Gala 28, Selkirk 17
NEVER-SAY-DIE SELKIRK KEEP GALA BANDWAGON IN CHECK IN BRUISING BORDER LEAGUE CONTEST
GAMES between Gala and Selkirk have always been fiery affairs, so it was perhaps no surprise when a fire tender from the local Galashiels station turned up shortly before kick-off on Friday night to attend a chip pan blaze incident in the Netherdale kitchens.
The action out on the pitch proved no less heated, with the Maroons eventually extinguishing Selkirk’s Booker Border League title ambitions with two tries in the final quarter to run out 28-17 winners in this Pool ‘B’ clash. With Gala currently flying high at the top of the RBS Premiership and on course to land their first Scottish Championship title since 1983, the Philiphaugh men deserve credit for a hugely gutsy display.
“Border League matches are different from any other,” Selkirk coach Brian Cassidy said after the final whistle, “and the players knew they’d all have to up their game to be in with a chance. I thought every single player pulled his weight tonight, and with just 16 minutes to go we were still in the lead.
“I told the boys not to leave an ounce of energy out on the pitch when they came back to the dressing room, and they did just that. I’m proud of the way they competed for the full 80 minutes, and wish Gala all the best for the rest of their Border League campaign.”
The match kicked off in front of a bumper Friday night crowd, and it took the visitors a while to adjust to the higher pace and intensity of the Maroons’ rugby. With two of their props out injured, Selkirk found scrummaging a particularly difficult area, although replacements Steven Renwick and Cata Graur stuck to their task throughout.
Even so, a series of scrums on the visitors’ try line saw the Gala pack put Selkirk under extreme pressure, and referee Cammy Rudkin eventually awarded a penalty try after a scrum disintegrated with the Maroons going for a pushover score. Lee Millar’s successful conversion put Gala 7-0 up with 10 minutes on the clock.
Soon afterwards a penalty award to Selkirk allowed Rory Banks to find touch on the halfway line, where the line-out was won by Andrew Renwick. The ball was shipped out to Gavin Craig, who fed full-back Fraser Harkness just inside the Selkirk half.
The Scotland sevens player exploded between Lee Millar, Kris Mein and Euan Dods on a blistering 50-metre run, feinting to chip over the head of Gav Young before rounding the full-back at speed to power over near the right-hand corner for a sensational try. Michael McVie’s successful touchline conversion levelled the scores.
The visitors then had to withstand a spell of sustained Gala pressure, but took a 10-7 lead in the 29th minute thanks to a 40-metre penalty from McVie, after Craig Keddie had been spoken to by the referee following a ruck infringement.
This sparked the visitors’ best spell of the game, with Selkirk openside Angus Duckett getting through a huge amount of work in the loose. Time and again the Kiwi’s dogged determination and uncanny ability to be in the right place at exactly the right time produced turnovers, either to allow the visitors to clear their lines, or else to spark attacks in Gala territory.
Just before the interval Scott Hendrie’s safe take of a towering Lee Millar kick kept the marauding Maroon players at bay, and in injury time Gala prop Ewan McQuillin was yellow-carded for going off his feet at a ruck.
The same fate befell Selkirk’s Andrew Renwick in the first minute of the second half, when he was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on a pass with Gala on the attack. Millar’s attempt at goal from the resultant penalty slid to the right of the posts.
The visitors’ respite was short-lived, however, and in the 47th minute Craig Keddie scored Gala’s second try following an eight-man shove by the home pack. Millar’s conversion put the Maroons back in front at 14-10.
A penalty attempt by McVie after 49 minutes rebounded back off a post, but Selkirk kept up the pressure and the home team found themselves down to 13 men following Chris Auld’s yellow card. Soon afterwards McQuillin and Renwick returned to the field together, despite having been sin-binned at different times.
Selkirk regained the lead in the 55th minute. Matt Kissick did well to control difficult ball at the tail of a line-out outside the home 22, and Gavin Craig made ground towards the posts before slipping the ball to Graur. The Romanian prop managed a skilful one-handed off-load to Ryan Crockatt, and the number eight dived over for a try under the posts. McVie’s conversion put Selkirk 17-14 ahead.
This was the signal for Gala to redouble their efforts, with the home forwards continuing to dominate the scrums and press hard in the loose. Selkirk’s players rose to the challenge, however, and a rousing 40-metre break clean up the middle by Gavin Craig just fell short after his final pass didn’t go to hand.
With some of Selkirk’s players beginning to show the first signs of fatigue, Gala’s pacy wing Grant Somerville found gaps in the visitors’ defence down the right flank to sprint over for a try, putting the Maroons 21-17 ahead thanks to Millar’s conversion.
Two more turnovers by the indefatigable Duckett under the shadow of his own posts kept Gala at bay as the Maroons ramped up the pressure, and Chris Weir’s men put the result beyond doubt when the referee awarded another penalty try against the visitors’ scrum in the 82nd minute.
GALA: G. Young, G. Somerville, C. Auld, B. Turner,
C. Robertson, L. Millar, A. Owenson, M. Christie, C. Mackintosh, E. McQuillin, C. Weir, G. Graham, C. Keddie, K.
Mein, E. Dods. Reps: R. Anderson, D. Marshall, S. Cairns, A. McLean, A. Emond.
SELKIRK: F. Harkness, R. Banks, S. Hendrie, R. Nixon, D. Clapperton, G. Craig, M. McVie, S. Renwick, S. Forrest, C. Graur, A. Renwick, M. Kissick, E. MacDougall, A. Duckett, R. Crockatt. Reps: K. Monks, J. Bett, M. Waldron, E. Turner, A. Lambie.
Referee – Cammy Rudkin (Hawick).