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Gala 17 Dundee High 16: Win to swear by

You don't like to intrude on private grief, but privacy was clearly not the priority of Gala coach George Graham as he f-bombed his way through his debrief after this match.

George Graham goes over to give Gala an early lead Photograph: Mark Mainz
George Graham goes over to give Gala an early lead Photograph: Mark Mainz

In sanitised form, the gist of his tirade – poignantly, much of it was directed at his son George – was that Gala had had enough ball to win this match twice over, but that they had lacked the composure to make that advantage tell. That summary might do Dundee a disservice, but most neutrals would agree the former Scotland forwards coach had a fair point.

"I think we were very fortunate today," explained Graham, in slightly less ballistic mode. "I was very unhappy with some of the decision-making. It was shocking. We were getting slow ball, digging it out, and then not making the best of the ball we got.

"We never controlled possession. We never controlled territory. We played into Dundee's hands. Still, it's a great situation to be unhappy when you're winning. We might be winning ugly, but last year we were losing ugly."

One look at Gala's recent results may help to explain why Graham's spleen-venting had such a colourful twist. Astonishingly, three of their last four RBS Premiership wins have been by a margin of just one point. They may be handily placed in the table, tucked in just behind leaders Ayr, but they are not exactly making life easy for themselves.

In fairness, Dundee were not of a mind to give their hosts an armchair ride either. After a thumping at Boroughmuir last weekend, the Taysiders were determined to restore some pride, and they did so with an abrasive performance, which turned every breakdown into a dogfight. Had they enjoyed a few more favours from referee Peter Allan – or, as coach Ian Rankin would have it, any favours at all – they could have finished on top.

As it is, they came maddeningly close to that, leading for a long period after overcoming the setback of conceding a try after just two minutes. Even after being reined in by Gala, they nudged themselves in front in the 71st minute with a penalty by centre Jack Steele, only to lose it again when Gala's Lee Millar hit the winning penalty four minutes from the end.

It was a fascinating contest throughout, as much a nip-and-tuck affair on the pitch as it was on the scoreboard. Sadly, Gala's victory was overshadowed by the injury suffered by Gerald Sibanda, their Zimbabwe sevens star. Sibanda's two previous outings had been brought to premature ends by shoulder dislocations, and he appeared to suffer the same fate after taking heavy contact for the first time. Afterwards, Graham hinted that the winger's time at the club is ending.

For all the pelters he received at the end, George Graham Jnr had got the game off to a lively start with a clever try after just two minutes, slipping under a couple of dozy defenders after a scrum had been wheeled on the Dundee line. Eleven minutes later, however, Dundee fly-half Brandyn Laursen responded with a score for the visitors, taking a pass from Ross Lemon to finish off a move that had been ignited by Andy Dymock pouncing on a loose ball 50 yards up the pitch.

After that, it was penalties all the way, with Millar overcoming some early jitters to settle it at the death.

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