GALA retained the Waverley Cup for their third win in the competition yesterday in an engrossing and titanic contest watched by a huge crowd at The Greenyards.
Scorers: Melrose: Tries: Anderson (2). Cons: Helps (2). Pens: Helps (3), Mill. Gala: Tries, Scott, Borthwick, Sutherland, Johnston. Cons: Scott (3). Pen: Scott.
At one stage, Melrose were down to 13 men with Joe Helps and Gary Holborn sent to the sin bin by referee Cammy Rudkin to be followed by Gala’s Callum MacIntosh, yet came close to snatching a win in the final exciting minutes.
Gala captain George Graham was delighted to get the result, but admitted that they had to fight to the end, and warned that the league clash at the end of January would be a different game altogether.
“It is always good to get a win over your rivals, and it was a tough game. And it does give us a bit of confidence going into the new year,” he said. “But, when they come to Netherdale, it will not matter at all.”
Melrose captain Fraser Thomson added: “In parts of the game we were pretty indisciplined and unhappy at the breakdown.We were lucky to get a penalty when we were down to 13 men and tried to stem the flow, but then Gala scored a try. We tried to push for the winner near the end, but could not make it.”
Intense Gala pressure produced the opening try for the visitors in five minutes, when Ewan Scott touched down from a break by Gregor Mein and Scott converted.
But it was all square five minutes later when Callum Anderson squeezed in at the left hand-corner and Helps banged over the crucial conversion.
Melrose were more adventurous and Helps kicked two penalties, one for a high tackle by Craig Borthwick, the other for over-zealous play.
Borthwick became the hero in 29 minutes when the No 4 ploughed over the line from close range and Scott converted.
Helps and Scott were denied by forward passes before Gala finished strongly without breaching the home defence in a strong rally on half-time.
Melrose were back in front immediately after the break with Helps’ third penalty only for Scott to restore the Gala lead.
The two yellow cards dented the Melrose challenge as the game exploded into life and it was no surprise when Rory Sutherland was at the foot of a Gala forwards’ drive.
But Melrose battled hard with fewer players as Gala and Richard Mill cut the deficit with Helps off the field.
Melrose: F Thomson; D Hoyland, A Dodds, J Helps, C Anderson; R Mill, T Wilson; N Little, R Ferguson, N Beavon, R Miller, R Ovens, R Knott, G Runciman, A Nagle. Replacements: C Mackay, G Holborn, C Wilde, D Crawford, B Chalmers, D Colvine, A Skeen.
Gala: A McLean; G Speirs, C Auld, E Scott, G Somerville; G Mein, George Graham; R Sutherland, C Mackintosh, J Hilberbrand, C Borthwick, O Palepoi, Gary Graham, S Chapman, S Cairns. Replacements: E Johnson, J Irvine, F Hunter, C Robertson, C Dods, A Emond, M Kibble.
Referee: C Rudkin.
THE SCOTSMAN RUGBY SHOW IN ASSOCIATION WITH GINGER GROUSE