Two victories on Scottish soil and a win on the road for Melrose marked a successful opening weekend in the British & Irish Cup today.
Gala emerged triumphant in a keenly-contested home clash with London Scottish, fighting back from a half-time deficit to win 27-23. Melrose won 30-29 at Doncaster and Stirling enjoyed a thumping 40-25 victory over Neath. The only reverse for the home-based clubs was for Dundee who were beaten at Swansea.
It was three tries apiece at Netherdale, Grant Sommerville, Opeta Palepoi and Craig Robertson crossing for the hosts, Miles Mantella, Willie Lipp and Colin Quigley on the scoreboard for Scottish.
The difference, however, was made by the boot of Scotland Club International stand-off Lee Millar who converted all three of the Gala tries and added a penalty and late drop-goal for good measure, while Scottish mustered a conversion and two penalties from James Love.
At Bridgehaugh, Stirling County, dominating the early forward battle and benefiting from the incisiveness of Sean Kennedy at half-back, posted a well-deserved 40-25 victory over Neath, thus putting behind them their recent league misfortunes.
County, who led 23-6 at half-time, saw tries from Kennedy (2), Stevie Swindall, Danny Gilmour and Graham Lindsay. Brian Archibald kicked three conversions and three penalties.
At Doncaster, Melrose stormed back from 7-19 down at half-time to triumph 30-29 and were praised by their coach Craig Chalmers for maintaining the tempo of the game and for the impact of players off the bench.
Melrose’s tries came from Bruce Colvine, John Dalziel and Bruce Dick. All were converted by Andrew Skeen who also slotted two penalties with Joe Helps adding another.
Finally, Dundee HSFP succumbed 17-43 to Swansea at St Helens, conceding two interception tries when they were camped on the Welsh side’s line giving the hosts’ a somewhat flattering margin of victory.
Dundee’s points came from tries by Alan Brown, Andy McLean and Richie McIver with Jamie Urquhart popping over one conversion.