Gala 31, Stirling County 9

GALA compensated for previous indignity at Stirling County's hands by

proving quicker in thought and superior in fitness for a four tries to

one triumph on Saturday at Netherdale.

Gala stepped up the pace and transformed a 9-9 half-time situation by

winning the second half 22-0. Their scrummage was the steadier, and

although Malcolm Norval got most first touches at the lineouts, those

that were not swept by John Gibson or Jim Brough proved embarrassing, as

when Gary Isaac scored the opening try from a Norval deflection in a

close-range lineout.

Brough made several exciting charges and there were useful utility

contributions from Chris Brown. Gala's front row not only took a strike

against the put-in to ease one panic situation but they were more

prominent in loose play, Ian Corcoran giving an admirable lead that

brought ready response from the versatile Graeme Shepherd and eventually

from the loose forwards.

Stirling had a penetrative force in the abrasive 19-year-old Ken Logan

who once was chopped just two metres out, and Ian Jardine showed why he

went on Scotland's tour to North America in May with several impressive

offerings, not least in timely tackles. But some of Stirling's punting

from hand proved meat and drink to Gala's organised cover, and there was

no attack threat from half back, although Ken Harper proved resilient in


Gala's backs excelled in utilising the surprise element. Peter Dods,

setting a rare target in efficiency and composure, slotted three penalty

goals and three conversions from eight attempts, his brother Michael

proved a secure auxiliary full back, and Gregor Townsend, growing in

stature, made one electric break off the uncommonly useful Hamish

Hunter's lineout sweep to create the first of Jim Maitland's two tries

with Corcoran providing the linkage. Peter Dod's touchline conversion

virtually shut the door at 22-9 after 57 minutes.

Yet Stirling had slightly the better of the first half in which they

took the lead with Calum McDonald's penalty goal for offside. That

brought his points for the season to 160 and he added the conversion to

a superb try by Angus Turner for 9-9 near the break. Turner thus

compensated for mishandling with a try on offer after another threat by


Soon after that, Brough did some productive driving, Stewart Hamilton

burrowed and fed, Jardine threatened on the right, before Jimmy Stewart

and Logan, going left, enabled Turner, on his opposite flank, to drift

inside Maitland and John Amos to dot down near the posts.

In the second half, however, Peter Dods kept on slotting goals, David

Boland made telling use of the narrow side, referee Ken McCartney still

put his benevolent imprint on the proceedings despite a tweaked

hamstring, and Gala added three tries, all in the right corner but each

of contrasting creation. When Maitland was tackled near the corner flag

after brilliant touches by the Dods brothers and Amos, Norval's

deflection was guided by Shepherd for Boland to snipe in near the

corner. Maitland's second try was cheeky stuff. He threw in quickly to

Boland and got it back for a snap score. Peter Dods banged the

conversion through from the touchline to bring his career haul for Gala

to 2126 points in 298 games.

Gala -- P W Dods; J M Maitland, J G L Turnbull, B Learmonth, M Dods; G

P J Townsend, D A Boland; G R Isaac, I Corcoran, H A Hunter, J Laing, G

M Shepherd, D W A Gilchrist, D R Liddle, J P Amos.

Stirling County -- C T McDonald; A S Turner, J G McLaren, I C Jardine,

K M Logan; J P Stewart, K G M Harper; J T Gibson, K D McKenzie, G B

Robertson, J S Hamilton, M Norval, D C Elliot, J Brough, C H Brown.

Referee -- K W McCartney (Hawick).