2009/2010: Scottish Premiership Two



M. Dunn15G. Speirs
C. Binnie14S. Law
(c) N. Cassie13I. Ross
R. McClymont12R. Ormiston
P. Hilley11R. Livingston
J. Noonan10A. McLean
A. Gillman9L. Lemmon
J. Low1A. Johnston
I. Nelson2M. Christie
A. Kelly3C. Hogg
M. Gurran4C. Weir
R. Jenkins5O. Palepoi (c)
A. Boag6E. Dods
J. Pinder7S. Cairns
D. Kellock8G. Bryce
G. Warnock16E. McQuillan
I. Smith17P. Stewart
D. Stoddart18J. Anderson
G. Jones19L. Millar
Noonan (3)PenSpeirs (3)
Mr S. Harding (RFU)


GHA gained only a losing bonus point from their Scottish Hydro Premier Two game against Gala at Braidholm on Saturday. It was one of these games where each club’s share of the championship points might have been more or it might have been less.

GHA’s plans were upset by an enforced change in the starting team less than half an hour before kick-off, with Iain Nelson being called in from the second XV because Glen King had been injured in the warm-up. But the major influencing factor in the contest was the refereeing of the tackle throughout the match.

Both sets of players were unsure of how the English exchange referee was applying that law. To say the least, his interpretation was bizarre in that he appeared to be allowing tackled players to hang on to the ball while penalising opposition players who were trying to claim it.

It was so crazy that on one occasion Andy Boag lifted the ball, and the Gala man clinging to it. Who was penalised? Not the Gala player who had failed to release the ball. However, Gala could have cited similar, even if not so blatant instances where the call went against them.

As for the game itself on an ideal day for rugby, GHA made a bright start, with Chris Binnie latching on to Jim Noonan’s chipped kick. Nothing came of that. Instead, a long kick by Andy McLean took Gala into position for the opening score after five minutes. It was a try by Graeme Bryce from his own pick-up at the base of a close-range scrum. Graham Speirs converted and added a penalty goal midway in the first half.

Twice Andrew Gillman split the Gala defence with enterprising, electric long runs. The first produced nothing, but the second created the position for Ross McClymont to send Patrick Hilley in at the left corner. Noonan’s conversion attempt drifted wide.

By then, however, the refereeing of the tackle law was having an obvious affect on the game. Four of the six penalty goals in the match were from tackle infringements. Speirs and Noonan swapped penalty goals before the interval, when Gala led 13-8, but the home stand-off kicked two more so that GHA led 14-13 seven minutes into the second half. To that GHA could have added a try if Binnie had not been tackled without the ball as he chased a Noonan cross-kick to the right corner. But the referee deemed it was not obstruction!

Noonan missed a penalty from about 30 metres after 59 minutes whereas Speirs kicked one from inside the home 22. That restored Gala’s led and reflected the flow of the game in the final quarter.

But right at the end, with about three minutes of added time fully expected, a chip and chase up the right touchline by Gregor Jones procured what would have been a throw-in for GHA close to the visitors’ goal-line. But the referee whistled the end of the game less than 70 seconds of added time. Gala were relieved, GHA dismayed.

Source: Bill McMurtrie

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