Hawick 27

Gala 21

Atholl Innes at Mansfield Park

THE Braw Lads fell agonisingly short of a win over Premiership side Hawick on Saturday at Mansfield Park - but laid the foundations for tough battles in National League 2 this season.

In the opening Booker Border League game of the season, two halves divided by a gale-force wind, Gala just failed to press home their advantage after trailing 7-22 at the interval.

“I thought that over the piece, we were the better team,” said coach Chris Dalgleish.

“We had gilt-edged opportunities, but failed to take them. But we had asked our guys to step up, and they did.

“For us, it was the chance for our young players to learn very quickly against a Premiership side. I knew that if we were able to hang on in the first half (against the wind), we would get our chances in the second half.

“It was just our second game of the season (after a win at Stirling County a week earlier), and I do not want to be too hard on them. We were looking for shoots of recovery.”

Hawick fielded what many would say was it strongest side without the injured Shawn Muir, and the Greens had to battle to take the bonus point, winning by four tries to three.

Captain Bruce McNeil seemed to have scored the winning try with 18 minutes left, but that was later officially accredited to replacement Matt Landels.

“Gala gave us a tough game,” said McNeil.

“But we stepped up from our previous performance against Kelso against a good Gala side. It showed that we have to adapt to the conditions, with the wind in our faces, as we were cruising at half-time and soon we were on the back foot.”

Gala fielded 22 players, a mixture of youth and experience, and there were more than several impressive displays, to mention just a few, Alan Emond, Graeme Speirs.

Gregor Hunter, Stevie Cairns, Lachlan Johnston and Rex Jeffrey.

But it looked ominous when Hawick surged into a 15-0 lead in 15 minutes with tries from Dom Buckley, Lewis Ferguson and Ross Combe, Ali Weir converting two. Gala hit back through Scott Wilkson and Hunter conversion.

Tries by Rex Jeffrey and Hunter, who converted both, cut the deficit to one point before Landels was driven over.

Gala still had chances before time ran out with referee Sam Grove White’s final whistle.

Gala: G. Speirs; S. Wilkinson, R. Jeffrey, A. Emond, C. Russell; G. Hunter, L. Johnston; C. Keen, J. Chambers, T. Logan, C. Weir, B. Reavely, R. Tod, F. Welsh & S. Cairns. Replacements: L. Roden, P. Stewart, C. Pate, J. Turnbull, D. Nicholson, J. Watson & R. Irvine.