TORRENTIAL rain failed to deter both sides turning in an exciting performance in the traditional Boxing Day clash for the Waverley Cup – with Gala winning back the trophy in a tense clash, writes Atholl Innes at the Greenyards.
Both sides took the opportunity to field a few less regular players and Melrose took the lead in five minutes when Neil Irvine-Hess was driven over from a forwards’ drive and Joe Helps converted.
Gala recovered from the early storm and put Melrose on the back foot without breaking the line of defence.
Mistakes were frequent on the slippery pitch, which started to cut up, and after a series of attacks, David O’Hagan cut the deficit from in front of the posts.
O’Hagan reduced the arrears with his second penalty and on the stroke of half-time, the No.10 kicked the visitors ahead for a 9-7 interval lead.
Melrose regained the lead when Jason Baggot dropped a goal before O’Hagan restored the Gala advantage with a penalty.
Both sides tried to play open rugby in difficult conditions, which tested the stamina of the players in the fading light.
Gala stretched the lead when replacement Matt Carryer was driven over for his side’s try.
Melrose started to exert intense pressure, but the Gala defence stood firm against the onslaught.
It was a question of survival of the fittest as Melrose maintained the pressure, with the visitors holding on to take the spoils.