Premiership 1: Gala’s resilience takes them to top

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GALA moved to the top of Premiership 1 with a performance full of the passion and resilience that have been their trademarks this season.

Gala won the try count 2-0 and at one time towards the end of the game were down to 13 men with props Luke Pettie and Ewan McQuillin in the sin bin and the scrums uncontested. But Melrose, who had earlier lost Ross Millar and Blair Hutchison to yellow cards, were repelled by Gala and must have wondered how they failed to breach the visitors’ defence. Gala coach George Graham said: “I thought our defence was phenomenal when we lost our two front-row players [to yellow cards] and it showed the spirit we have in the side. When they were off, Melrose never scored a point and that was a huge boost to the players.”

Melrose assistant coach John Dalziel said that players were bitterly disappointed. “I thought we were on top for the first 55 minutes or so and it came down to the last 15 minutes when we had a lot of possession,” he said. “We were gutted with the way we performed then and with more composure we could have finished the game off.”

Melrose were 9-7 ahead at the interval through two Richard Mill penalties and one by Joe Helps to a penalty try, Gala’s third in two successive games, and a Lee Millar conversion. Grant Somerville’s try in the right-hand corner and Millar’s conversion and penalty after the interval put Gala in the driving seat until Andrew Skeen kicked a goal for Melrose. The visitors, however, held off the home challenge and will move on to Ayr with an air of confidence.

Scorers: Melrose. Pens, Mill (2), Helps, Skeen. Gala. Tries, penalty try, Somerville. Cons, Millar (2). Pen, Millar..

Melrose: F. Thomson; B. Colvine, J. Murray, J. Helps. B. Hutchison; R. Mill, S. McCormick; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, R. Ovens, R. Miller, J. Dalziel, G. Runciman, A. Nagle. Replacements: W. Mitchell, C. Keen, D. Crawford, A. Skeen, S. Chalmers..

Gala: A. McLean; G. Somerville, C. Auld, A. Emond, C. Robertson; L. Millar, George Graham; L. Pettie, R. Anderson, E. McQuillin, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, C. Keddie, Gary Graham, E. Dods. Replacements: C. Mackintosh, K. Mein, S. Cairns, B. Turner, G. Young..

Referee: C Samson