Gala 26 - 21 Melrose: Gala clinch cup
Scorers: Gala: Tries: Somerville, Young, Anderson. Con: Millar. Pens: Millar (2). Drop goal: Millar. Melrose: Tries: G Dodds, Thomson. Con: Helps. Pens: Helps (3).
It was a disappointing farewell for Melrose coach Craig Chalmers, who made his final appearance before moving south to join Chinnor.
“It was a great effort by our players after Saturday’s cup final and we just about got over the line,” he said.
Gala coach George Graham admitted that Melrose had given his club a real fight. “I was very impressed with the way they played after a brutal match on Saturday,” he said.
Melrose battled hard after a disappointing first half to push Gala to the wire before the home side won the try count 3-2.
The Gala forwards dominated the first half with Euan Dods and Opeta Palepoi outstanding while Melrose were rarely seen as an attacking force.
The players perhaps showed a reaction to that agonising cup final defeat while Gala were hungrier with a greater appetite
The early possession and pressure came from Gala, and after Lee Millar had hit a post with a penalty, the stand-off put Gala ahead in 13 minutes with a penalty after Melrose were caught offside.
Grant Somerville failed to hold a Euan Dods pass with the line opening up for the winger. However, he made amends halfway through the half following Chris Auld’s break to dive over in the left-hand corner.
But Melrose were back in the contest with a Joe Helps penalty after Gala were penalised for backchat.
However, Gala were the dominant side, and after Gary Graham had been held up, Euan Dods picked up at the base of the scrum and George Graham sent Gavin Young in for side’s second try and a 13-3 interval lead.
It was business as usual after the break as Gala were twice held up over the line before Melrose rescued themselves with turn-over ball.
The visitors at last found their passion and power. After a series of scrums, Ben Murray was sent to the sin bin and Graeme Dodds ploughed over for a try converted by Helps.
Millar and Helps exchanged penalties and Millar dropped a long-range goal.
Fraser Thomson raced over the line to bring Melrose to within one point.
As players tired, the game opened up and Anderson ploughed over the crucial try and Millar’s conversion secured the cup despite Helps’ late score from a penalty.
Gala: A McLean; G Somerville, C Auld, C Borthwick, G Young; L Millar, George Graham; L Pettie, C Mackintosh, E McQuillin, C Weir, O Palepoi, Gary Graham, B Murray E Dods. Replacements: R Anderson, M Chrystie, C Keddie, T Weir, B Turner, A Emond, C Robertson.
Melrose: F Thomson; C Anderson, B Dick, J Helps, A Dodds; R Mill, B Colvine; N Little, R Ferguson, G Holborn, G Dodds, P Eccles, J Dalziel, G Runciman, A Nagle. Replacements: W Mitchell, C Arthur, R Miller, R Ovens, S McCormick, L Mallin, A Skeen, S Chalmers.