Gala v Heriot's | Tennent's National League 1

Gala v Heriot's | Tennent's National League 1

Tennent’s National League Division 1 could be decided tomorrow [Saturday 16 April] when table toppers Gala host second place Heriot’s Blues at Netherdale (kick-off 3pm).

The rearranged fixture from January (due to covid) could decide the winner of National 1, ensuring promotion to the Tennent’s Premiership, replacing Aberdeen Grammar in the top-flight domestic competition next season.

The Borders are current league leaders with 84 points with capital side Heriot’s only two league points behind them on 82. For the league to be decided Gala must put themselves four league points clear of the city side at the end of the 80-minutes.

The simplest way for the Netherdale side to do this is to win the match and score four tries or more in the process, they must also ensure that they win by more than seven points and that Heriot’s do not score more than four tries.

If Heriot’s earn themselves a try-bonus, losing bonus point or even a draw, then it all comes down to fixtures on Saturday 23 April when Gala travel to Dundee and Cartha host Heriot’s.

If Gala are successful it will see them return to the Premiership for the first time since 2017.

If Heriot’s keep their promotion hopes alive, they could make history if they go up and become the first Scottish club with a Super6 franchise team have both their Men’s and Women’s amateur sides in their respective Tennent’s Premiership leagues next season.

With 12 teams in National League 1, it’s been a long season for these two teams who last met on Saturday 25 September at Goldenacre when Gala ran out winners 24 points to 34. Since then it’s been hard to separate the two sides with Gala only marginally ahead with 17 wins to Heriot’s 16, whilst Heriot’s have earned themselves 16 try-bonus point wins to Gala’s 14.

It will be a special day for Heriot's captain Graham Wilson who will make his 300th appearance for the side. The scrum-half has amassed the impressive appearance number over the course of 15-seasons for the city club.

On the match Gala Coach Stuart Johnson said: "We're looking forward to what should be an exciting game against Heriot's on Saturday with whoever coming out on top put themselves with one hand on the league trophy and promotion to the Tennent's Premiership next season.

"We've had a settled squad for the last few weeks and we're coming off the back of two hard caught victories against Highland and Biggar so we'll be going into the game firing in all cylinders but are under no illusions Heriots are in exactly the same boat with some great recent results.

"Heriot's like to play rugby and throw the ball around so our defence will need to at its best to contain them but we also know we can play and pose an attacking threat too.

"Both teams have have a had a great season so far and it’s great for the neutrals that the league has pretty much game down to this game. We have the best defence in the league and Heriots have the best attack (in terms of points conceded and scored) so this game should be a cracker."

Heriot's Head Coach Phil Smith said: "After the success of the Blues 2’s [winning their National Reserve league] we are desperate to back it up and give the club a huge end of season.

"The club are just delighted to be in a position to be competing for promotion after some really tight games in the season that could have gone either way.

"It will also be the first time we have had the opportunity as a 1st XV to gain promotion, which is very exciting.

"However, we are fully aware that Gala are an excellent team who have had a brilliant season and will have the whole town supporting them, it should be a cracker."

Gala Rugby: 15. Murray Wilson, 14. Fergus Johnston, 13. John Turnbull, 12. Rex Jeffrey - CAPTAIN, 11. Ben Gill, 10. Craig Dods, 9. Lachlan Johnston; 1. Jack Williamson, 2. Jack Easson, 3. Marius Tamosaitis, 4. Robbie Irvine, 5. Euan Dods, 6. Taylor Wilson, 7. Liam Scott, 8. Angus Dunn.

Replacements: 16. Kyle Scott, 17. Josh Irvine, 18. Stevie Cairns, 19. Tim McKavangh, 20. Scott Peffers

Heriot's Rugby: 15. Rory Steele, 14. Charlie Simpson, 13. Oisin Quinn, 12. John Semple, 11. Craig Robertson, 10. Rory Carmichael, 9. Graham Wilson - CAPTAIN; 1. Angus Munro, 2. Rory Jackson, 3. Ross Hutchison, 4. Callum Anderson, 5. Sean Johnstone, 6. Lewis Govenlock, 7. Innes Hill, 8. Ali Johnston.
Replacements: 16. Daniel Dineen, 17. Archie Bogle, 18. Martin Hughes, 19. Steven Simmers, 20. John Rae

Image credit: Alwyn Johnston

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