attack which took play up inside the Gala half. In a slick handling move Aaron Purewal went over in the corner to make the score after twenty minutes: GALA 17 GHA 12.
An excellent attempt to convert by Ross Findlay just failed. Despite the intentions of both sides, play again became concentrated in the middle of the pitch with both defences negating forward momentum. As we reached the half hour Gala broke the impasse with a lovely passing phase which found space around the turned GHA defence to allow Daniel Nicholson to score in the corner. A difficult conversion attempt just failed and the score after thirty one minutes was: GALA 22 GHA 12.
As we entered the final quarter of the match GHA made an almighty effort to take the match to Gala. Scott Carson, Sean Fisher and Michael Scott aided by Adam Kerr took the ball into contact and crucially retained possession as the visitors edged towards the Gala try line. Quick ball allowed messrs King and Gillman to run at the Gala defence which was now being visibly stretched by the determined assaults by the GHA forwards working in tandem with eager backs. A huge drive by GHA saw desperate resistance by the home side on their try line which could not prevent Scott Carson scoring to the delight of his team mates and GHA supporters in the ground. The try was converted and the score in the thirty seventh minute of the match with minutes to go was now: GALA 22 GHA 19.
GHA sensed there was an opportunity here and made a determined effort to win possession from the kick off. Again the GHA forwards were immense and drove deep into the Gala half. Careful and precise work protected the ball and the desperate home defence could not prevent GHA captain Michael Scott going over with his pack in support to score. Ross Findlay converted to make the final score: GALA 22 GHA 26.
GHA had fought back after a shaky start and played with considerable patience and skill to carve a way through the home defence. Despite going behind the visitors refused to panic and continued in their game plan. Every player and coach in the party played their part in what has become a victory that guarantees third position in the League and therefore guarantees promotion.
GALA: S.FAIRBAIRN, G.SPIERS, J.TURNBULL, R.JEFFREY, J.FREW, D.KEDDIE, L.JOHNSTON, M.CHRISTIE, C.KEEN, T.LOGAN, C.WEIR, R.IRVINE, S.CAIRNS, L.SCOTT, E.DODS – Replacements: A.BROWN, J.EASSON, D.NICHOLSON, S.WILKINSON, D.KERR
SCORERS: T – CHRISTIE, JEFFREY, NICHOLSON C – KEDDIE (2) P – KEDDIE
GHA: J.O’BRIEN, G.MOLLISON, B.ADDISON, R.FINDLAY, A.PUREWAL, C.KING, A.GILLMAN, T.BROGAN, M.SCOTT, M.FOX, A.KERR, J.MCCARTHY, D.EWING, M.RYAN, J.SUTHERLAND – Replacements: S. FISHER, S.CARSON, F.FAULDS, G.BAIRD, J.BAILLIE
SCORERS: T – CARSON, MOLLISON, PUREWAL, SCOTT C – FINDLAY (3)
REFEREE: Mr R CAMPBELL
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR C.GEORGE MR R NEVINS