Gala 20- Peebles 27
Tom Haywood reports from Netherdale
In this clash of two of the great border rivals, a tight match occurred with both sides getting bonus points in Scottish Hydro Premier2. Both teams lost their first game of the season; Peebles losing in the last ten minutes against Aberdeen Grammar School in an incredibly close game. The Tweed Homes men were hoping to win this game to make amends for their scrappy game last week.
Peebles kicked off, and were on the attack straight away forcing Gala to kick to clear to their own twenty-two. Gala stole the ball out of a Peebles ruck, and it was then their turn to attack. Gala pushed into the Peebles half, but a quick steal by Peebles led to a break which gained a lot of ground. Another sudden break led to full back Donald Anderson slipping through for a try. Steve Gee converted this to take Peebles seven points into the lead. As soon as Gala kicked off, they were on the attack, but Peebles managed to stave them off, thanks to a few penalties being given, one on their own five metre line, and one for player discipline. Gala succeeded in keeping the pressure on Peebles though, and this paid off as on the twenty minute mark, as captain Opeta Palepoi made a break, and after three missed tackles, offloaded to winger Ross Lindsay who ran into the corner to score; Dean Keddie converting. Gala kept up the attack, and got a penalty shortly after right in front of the posts, which they missed. Peebles managed to get on the attack again, but gave away the chance by holding on in a ruck, and the referee awarded Gala another penalty. Gala kicked this to touch, and after some unsuccessful attacking play they went for three points via a drop kick, which only just missed, rebounding off the upright. Gala succeeded in getting another penalty, which they took quickly. The Peebles defence stayed solid however, and held them off long enough to allow them to clear up field. Gala put some fresh legs on the field with Mike Christie coming on for hooker Ewan McQuillan. Peebles started to attack, the new player not bothering them, and in the final play of the first half, Donald Sangster made a break from a ruck on the Gala five metre line and scored Peebles’ second try.
It had been a tough first half, both sides playing their hardest to score. Peebles had scraped into the lead at the end of it with a clever try by Donald Sangster, but there was still every chance for both sides to win.
Gala got off to a flying start, pushing Peebles back into their own twenty-two, and stealing the ball. Two minutes after the kick off, Gala broke through the Peebles line and scored a try, which was converted to take them into the lead. Both sides had phases of attacking and defending play, neither team gaining the upper hand. Peebles broke this stalemate, after a cross field kick took Peebles on a strong attack, and Peebles used this ball well, with Neil Hogarth making a break, offloading to Donald Anderson and he scored near the corner. Steve Gee missed the conversion. It was Gala’s turn to get some points next, and they did this with an easy penalty the referee gave in front of the posts. Gala needed to keep playing to the pace, and to do this they bought on some fresh players, Ewan McQuillan and Ryan Ormiston coming on for Ross Lindsay and former Peebles’ front rower Andrew Brown. This didn’t help Gala at all though, as a minute after they came on, Peebles had another try through Alan Smellie near the corner, and Donald Anderson converted it from sideline with ease. Peebles were clearly tired though, as they were pushed back, and gave away another three points, to take Gala within a single try of Peebles. Peebles managed to regain their 7 point advantage with a penalty shortly after by Donald Anderson. Gala put on one last spurt to get the seven points they needed to draw, but alas to no avail as the referee called time in the eighty first minute.
It had been a difficult game for both sides, but each one had got some points out of it, with a bonus point each. This win has put Peebles directly in the middle of the table in sixth.
After the game Peebles captain Willie Aitken said “It was a tough game, but an enjoyable one.”
Peebles had succeeded in improving on last week, with handling errors being reduced by half, and the defence speeding to set their line. Peebles looked to be on good form for the rest of the season.
Watch the highlights on Borders Rugby TV or the whole game