Gala moved to the top of the BT Premiership table by eclipsing a fast-starting Glasgow Hawks side containing Glasgow lock Al Kellock with an energetic and accurate second half performance.
Gala 29-10 Glasgow Hawks
Scorers: Gala – Tries: Spiers, Palepoi, Young. Con: Dods. Pens: Dods (4). Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Redmayne, Gillies.
Kellock gave himself 66 minutes to test his fully recovered left shoulder, including a heavy collision with his old sparring partner Opeta Palepoi. The former Scotland captain emerged unscathed and pleased with his progress.
He said: “I’m feeling good. The lungs got stretched, too, because it was a fast game – and physical. The shoulder felt fine. I’ll get back in on Monday and push for a place in the Glasgow team. I really enjoyed the game but it was disappointing to lose. We played really well in the first period and we probably should have been further ahead. They were far, far better in the second half.”
Kellock’s experience certainly helped Hawks score two first-half tries, both from driven line -outs, and credited to Andy Redmayne and Finlay Gillies. But these were aided by Gala’s propensity to give away penalties.
Maroons’ coach George Graham said: “The penalty count was 10-2 against us in the first half. Frankly, we never really adjusted to the referee’s interpretation at the breakdown.”
Pleasing for both sides were the performances of their young stand-offs – Ruairi Howarth for Gala and George Horne for Hawks. While Horne honed his skills with Currie last season, Howarth is new on the Premiership stage, having graduated from Scotland under-18s via Gala Wanderers.
Howarth, who has secured an elite development contract with Edinburgh, showed his growing maturity with good line-kicking, sound distribution and sure hands, the teenager taking one pass off his boots close to the Gala line to defuse an awkward situation for the Maroons.
Elsewhere in the Gala side, Craig Dods, son of 1984 Scotland Grand Slam full-back, Peter, displayed coolness off the tee by kicking two first-half penalty goals to keep the Maroons in touch and adding three further goals in the second half as Gala turned interval words of exhortation from Graham into action.
Gala, who trailed 6-10, began their fightback seconds before half time with a try in the corner by winger Graham Spiers before dominating the second half to produce a close-range try by Palepoi and then, from a well-worked blindside move triggered by replacement Grayson Hart, a touchdown from winger Gavin Young to sign off a satisfying win.
Gala: C Dods; G Young, C Auld, A Emond, G Spiers; R Howarth, George Graham; L Pettie, R Anderson, E Johnstone, C Weir, O Palepoi, Gary Graham, J Irvine, E Dods. Subs used: C Mackintosh, T Weir, S Chapman, G Hart, E Scott.
Glasgow Hawks: A Fleming; H McPherson, R Beattie, D Milne, T Steven; G Horne, P Boyer; S Finlay, J McFarlane, B Cullinane, A Redmayne, A Kellock, T Holmes, F Gillies, T Spinks. Subs used: G Stewart, G Strain, S Thomson, K Beattie, R Houliston.
Referee: N Paterson.