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Gala :24 - Currie 49 :
A View from the Touchline – BT Premier League: 5.11.16

Gala 24 pts (t 3, c 3, pg 1) v Currie 49 pts (t 8, c 3, pg 1)

Following the relatively mild autumn weather of recent weeks, a bitingly cold wind signalled the first pangs of winter, but the Netherdale crowd were warmed by a competitive display of rugby that turned out to be just a little too hot for the hosts to handle, and Currie ran in eight tries for an emphatic win.

Gala ground out a slender victory when these teams met earlier in the season at Malleny Park, thanks mainly to their more street-wise approach and a robust performance from the pack. In the first few minutes of this return fixture, the Maroons gave notice of what they had in store for the visitors; the Currie scrum was creaking as the feisty Gala forwards edged towards their goal-line. Were it not for some outstanding defence that was evidenced throughout the afternoon, Currie could have cracked under the onslaught. At crucial times the marauding Maroons made sloppy mistakes, and Currie took advantage to reverse the flow. Jamie Forbes made one of his outstanding breaks that took play deep into the home 22, as early play moved up and down the pitch quicker than the fallen leaves on the steady cold breeze. Gala went close, but Currie had the composure and skill to convert their chances into points; that ‘killer’ instinct that Ben Cairns is instilling in his young charges was registering. The visitors won a lineout on the Gala 22 which allowed the backs to make inroads; the forwards kept it going with impressive support. From 10 metres out, hard-working Hamish Bain took a short pass, side-stepped a tackler and sprinted over for a try which Jamie Forbes converted.

Were it not for a knock-on following another splendid build-up, Currie could have gone further ahead. Gala regrouped and started an assault of their own, but Currie’s defence was too good to let them through and they opted for a penalty goal to open their account after twenty minutes. Currie’s response was immediate with exciting lively play which denied the Maroons possession, and had them plugging holes in a stretched defence. Ben Robbins chipped his opposite number and chased the loose ball into the 22, the ball was hacked on and Harvey Elms used his speed for the touchdown; the try was not converted.

When Sasa Tofilau, the Edinburgh centre had a chance to run, he added sparkle to a Gala backline who looked capable if given space; the overlap was created and the ball moved swiftly to Ross Combe who sailed in for a try near the flag; the reliable boot of Gregor Hunter converted. This score showed that the Maroons had the ability to hurt Currie if given the opportunity. The visitors tightened up and put their attacking prowess into action; some wonderful handling was rewarded with an unconverted corner-flag try for the electric Ben Robbins. Currie continued to press and looked to have scored, but the ball was held up and the referee referred back to an off-side penalty that Jamie Forbes kicked with ease on halftime.
Halftime score – Gala 10 pts, Currie 20 pts
As expected, Gala started the second half in boisterous fashion, but despite their efforts, they could not get out of their half, and it appeared only a matter of time before the visitors added to their score. Luke Crosbie, who has been a colossus since his return from injury, went close, following good work by Cameron Hutchinson, Steven Ainslie, Graham Carson and John Cox. From under their posts, Gala started a promising attack that progressed into Currie territory. The home team were looking dangerous, but an unfortunate ill-judged pass was cleverly intercepted by Ben Robbins on half-way. The Currie wing outstripped the chasing defenders to score under the posts; Jamie Forbes converted the bonus point try.

On those rare occasions during the second half, when Gala got into Currie’s 22, they scored. It was perhaps testament to Currie’s dominance and the Maroons’ ineptitude, but when they did get it right, Gala looked good and it resulted in tries for winger Craig Robertson and back row Stevie Cairns; both converted by Gregor Hunter. By the time that Gala’s third try was scored, Currie were out of sight; further tries from Steven Ainslie, the impregnable Robbie Nelson and Scott McGinley; Harvey Elms converted one of them. With full-time imminent, the majority thought that the scoring was over, apart, that is, from Charlie Shiel, who had contributed enormously to Currie’s success. The agile scrum-half had made a number of sizzling breaks during the match, but none as exciting as his final burst from half-way; it was an outstanding run that evaded tacklers as he dashed to the corner for an unconverted try. Next match, Dec. 3rd at Malleny Park v Melrose, KO 3.00pm. IJS, 6.11.16

Updated 05/11/2016 by Ian Gidney