Aberdeen Grammar 28

Gala 34

Jack Nixon at Rubislaw

GALA eased their way into life in National League 1, in their first league game since being relegated.

And after 20 minutes, during which the Netherdale side scored two tries, their minds were clearly on returning to the Premiership as quickly as possible.

Thereafter there was a complacency about the Gala play which was not to the satisfaction of head coach Chris Dalgliesh who certainly had not included the conceding of four tries.

But by the end of the afternoon, the demanding coach was reasonably happy with the outcome.

''The first game of any season is always a test. Getting a win was always the priority, picking up maximum points is a bonus, but giving away four tries was never part of the plan. We've still work to do as you might expect so early in the season,'' said Dalgliesh.

Gala were first out of the blocks, easing into the lead after only five minutes when lock Chris Weir raced over in the corner after a spell of pressure from the Border side, followed 15 minutes later by winger Scott Wilkinson searing home after a fine release from Graham Spiers. Stand off Gregor Hunter converted the second touchdown.

But instead of pushing on the visitors allowed Grammar to regroup, which they did to some effect, scoring two converted tries to take a shock 14 - 12 lead.

Home indiscipline cost them a precious half-time lead, enabling Hunter to retain his side's advantage with a well struck penalty to make it 15 - 14 at the break.

Gala raised their game in the second half, and after three well taken tries, two which were converted by the reliable Hunter, it looked like the Netherdale side were home and dry at 34-14 to the good.

The visiting touchdowns came from Spiers, a second for the flying Wilkinson and one from left winger Craig Russell.

To their credit Aberdeen Grammar refused to give up, raging back with two quality tries from winger Matt Arnold who jinked inside the Gala cover, and a rollicking run from second rower Aaron Robertson.

And with home stand Bryn Perrott kicking his fourth conversion of the afternoon four minutes from time, Gala suddenly looked in danger of losing a game they had seemed to be in control of for long spells.

Fortunately for the small band of travelling supporters, the visitors were up to the challenge, taking the play upfield, and had Hunter been on target with a penalty would have denied the valiant home side a much deserved losing bonus point in the last play of the day.

A home game with Dundee High on Saturday may look easier on paper for Gala, though it should be noted the Caledonia side beat Falkirk 33-0 in their opener, reminding coach Dalgliesh, if he needed any reminding that there are no easy games in National League 1.

Gala team: G.Speirs (c); S.Wilkinson, R.Jeffrey, A.Edmond, C.Russell; G.Turner, L.Johnston; C.Keen, L.Roder, T.Logan, C.Weir, B. Reaveley, R.Tod, F.Welsh and S.Cairns. Replacements: P.Stewart, C.Pate, R.Irvine, J.Turnbull, D.Nicholson.