Gala 23 - 15 Hawick: Maroon gain the bragging rights

Twos company: Galas Gregor Hunter is sandwiched in a tackle by Hawicks Grant Huggan (12) and Stuart Graham.  Photograph: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU
Twos company: Galas Gregor Hunter is sandwiched in a tackle by Hawicks Grant Huggan (12) and Stuart Graham. Photograph: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU
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Gala grabbed a vital victory with a confidence-boosting performance before the sides meet again in two weeks in a relegation battle to stay in the Premiership.

On a damp, cold afternoon at Netherdale, Gala gained the bragging rights for a place in the BT Cup quarter final to edge ahead with the sides each scoring a win this season. Hawick reserved their best form for the second half as Gala held on to advance, but the minds of the players appeared focused on future encounters.

Gala coach Chris Dalgleish said that it had been a morale-boosting win for the club: “It was all about getting a better performance from the last couple of weeks.

“Our pack was very good and had the upper hand in the scrum. I am pleased, but our game management towards the end was not great.”

Hawick coach Nikki Walker added: “I am disappointed that we did not get a result and we let ourselves down a bit.”

Gala made the early running, and when Hawick were caught offside, Gregor Hunter kicked the penalty from in front of the posts in only three minutes.

Hawick, first winners of the cup, were quick to respond with a break from Grant Huggan, and when Gala failed to roll away, Ali Weir levelled the scores with a penalty.

Gala lost captain Graham Speirs to injury, and he was replaced by Paul Hendry in the No. 15 jersey.

Hunter restored the Gala lead with a second penalty and a break by Dwayne Burrows set up the initiative for Gala and George Lott’s quick break sent Matt Carryer over for try, which Hunter converted.

Hawick weathered the storm and stepped up the pressure on a resolute Gala defence. Weir hooked a penalty wide,but they were not to be denied and a quick break by Kyle Brunton set up a run-in and try for Huggan and Weir kicked the conversion.

The try lifted Hawick, who replaced the injured Matt Landels with Garry Douglas, as Gala defended gallantly, but the next score almost came at the other end, Hunter pulling a penalty wide. Ross Combe was denied by a forward pass as Gala finished the first half the stronger and 13-10 ahead.

The Maroons stretched their lead six minutes after the break when they cashed in on loose Hawick play following a line-out and Burrows scored under the posts, Hunter converting.

Hawick survived Gala pressure midway through the half, before the home team gained some ascendancy as the match ebbed and flowed.

A high tackle on Burrows saw a yellow card for Kirk Ford and Hunter kicked a penalty to stretch the lead to ease the pressure.

Rory Hunter replaced Weir as Hawick tried to salvage the game and he released Lee Armstrong who was held up before he took a second chance to narrow the gap.

Gala did well to retrieve the situation when Combe carried the ball over with Hawick still reduced to 14 men.

Lott was the next player to be yellow-carded as Gala held on to take the spoils.