Gala retained their Premiership status after overcoming the challenge of the National League One runners-up, Marr, in yesterday’s relegation play-off match at Bridgehaugh.
But Gala would be the first to admit that they were given a testing game by a young and pacy Marr side which won the second half but could not compensate for their points concession before the break.
“I’m proud of our efforts and it shows you that we can compete at this level,” suggested the Marr coach, Craig Redpath.”
Marr’s quick back division and their hard-working back row caused massive problems for Gala in the second half but in the end experience and the skills of individuals were enough to ensure continued tenure in the top tier.
“We were desperately keen to stay in the Premiership so at the end of the day whether we had won by one point or 20 points it didn’t really matter,” admitted Gala’s coach, Chris Dalgleish.
Gala’s problems seemed to stem from a lack of match fitness. The Maroons finished their Premiership programme last month and that presented difficulties for the coaching staff. “Every one of our players are physically fit but they’re perhaps not match fit. We’ve not had a big game for a long time but we won and that’s what it’s all about,” said the Gala manager Peter Dods.
Gala scored all their points in the first half, the first of their three tries coming straight from the kick-off. Stand-off Euan Scott kicked off to the open side, the ball bouncing well for winger Frankie Robson, pictured, who passed to the supporting Euan Dods. When Dods was held the No.8 flicked the ball to Robson, who crashed over for a stunning try.
Dods then crossed for Gala’s second try, this time the score carved out by George Graham’s quick thinking with his sniping run from a tap penalty. Scott added the conversion and then a penalty goal after Marr stand-off Craig Kolariak had been sin-binned to put Gala ahead by 15-0. Then Colin Sturgeon kicked a morale-lifting penalty goal to give Marr hope, but a try by flanker Josh Irvine from a break by Graham and the conversion by Scott tilted the advantage again to Gala, who went into the break with a 22-3 lead.
Marr, however, took control of the game after the interval and were rewarded with a try by winger Scott Bickerstaff, Sturgeon adding the conversion points. But despite some excellent running rugby from Marr, they could not break down a dogged but tiring Gala defence leaving the Maroons victorious and Premiership players for next season.