2009/2010: Scottish Premiership Two



G. Hunter15R. McClymont
G. Marks14R. Jericevich
L. Millar13N. Cassie (c)
A. Emond12A. Rushforth
G. Speirs11R. O’Keefe
A. McLean10J. Noonan
I. Ross9A. Gillman
A. Johnston1G. Warnock
M. Christie2J. Low
D. Hughes3A. Kelly
C. Weir4I. Smith
J. Anderson5R. Jenkins
(c) O. Palepoi6I. Nelson
S. Cairns7J. Pinder
G. Bryce8D. Kellock
L. Roden16A. MacFarlane
B. Rennie17D. Stoddart
G. Laing18O. Gilmartin
L. Kibble19G. Jones
Christie, MillarTryCassie (2)
Mr G. Gordon (Hillfoots RFC)


All that’s good cannot go on forever. So GHA’s winning sequence in the Scottish Hydro Premier Two ended in defeat by Gala at Netherdale.

GHA were twice ahead in the first half, each time with a Niall Cassie try. But a bonus point was all that they came home with, though the final margin was so close that it would have been overturned if Jim Noonan had been successful with a penalty kick from a step inside his own half right at the end of the contest.

It was Gala’s second win against GHA this season, the first back in late October. In between, though, GHA had won six league games in a row, steadily climbing up the league table into third place. They are still in that position, but thoughts of promotion can now be only an ephemeral dream: they are 19 points behind Stirling County, whom they play away next Saturday, and 14 adrift of Hawick.

For much of the time it was an eager contest, and both teams could look back and ponder how it might have been better. Gala could have won by more whereas GHA also could rue missed chances, not just that late, long-range penalty attempt by the stand-off.

Late in the first half GHA ought to have profited from a Gala knock-on just inside the home half. Dominic Kellock exploited it and sent Andrew Rushforth off on a surging run towards the right corner, but with the goal-line begging, Gregor Jones knocked on what should have been a scoring pass from the centre.

A try then would have put GHA at least 10 points clear. Instead, in the last eight minutes of the first half Gala turned a 5-10 deficit into a 15-10 lead, with a Gregor Hunter penalty goal, a Lee Millar try, and a Hunter conversion.

Midway in the second half GHA had a long spell in the Gala half, but they made little of it. Their best chance was when Noonan blocked an attempted clearance in the left corner and gathered the ball to send Jamie Pinder to the line. The visiting forwards piled in behind the flanker. But they were held up, and all that came of that was a Noonan penalty goal, which was to be the only score of the second half.

Gala could have been six points up in the first six minutes of the match. But Graham Speirs missed a couple of penalties, and only two minutes after the second of these the visitors took the lead after Rangi Jericevich’s break through the middle. Noonan missed the conversion from out on the left.

Gala equalised in 24 minutes when Mike Christie went over on the blind side of a close-range lineout, but GHA had a swift response as Noonan’s short pass sent Cassie through a barely discernable hole about 30 metres out. The centre still had much to do before scoring well out on the right, and Noonan again missed the conversion.

Jericevich pulled up with a hamstring injury in making the break for the first try. But he was not alone. Ross McClymont and Iain Nelson suffered similar injuries, and consequent reshuffling of the outside backs proved to be too much of a handicap despite willing efforts, which were no better exemplified than by Ruairi O’Keefe’s recovery twice from injury. He ended the first half lying unconscious on the ground, and late in the second half, keen not the miss a second’s action, he ran off the field in eager search for a medic to reset a dislocated finger!

Source: Bill McMurtrie

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