Melrose 57 - 17 Gala: Borders clubs miles apart

Geographically Melrose and Gala are only three miles apart but yesterday, in rugby terms, the gap between the two sides was of the yawning variety as the championship leaders inflicted a crushing defeat on their neighbours.

Melrose's Austin Lockington

Yet despite accumulating nine tries Melrose never had to work hard for most of their scores such was Gala’s proneness to palpable errors.

Two handling mistakes accounted for a brace of scores and moreover Melrose’s ability to drive the line-out with ease created three further tries while, at scrum time, their superior shove drove Gala off their own ball for another first-half try.

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“There were a lot of presents handed out by us,” admitted the Gala coach, Chris Dalgleish, adding: “Defence was again an issue. We have to address this before next week’s game against Stirling.”

Gala went into the game without their playmaker Gregor Hunter, pulled from the team yesterday morning after failing to recover fully from a hip injury. That left the Gala side lacking the generalship that Hunter provides and in many ways that contributed to what the Maroons will see as a performance to forget.

For their part Melrose were never under pressure, their defensive system equal to Gala’s attacks, and with Craig Jackson providing authority from stand-off and Austin Lockington, pictured, able to find space the Melrose men at times threatened to rack up an even bigger score.

Melrose led 31-7 at the break, Ruairidh Knott having scored twice from a driven line-out and Jackson and Neil Irvine-Hess having benefited from stray Gala passes and Jackson further from a tighthead strike.

The second half began equally grimly for Gala as winger Ross McCann hoofed the ball in the Maroons’ 22m area to score an easy try, Jackson kicking his fourth conversion.

Gala, who had scored in the first half from a Ross Coombe try after a break by Sasa Tolifau and the conversion by Connor Adams, added a second after the break when second row Rob Louw was driven over from a line-out.

Melrose then roared back with yet another try from a penalty line-out, this time by Dan Elkington, converted by Lockington, and after Gala’s George Lott had scored Gala’s third try the home side ran in tries by McCann and scrum-half Struan Hutchison, Jackson’s fifth conversion completing the rout.