Gala’s spirit can yet push them into play-offs

Gala No 8 Euan Dods believes last week’s BT Premiership win over Stirling County was down to team spirit and a great desire to get the season back on track – and he is looking to build on that performance today against Edinburgh Accies.

Gala No 8 Euan Dods, centre, says the side never lost belief during a losing run. Picture: Craig Watson/SNS/SRU

When the Maroons defeated Boroughmuir back in early October they would not have thought that their next win in the league would come some three months later.

An ever-increasing injury list and some poor showings saw Gala lose league matches to Melrose, Heriot’s, Ayr, Currie, Glasgow Hawks, Hawick and a BT Cup encounter with County to leave supporters concerned.

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However, they bounced back last week in the league to defeat County 21-16 to leave them in fourth place and still in pole position to claim an end-of- season play-off spot.

Dods, 24, said: “We know that the support and all those connected with the club and the town have been frustrated during our recent run but, believe me, no one has been more annoyed about it than the coaches and the players.

“Yes, we have had a few key players out through injury, but that happens to every team at some stage and you have to learn to deal with it. The guys from the seconds who have come in have done well and learnt quickly and although they have lost matches the experience will serve them well for the future.

“Last week up at County we rolled up our sleeves and just wanted the win so badly. With the way the season is structured this time around we still have a chance to win the title and we have to make sure that we secure a top four spot because there are a number of clubs breathing down our necks.

“One thing we certainly never lost during the bad run was the belief in the team and the belief in each other as individuals. Now we have to go out and put in a good performance against a tough Accies side today at Netherdale.”

Edinburgh Rugby fringe player Chris Auld is back from a loan spell with London Scottish and he starts in the centre.

Accies, who got themselves off the bottom with a win over Ayr seven days ago, have top tryscorer Sam Pecqueur back after concussion, while Edinburgh Rugby youngster Jamie Farndale is on the bench after five months out through injury. Teenager Callum Ramm also keeps his place on the wing after an assured league debut last week.

Leaders Heriot’s host Currie and the home side bring in Edinburgh Rugby youngster Jamie Ritchie in the back-row, meaning that captain Jack Turley moves to the second-row.

Former Dundee HSFP back-row Danny Levison could also make his debut off the bench for Heriot’s while Currie again include George Watson’s College schoolboy Robbie Nairn in their starting XV.

Ayr are in second, place but, after their loss at Accies, head coach Calum Forrester is looking for a positive reaction at home to Boroughmuir.

He said: “Last week we were punished for not taking our chances and we will need to be more clinical in attack against Boroughmuir. They are fighting for their survival and we are under no illusions of how tough a match this will be.”

Melrose, in third, have Callum Anderson back on the wing and Tito Mua moving to centre to accommodate him as they prepare to welcome Hawick to The Greenyards.

Hawick travel knowing a win would be a real boost to any top-four hopes that they have.

At Old Anniesland, Glasgow Hawks, with Jimmy Sinclair now in place as head coach, host Stirling County.