2008/2009: Scottish Premiership Two



F. Thomson15G. Taylor
S. Law14R. Jericevich
L. Kibble13N. Cassie
W. Cox12A. Rushforth
G. Speirs11R. McClymont
A. McLean10J. Noonan
L. Lemmon9J. Smyth
A. Lang1A. McCormick
L. Roden2J. Coffey
E. Johnstone3A. Kelly
C. Weir4A. Williamson
M. Howes5R. Jenkins
E. Dods6A. Boag
G. Brown7J. Pinder
D. Marshall8D. Chaney
C. Hogg16G. Warnock
T. Miskelly17P. Harkins
S. Chapman18P. Hilley
M. Christie19
McLean, WeirTryCassie
Speirs (2)ConNoonan
Speirs (2)PenNoonan (2)


It was always Gala’s plan to play an open fluid game, keen as they were to add to their recent burst of try scoring.

But a stop-start afternoon which produced nigh on 40 penalties meant that momentum was far too often halted. Neither the teams, nor the supporters were totally satisfied with a game which came alive only in occasional bursts. But the Gala brigade left the happier after a second half which wiped out some of the memories of a depressing opening quarter.

The fact that the result didn’t affect the league placings of either side was another case of mild frustration, but at least Gala passed the psychologically important target of 40 points, often regarded as the watershed between safety and relegation worries.

Coach Gary Parker was fairly happy overall; ” We did try to go on playing the sort of rugby we’ve been playing over recent weeks. We wanted to play open rugby at pace and there are parts of the game which show that we can score tries.”

Graham Speirs put over some useful kicks to collect another 10 points personally, but missed three reasonably near penalties. Some other chances of denying GHA their bonus point were lost by indiscretions near the line, and there was some downfield kicking which produced nothing other than the loss of hard won possession.

Gala’s opening line-up was disrupted by injuries, Ewan Johnstone going off nursing a leg after only two minutes and Lee Kibble joining him 15 minutes later. But some sturdy tackling all round, and another lively performance by the back row, toughened up the home game and snuffed out much of the menace from Jim Noonan who has been an irritation to Gala for many years.

Gala set out to run the ball and keep play moving briskly along, but a critical lack of possession in the first 20 minutes meant taht their game plan dried up. The scrum came under heavy pressure, and it was quite with the run of play that GHA scored first. Noonan, not the last time, created the space for Niall Cassie to run in , the stand-off converting.

A quarter of the game had gone before Gala started getting serious. Gareth Brown was up for a critical tackle on the GHA line, with David Marshall at his side, and Chris Weir following through for the try. Speirs’ touchline conversion was an encouraging sight for the home crowd, and he then slotted a penalty from right in front of the posts within a couple of minutes.

The Gala back row was making a lot of ground against a heavy but somewhat ponderous GHA eight who were wanting play it tight, and who imposed themselves a bit at the lineout. It was in that area that Gala gave away a critical penalty kicked by Noonan to square things up at the break.

Play got a bit bogged down for periods of the second half, lengthy chats between the officials breaking the flow. and the stream of penalties continuing. It was an offside offence that handed a penalty chance to GHA, taken by Noonan with twenty minutes to go.

Then the highlight of the game saw Euan Dods set up Gala, Willie Cox carrying the ball on and slipping it to Andy McLean. The Gala captain came into the attack at full speed, chose exactly the right line and scored near the posts for Speirs to convert. Gala could now see the way clear for a win, Speirs added another penalty, and the result went with the form team on the day.

Source: The Borders Telegraph, Wednesday 4th February 2009

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