Gala have put a dent in the season of high-flying Dundee HSFP, securing victory at Mayfield and a place at Murrayfield for the RBS National Cup Final.
The Borderers triumphed on Tayside with a 26-19 win to book their spot in the final against Ayr on Saturday, April 21.
Tries from George Graham, the Gala scrum half, and one each from Craig Robertson and Andy McLean were enough to put Iain Rankin’s side to the sword in the sunshine, and claim some revenge for a narrow defeat at the same venue at the start of the month.
George Graham, the Gala head coach, praised his sides’ ability to capitalise on the chances to score when they came and the well organised defensive performance.
“I’m very, very pleased with the outcome. Particularly with the shape of the defence, they never got on the outside of us at all and the only time they did get through us was when we fell off a couple of tackles.
“Our set piece was under huge pressure today and I thought Euan Dods was magnificent at number 8 in controlling what was going on at the base of our scrum. All of the boys deserve congratulations though, it was a real team performance.
“When we were here two or three weeks ago in the league and we lost 15-12, we had been leading 12-10 with two minutes to go. All credit to Dundee as they play for the full 80 minutes but we managed to match them today so I’m really, really pleased.”
Although Gala took an early lead through the boot of fly half Lee Millar, it was perhaps Dundee who started the brighter with some incisive work around the breakdown.
With barely 10 minutes on the clock the visitors found themselves down to 14 men, when Millar was punished for a high tackle and yellow carded.
Dundee immediately capitalised on the advantage and a training ground lineout move saw Hawkins crashing through the short side to record the first score of the game.
Gala inched back into the lead with a penalty from McLean, who took over kicking duties in place of the absent Miller, with Dundee’s Jack Steele redressing the balance with a penalty of his own just a few minutes later.
Back to full strength, the visiting side stretched their lead with half an hour gone, scrum-half Graham reacting quickest to a penalty award for Dundee going offside. With a quick tap and go he sliced through the defence and touched down near the corner, Millar adding the conversion.
Another Millar penalty with five minutes to go in the first half completed a flawless kicking display from the Gala 10 and gave them the half time lead, 16-8.
Within a minute of the restart, Dundee closed the gap, Steele again with the three points to narrow the gap.
Mistakes in the Dundee ranks proved costly as first they were penalised for not binding at the scrum and although Millar missed his first kick of the day, when Dundee turned over Gala possession rather than secure it, the ball went loose and Gala left wing Robertson pounced just on the Dundee 22 and had a clear run into the try line.
Millar missed the conversion and was now zero from two in the second half with Dundee remaining in the hunt with another Steele penalty to give Gala a less than secure 21-14 lead going into the final fifteen minutes.
It became just a two point lead as the home side piled on the pressure and they eventually created the opportunity, full back Cameron Wyper exploiting an overlap and touching down. Crucially, Steele missed the conversion for Dundee but it was nip and tuck in the final ten minutes with Gala leading, 21-19.
Dods, in a man of the match performance, time and again rescued his sides scrum as it was blitzed by the Dundee eight, and it was his good work that gave a platform for the final try of the game which put the match beyond Dundee’s reach.
Good work from Dods on the narrow side freed the midfield to break tackles and the ball was fed infield for McLean, the full back, to race clear and create a crucial seven point gap.
There was no way back into the match for the home team and it is Gala who will travel to Murrayfield for the RBS National Cup Final on April 21.
Wyper, Mclean, Duthie, Lavery, Steele, Brown, A.Dymock. N.Dymock (Capt), Forrest, Brown, Linton, Hawkins, Cumming, McIvor, Levison
Russell, Robertson, Redmayne, Morrison, Lemon
McLean, Young, Turner, Emond, Robertson, Millar, George Graham, Pettie, Keddie, McQuillin, Weir, Palepoi,Garry Graham, Lowrie, Dods
Stewart, Cairns, Borthwick, Hunter, Marshall.