NETHERDALE survived the worst of yesterday’s storms for the clash of the Borders giants with both sides desperate for points on a rain-sodden pitch under the persistent rain.
It was Gala who staged a remarkable second-half fight back to take the honours in an extremely exciting contest, taking advantage of the wind, turning round 3-10 behind after Melrose stormed into a 10-0 lead after only three minutes. Melrose took just one minute to go ahead when Joe Helps kicked a penalty and two minutes later James Head broke through to stretch out over the line for the opening try and Helps converted.
Gala’s response was swift with several drives to the line before they were penalised by referee Graham Wells. Melrose had the advantage of the elements and were soon back as an attacking force. Mistakes were frequent from both teams in the slippery conditions.
Gary Adams was denied when he knocked on before a penalty to touch went too far and over the line for a drop-out to Melrose.
Helps pulled a penalty wide from just inside his own half and when the winger had a second chance from the same position he again was off the mark.
Gala finished the first half the stronger and were rewarded in 39 minutes when David O’Hagan kicked a penalty after Melrose were caught offside to go in 3-10 behind at the interval with the benefit of the wind in the second half.
The home side encamped on the Melrose line before losing a crucial lineout throw and then knocking the ball on. But it was game on when a break by Euan Dods released George Graham who gave Graham Speirs the scoring pass. O’Hagan failed with the conversion attempt.
Sam Pecquer hirpled off and was replaced by Richard Mill before O’Hagan kicked a penalty wide from just inside the Melrose half. Gala continued to dominate as Melrose stood firm in the worsening conditions.
The pressure paid off in 63 minutes when Gala went ahead for the first time, O’Hagan sending Speirs over in the left-hand corner for his second try and O’Hagan converted for a 15-10 lead.
Pecquer came back on as Melrose strived to get back into the contest, but it was Richard Tod who clinched the game with a late try and O’Hagan converted.
Gala added salt to the Melrose wound with an O’Hagan penalty from half-way in injury time.