A very wet and dismal day greeted this massive local derby between Melrose and Gala. Prior to the game Melrose were sitting 2nd in National One with Gala, following recent successes, moving to fifth in that League.
Melrose kicked off and within 4 minutes Gala stamped their intention on this game showing superior skill by Ruairi Howarth, the Gala full back, gathering a defensive kick out from Melrose. He had space to gather momentum and with a side stepping run opened up the Melrose defence. He was illegally brought down near the Melrose line and this resulted in a penalty to Gala. Euan Dods, the Gala No. 8 and Captain using his experience saw space and took the penalty quickly to himself befoe bundling over the line for Gala’s first try. This was a straightforward kick for Dean Keddie, Gala No 10, to take the score to Gala 7 Melrose 0.
Things were levelled by Melrose after 17 minutes when a penalty to Melrose was taken to the corner and they gathered from their own lineout which was flicked to the winger James Brown who dived over in the corner. Donald Crawford, Melrose fly half, converted to take the score to 7 all.
Five minutes later with Gala being awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Dean Keddie converted and took the score to Gala 10 Melrose 7.
There was more drama yet to come and with 34 minutes gone two Melrose players collided heads and the game was immediately stopped to allow treatment. When this had been sorted out, Gala were awarded the put in at the scrum as they were in possession and attacking when the incident took place. Euan Dods picked up at the back of the scrum and using his power forced himself over the line for his and Gala’s second try. Dean Keddie definitely had his kicking boots on and successfully converted from the touch to increase the Gala lead to Gala 17 Melrose 7. This is how the half finished whilst the players trooped off for a well earned break after a massive first half.
The second half was very much Border’s derby type rugby with some good handling and running. Excellent defensive tackling on both sides. Unfortunately during this there were several physical contests which were not quite within the rules of the game but this happens in such a heated, contested game.
The only score was after 34 minutes following a brilliant cross field kick by Dean Keddie, beautifully taken by Fergus Johnston in full flight on his wing. Fergus avoided a tackle before flicking the ball to Andrew Mitchell, Gala centre, who dived over the line to score Gala’s third try. Once again Dean Keddie continued his hundred per cent kicking game by converting this try.
Gala although extremely happy with this result felt that perhaps they had been denied the bonus point try on two occasions.
On the first occasion Melrose took a quick throw in at their line out before the line was formed. Nobody other than the player throwing in had touched the ball. This throw in was intercepted by Euan Dods who sprinted 25 metres to touch down. The referee decided the line out should be taken again and score was disallowed.
In the closing minutes after Gala again crossed the line to touch down but were called back to the half way line for a knock on. A greatly disputed decision by the Gala supporters but no blame to the referee, as it was another decision which may have been helped by assistant referees on the line instead of club touch judges with no decision making ability.
The Final Score was Gala 24 Melrose 7.
A grand end of the day for Gala and our local farmers who had had lunch at the club prior to the game.
The after lunch speaker was Andrew Ker a former Melrose player.
Their were mixed feelings for the Weir family with Doddie having strong Melrose loyalties and Dad, Jock Weir with son Chris with Gala feelings.