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Gala 20 Llanelli 33: Defeat is the price of costly giveaways

Gala may have been disappointed with the final scoreline, but when the Maroons look back on their fifth-round British and Irish Cup game against the likely group winners, Llanelli, at Netherdale yesterday the distance of time may give a different perspective on their performance.

At the end of a hard match against a side containing eight of the Scarlets squad, Gala ended up on the wrong end of a 4-3 try count. But the Netherdale men can take immense satisfaction from both the quality of their scores and the fact they crossed their opponents' line on three occasions.

What will irk Gala is that they donated easy scores to Llanelli and effectively handed the Welsh side victory. "We gifted two soft tries to them and it was difficult to come back after that," lamented Gala's coach, George Graham.

Gala, however, tried to be creative and achieved some sublime off-loads as they tried to prise open Llanelli's defence. Disappointingly, the Welsh were less adventurous behind the scrum and for the most part depended on applying professional pressure on their opponents and using long kicking from hand by half-backs Aled Davies and Owen Williams.

Llanelli led 20-10 at the break from tries by full-back Dion Jones, Stuart Leach from close range and Duane Eager capitalising on a mistake by Gala's Gavin Young, Williams kicking a conversion and a penalty.

Gala flanker Gary Graham scored a well-worked try, converted by the ever-impressive Lee Millar, who added a penalty goal. But they were hit by a controversial try right after the break, as Eager took his second after what appeared to be a knock-on and a couple of forward passes.

The Maroons, however, showed real fighting spirit with sustained attacking rugby that ended with Millar drawing the defence before giving a short pass to Chris Auld, whose long pass to Andy McLean gave the full-back an impressive try in the corner.

A Williams penalty put Llanelli 15 points clear only for Gala to score a top-drawer try: Millar put in a flat cross-kick letting unmarked Craig Robertson pluck the ball from the air and touch down. But it was Llanelli who had the final say, with a penalty goal by Williams sealing a bonus-point victory.

Bruce Gilmour

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