Gala...................... 20 Watsonians...................... 59

Watsonians gave their hopes of winning the Tennents Cup a substantial boost by eventually crushing a plucky Gala side in yesterday's fifth round tie at Netherdale to secure a place in the quarter finals.

Yet for all that they ran in eight tries to Gala's two, Watsonians for much of the game lacked the killer touch that they may yet need in the later stages of the competition.

Andrew Ker, the Watsonians' backs' coach put it down to rustiness. ''We have not played as a side since March 8 when we defeated Hawick Trades in our fourth round tie.

Ker added: ''Gala stuck in for 60 minutes. But we have a lot of players on contract and eventually their

fitness showed through.

''But what was also evident was the difference in standard between the top of the first division and the lower end of the second


That difference showed most in Watsonians' ability to move the ball skilfully when attacking opportunities presented themselves, albeit that the Edinburgh side perhaps tried to open out too often for their own good.

And especially so against an

agressive Gala defence that was clearly fired up for this match.

The other big difference was the overall pace of Watsonians' back five forwards or rather back six, Rob Wainwright who had been nursing a slight injury coming on at half time as the substitute for Craig Brown.

Watsonians also had the power, speed and skill of Scotland and Lions tour prop Tom Smith whose class told in so many of areas of the game.

Gala, who certainly made a contest of this tie in the first half, had quality players in No 8 Tom Weir and stand-off Chris Paterson.

Weir's line-out contributions if not quite 'Doddiesque,' were useful to the Borderers while Paterson, still in the under 19 ranks, showed the value of pace in the number 10 position. He is certainly one to look out for in the future.

It all looked too easy for Watsonians in the opening few minutes as first Duncan Hodge stroked over a penalty goal and then Ian Sinclair, supporting a run by Gordon Hannah, touched down for an unconverted try.

Gala, however, were not ready to submit at such an early stage of the game and roared back into the game with a try by Chris Dalgleish from David Boland's high kick that eluded full back David Giles.

Paterson converted but a second Hodge penalty gave Watsonians breathing space.

Gala, fired up for this cup tie, then gave away a needless penalty, awarded for an uncerimonious but extremely dangerous upending in the line-out of an airborn Jason White. Hodge

punished the misdemeanour with his third successful penalty.

Paterson reduced Watsonians' lead with a penalty goal and the young stand-off all but repeated the dose minutes later only for his kick to strike the left upright.

Gala were worth the penalty points but it was Watsonians who added to the scoreline just before half time with a try by Jamie Mayer, the Scotland under 21 centre angling his midfield run to perfection to take Hodge's neatly weighted pass.

Gala struck first in the second half with a second penalty goal from Paterson but these points provided only false hopes as the succesful kick proved to be the prelude to a sustained period of scoring for the Myresiders.

Ironically, it was Paterson who laid on the first of this batch of tries for Watsonians, the stand-off making a searing break but then off loading the ball to none other than his Scotland under 19 captain who galloped 40 metres for an opportunist try.

From the restart, Watsonians struck again, substitutes Fergus Henderson and Rob Wainwright making the running for a try by scrum half Graeme Burns.

Then it was the turn of John Kerr to add his name to the list of scorers as the district wing blazed in from the blindside to take Hodge's inside pass for an unstoppable try. With Gala beginning to reel from the Watsonians' onslaught full back Giles raced down the left flank for his side's sixth touchdown before under 21 cap Philip Fitzgerald arrived on the end of clever interpassing by Tom Smith, Cameron Mather and Burns to touch down.

Brian Swan gave the miserably small home crowd something to cheer about when he ran in Gala's second try from a well timed Paterson pass, but two minutes before the final whistle, Watsonians had a final

plunder as Giles ran in his second try.

Scorers: Gala - Paterson 1p2c, C Dalgleish 1t Swan 1t. Watsonians Hodge 3p5c, Giles 2t, Sinclair 1t, Mayer 1t, Burns 1t, Fitzgerald 1t, White 1t, Kerr 1t.

Gala - Changleng; C Dalgleish, G Dalgleish, Swan, Smith; Paterson, Boland; Johnston, Thomson, Walker, Caverhill, Gray, Rutherford, Weir, Liddle.

Watsonians - Gyles; Hannah, Mayer, Garry, Kerr; Hodge, Burns; Smith, McKelvey, Fitzgerald, Grimes, White, Mather, Brown, Sinclair. Replacements Henderson for Hannah 35 mins, Wainwright for Brown 42 mins Referee I Ramage (Berwick). Replacements: Weston for Burns (63), Penny for Sinclair (72).

qWASPS narrowly defended their lead at the top of England's Courage League division one when stand-off Alex King scored a last-move try to give them a dramatic draw against champions Bath.

Gareth Rees needed to make a conversion from the left touchline to square the match, and he managed it, just as Jonathan Callard had landed a controversial touchline kick to convert Bath's second try. The London club are now only three points ahead of Leicester, who have two games in hand, and the Tigers have a superior points difference.

By alan lorimer