The players came out on to the pitch at Myreside at 3.pm on Saturday, February 15th 2020 into horrendous weather conditions. There was a howling gale blowing down the pitch into the faces of the Gala team and this was accompanied by driving heavy rain.
The game kicked off and very quickly we could see how the conditions were affecting play. Gala did well controlling the ball and keeping it tight whilst Watsonians used the wind assisted kicking game to gain territory. The handling of the Gala backs catching high balls swinging about in the air was admirable.
The first score went to Gala after just 4 minutes when fly half Dean Keddie made a clever break deep into Watsonians territory before, on being tackled he cleverly popped the ball to Rex Jeffreys (Captain)
playing at centre. Rex sprinted to the line and touched down. This was converted by Dean Keddie with a good kick into the wind to give Gala a 7 point lead.
This was not to last as during a further Gala attack the forwards lost the ball and created an opportunity for Watsonians to break from their own 22 metre area and when finally tackled Watsonians managed to pass to the support player who scored a fine opportunist try. This was converted to even the score to 7 each.
With weather assisted kicking Watsonians started to gain the upper hand and after 14 minutes following good forwards pressure on the Gala line Watsonians pushed over near the corner to touch down. This was unconverted and took the score to Watsonians 12 Gala 7.
The game continued with Gala defending well despite the conditions, trying to maintain the narrow gap, before the teams changed ends. Unfortunately this was not to be with a free kick being awarded against Gala for early engagement in the scrum only 5 metres from their own line. Watsonians took advantage of this to score a push over try which was converted.
This took the half time score to Watsonians 19 Gala 7. The referee decided to keep both teams on the pitch for the half time break of 5 minutes. He was obviously trying to get the game completed before the weather got any worse but there were 30 very wet very cold players at the restart.
With the wind behind Gala started the second half with determination to turn the game round. After only 4 minutes they were awarded a penalty just outside the Watsonian 22 metre area. Dean Keddie successful converted this to narrow the gap to Watsonians 19 Gala 10.
Ten minutes later with a further penalty to Gala in the centre of the pitch inside the 22m Dean Keddie again narrowed the gap bringing Gala back into the game at 19 - 13 down.
With twelve minutes to go Gala were again pressuring the Watsonian line and from a rolling maul the Gala hooker Jack Easson managed to pick up and charge forward to the line to touch down for Gala’s second try.
The Gala supporters waited with their hearts in their mouths as the Gala full back, Ross Cooke, lined up the conversion attempt. He was outside the 22 and only 5 metres in from touch. An extremely difficult kick under the weather conditions. Ross struck the ball well and Gala were delighted to see the touch judges flags raised indicating a successful conversion. Gala were back in the lead but by 1 point only.
The game continued with Watsonians trying very hard to regain the lead. With 8 minutes to go the referee gave the Captains the opportunity to abandon the game due to conditions. Rex Jeffreys showed remarkable sportsmanship when he opted to carry on despite the situation that the result would have stood.
Watsonians were camped on the Gala line for the last few minutes but Gala held out and all the Border’s visitors were delighted to take 4 points away from an immensely difficult game. The players were very pleased to get into the hot showers to revive their freezing bodies. One of the Watsonian players did succumb and had to be treated for hypothermia after the game.
The final score on this very hard fought game was Watsonians 19 Gala 20. Both teams must be praised for managing to compete this fixture whilst giving the few supporters, mainly Gala, an exciting game in shocking conditions.
Back to Netherdale next Saturday with a home fixture against Highland kicking off at 3.pm.