GALA’S hopes of making more progress in the British and Irish Cup were severely dented yesterday afternoon at Clifton Park in York as Leeds proved just too pacy and powerful for the amateur players from Netherdale.
The defeat meant that all Scottish clubs had lost at the weekend in the toughest of competitions, but Gala coach, George Graham, believes that such matches are a largely rewarding experience for his players.
The match, which was switched to York as the Leeds pitch was not available, attracted a big support from Gala and Graham saw his side lift their game to a new level, even in defeat.
But after taking the lead with a Gregor Mein penalty, they were swiftly swept aside by the professional players, who dictated most of the game from start to finish.
“I was very disappointed with the outcome of the game, but I was very impressed with Leeds and it showed the difference between the pros and ourselves,” Graham said after the final whistle. “We will learn from this and take a huge amount of information out of the game and bring it into the level that we are playing. That’s the difference between the sides. They are professional and do not need to worry about going into work in the morning.
“We hung on there. We showed up a few times and scored a good try. We had a go at them, but the gulf in class showed in the end.”
Gala started the game on a sunny afternoon and optimism was raised when Gregor Mein kicked an early goal for a 3-0 lead. But Leeds were hungry for success and Gala were often clutching at shadows as the home side piled on a total of 14 tries and Glyn Hughes added the conversion points for most scores.But three tries in the space of 14 minutes from Nathan Hannay, Fred Burdon, Ryan Burrows and Peter Lucock failed to demoralise a battling Gala side and Mein was able to add to his penalty with a score from close range.
However, before half-time, Craig Hampson and Steve McColl put Leeds ahead 40-8 at the break.
And there was no relenting of the pressure after half-time as David Doherty scored twice in as many minutes, completing his hat-trick, and McColl scored twice in the final minutes. In between, James Doyle, Robbie Marty and Matt Smith, who was later yellow carded with Craig Borthwick, added further tries.
It was only the fourth time that Leeds had met Scottish opposition in a competitive fixture. And Graham believes it is good for his players to meet some quality opposition.
“It’s a great stage to play at this level and things that we learn from this we will take into the weekend game at Currie. There will be a few bruised bodies, but we will be ready for the next game.”