GHA 34 Gala 14
Conditions on Saturday suggested that the team which made the least mistakes would win this match. Very heavy underfoot conditions with a strong cold cross field wind presented plenty of problems for all the players. Both sides prepared on the third pitch to protect the integrity of the main pitch at least until the action started. We had the unusual sight of both sets of players and officials and indeed the refereeing contingent all diligently preparing on the third pitch. Gala arrived having won their last three matches whilst GHA had lost on their travels in the last fortnight.
Gala kicked off and Grant Mollison cleared the danger and took play up to halfway. The rain began to lessen but this did not prevent several balls being knocked on or passes dropped in the conditions in the opening minutes.Gala won several penalties and ran the ball at the GHA flanks. A timely tackle by Ben Addison stopped a try scoring opportunity for John Turnbull. Gala were now inside the home side’s five metre area and the visitors were awarded another penalty as they pressured the home side. The Maroons decided on a scrum. There then followed a period of nearly six minutes when scrums were reset, penalties awarded to Gala and Michael Scott received a yellow card. Despite intense pressure the home side remained calm and focused and defended their line. Gala pushed the ball wide only to run into a determined defensive line from GHA. However the visitors were not to be denied and a cleverly worked drive by the maroon forwards allowed Kieran Brown to go over for the score. The try was converted by Dean Keddie and the score after eighteen minutes was : GHA 0 GALA 7.
Undaunted the home side restarted with a long testing kick deep into the Gala half and quickly engaged their opponents.GHA won the ball in the loose and a superb break by Max MacFarlane was finished off by the flying Ben Addison who was given an excellent pass by Max. The conversion from a tight angle failed and the score after twenty three minutes was GHA 5 GALA 7
.An excellent catch by Grant Mollison spearheaded the GHA response to the Gala restart. A drive by Scott Carson scattered opponents and caused panic amongst the Gala rearguard. Superb interpassing between messrs MacFarlane and Lonergan drove the startled visitors scurrying back in defence. The Braidholm front row of Carson, Scott and Fox were making inroads to the opposition and crucially were protecting the ball and setting up attacking positions for a very lively GHA back line. In desperation, Gala gave away a penalty inside their twenty two metre area and Murray Houston elected to kick for goal. He was successful and the score after thirty minutes was GHA 8 GALA 7.
The visiting side were having problems coping with the tremendous team work of the home side. From the restart GHA again took the play to Gala with Michael Scott charging through a gap in midfield to the delight of the home crowd. It became noticeable that you could throw a blanket over the home forwards such was their compact support of each other. Again Gala were pressured into giving away a penalty on their twenty two metre area and Murray Houston converted to make the score after thirty three minutes: GHA 11 GALA 7.
Gala tried bravely to make inroads into the GHA half but found the home defence resolute. Indeed a further offence by the visitors resulted in Murray Houston kicking the penalty to make the score GHA 14 GALA 7.
Several attacks by the visiting side broke down with a knock on or spilled pass which was causing frustration in the visiting ranks. Half time arrived with the score: GHA 14 GALA 7. It had been an exciting match with both sides intent on running the ball despite the conditions. Towards the half hour the home side had begun to enjoy territory and possession and the speed of the GHA backs and the dexterity of their passing was giving the visitors cause for concern.
Gala began the second half with considerable resolve and soon drove the home side back into their own twenty two metre area.After five minutes Gala moved the ball quickly and Rex Jeffrey found room to go over and score. The try was converted and the score was now : GHA 14 GALA 14.
The visitors enjoyed several minutes of dominance and only a spilled pass prevented the visitors from piercing the home side’s defence. Both sides were working hard in their attempt to wrestle control of the match, The weather began to improve and the pace of the match was hectic.James Sutherland continually led drives at the heart of the Gala defence and quick support from fellow forwards was forcing Gala on to the back foot. A growing confidence developed amongst the home side who continued to play with patience and a single mindedness which Gala were finding hard to match.At the fifteenth minute an excellent passing move by Grant Mollison and James Edgar tore holes in the Gala defence and took play up to the Gala five metre area. In a sustained and technically well executed piece of teamwork by forwards and backs, Ross Angus scored. The conversion was narrowly missed and the score was after sixteen minutes : GHA 19 GALA 14.
As the confidence of the home side soared Gala were penalised for several high tackles. The home side decided to run the latest penalty from the Gala twenty two and in a concerted effort amidst a startled visiting defence slow to react, Michael Scott went over to score. The conversion failed and the score was after nineteen minutes: GHA 24 GALA 14.
Gala were now desperately trying to hold back the home side and gave away a further penalty in the twenty sixth minute. George Baird converted the penalty from the Gala twenty two metre area to make the score: GHA 27 GALA 14. As we reached the half hour, GHA continued to press the match in the Gala half. From inside the Gala twenty two metre area a fabulous break by the dancing feet of Max MacFarlane took him through the Gala defence and allowed him to set up Charlie Lonergan to score. The try was converted by George Baird and the score after thirty minutes was: GHA 34 GALA 14.
The home side continued to force the visiting side back into their own half and tried hard to extend their lead. The final score was GHA 34 GALA 14.
It had been an excellent team effort from the home side whose ball retention and pass execution caused the visiting team problems they could not answer on the day.
GHA: G.MOLLISON, J.EDGAR, C.LONERGAN, M.MacFARLANE, B.ADDISON, C.KING, M.HOUSTON, S.CARSON, M.SCOTT, M.FOX, J.AULD, J.MCCARTHY, A.KERR, R.ANGUS, J.SUTHERLAND – Replacements: L.BARRON, S.FISHER, G.BAIRD, R.FINDLAY, A.PUREWAL
SCORERS: T – ADDISON, ANGUS, LONERGAN, SCOTT C – BAIRD P – HOUSTON (3), BAIRD
GALA: R.COOKE, J.FREW, R.JEFFREY, A.EDMOND, J.TURNBULL, D.KEDDIE, S.FAIRBURN, M.CHRISTIE, C.KEEN, T.LOGAN, R.IRVINE, C.PATE, J.IRVINE, K.BROWN, E.DODS – Replacements: J.McCABE, B. REAVELY, D.NICHOLSON, A.TURNER, L.JOHNSTON
SCORERS: T – BROWN, JEFFREY C – KEDDIE (2)
REFEREE: MR L FISH
ASSISTANT REFEREES: Mr J HAWRYLUK-BEATON MR A LAING
Photo Credit: Colin Robinson