GALA snatched the points in the early kick-off in a game in which Stirling allowed victory to slip from their grasp.
Scorers: Gala Tries, Cairns, McQuillin. Con, Scott. Pens, Scott (2). Stirling County Tries, Lindsay, Swanson. Con, Archibald.
A penalty and try in the final three minutes salvaged a win for Gala to leave Stirling’s coach, Graeme Young, disappointed and frustrated. “We should have won it,” he said. “I am not happy with the referee (Rob Dickson). We did not have one penalty in the whole game, but that is his judgment.”
Gala coach George Graham added: “There has to be an argument for us to vent our frustration.”
But he said: “It is a win and we have to take that. I was very relieved. At 12-10 down, I did not think we were going to break them down, but we were shocking in attack and I did not think we would do anything.
“Our decision-making was poor, but to play badly and win was good. At the end of the day, a bonus point is indeed a bonus. Stirling are a very good team and the only side we have not beaten away since I came here.”
Despite the defeat, and the fact that the referee gave three of their players yellow cards – at one time they were down to 13 men – Young said: “I am really proud of our performance.
“I cannot fault our boys, but they looked a bit tired in the final minutes.”
Stirling adapted better from the start, played the more secure and steady rugby, and the players’ energy skills were of a high level as Gala staggered at times to get into any rhythm.
Stevie Cairns gave Gala the early try and Ewan McQuillin got the late touchdown to add to Ewan Scott’s conversion and two penalties.
Stirling did not help themselves with Kris Burney, Craig Deacons and Benji Bersanti in the sin bin, but tries by Graeme Lindsay and Jamie Swanson and Brian Archibald’s conversion almost produced the shock of the day.
But Gala held on before two tough away ties – first Aberdeen and then Ayr – will test the abilities and qualities of a side with Premiership aspirations.
Gala: A. McLean; G. Somerville, C. Auld, E. Scott, G. Sibanda; D. O’Hagan, George Graham; C. Mackintosh, R. Anderson, E. McQuillin, C. Weir, C. Borthwick, Gary Graham, T. Weir, S. Cairns. Subs: L. Bertram, G. Lowrie, R. Tod, G. Mein, G. Speirs.
Stirling County: B. Addison; G. Lindsay, D. Gilmour, B. Archibald, M. Lamb; F. Lyle, A.J. McFarlane; K. Burney, A. Moffat, C. Hutton, J. Larsen, C. Deacons, K. Robertson, S. McDonald, J. Swanson. Subs: J. Hope, J. Bhatti, R. Kennedy, B. Bersanti, W. Bordrill.
Referee: R Dickson.