A NUMBER of Gala members made the journey down to Birmingham yesterday, and many more will follow suit today to lend their support as the Borders club look to complete a famous double over Moseley in the British & Irish Cup.
If the Netherdale club can repeat last week’s home win over the English Championship side this afternoon at Billesley Common, it would leave them with three wins from four matches in Pool 6 ahead of the final two pool encounters early in 2013.
And it would also mean that they would be in with a decent chance of becoming only the second Scottish team, after Ayr in 2010/11, to qualify for the knock-out stages of the cross-border competition.
Ahead of the match, which sees first play second, Gala head coach George Graham said: “Moseley will surely be smarting from the defeat at Netherdale and will be going out all guns blazing to try and turn around last week’s result.
“We have to weather the storm, play our own game, take the opportunities when they arise and continue to defend the way we did last week. If we can manage that we will be in with a good chance of repeating last week’s result.”
At Netherdale last Saturday Gala held on to win 18-11 to add to their previous victory on the same ground against London Scottish. The players have been buzzing all week, but the squad has been dealt a blow with the news that captain Opeta Palepoi will not play, having picked up a knee injury. Prop Luke Pettie, who has been outstanding this term, is also missing through injury. Gary Graham moves up from the back-row to the second-row to fill the void left by Palepoi with Euan Dods back at No 8. Martin Chrystie is the man chosen to fill in for Pettie.
The only other change from last Saturday’s starting XV sees Craig Robertson replace Grant Somerville on the wing, with the latter on the bench. London Scottish are away to Llanelli in the other match in Pool 6 this afternoon.
Stirling County pushed Bedwas close at Dunbar last week and are in Wales today to take on the same opponents in Pool 2. Bedford Blues are running away with this pool, but County will want to claim a second win in four matches if they can. In the backs Mark Bennett is released from Glasgow Warriors and starts at centre while Edinburgh EDP Alex Black, who often turns out for Edinburgh Accies, is at scrum-half. Dundee HSFP and Melrose have both had covers on their pitches this week in a bid to get their home matches with Carmarthen and Nottingham respectively on. Duncan Weir has been released by Glasgow Warriors to start at stand-off for Dundee HSFP as they go looking for their first win in Pool 3.
In Pool 8, Edinburgh elite development player Hamish Watson starts in the back-row for Melrose, meaning that player/coach John Dalziel is on the bench while key man Andrew Skeen returns at stand-off.