Hosts claim derby hon­ours by Head

The Herald - Sport - - RUGBY UNION, GOLF -

MEL­ROSE re­sumed their ti­tle chal­lenge with vic­tory over their close ri­vals Gala in a match that was not de­cided un­til the fi­nal two min­utes.

With the teams locked at 27-27, Gala lost back row Kris Mein to the sin-bin, al­low­ing Mel­rose to kick to cor­ner and launch a se­ries of close-range drives that ended with lock for­ward James Head scor­ing the win­ning try.

It was a dis­ap­point­ing end­ing for a Gala side that had bat­tled against the odds in the scrum and which at one stage in the sec­ond half led 27-17. But de­spite the en­ter­pris­ing play that brought them three tries, Gala were al­ways go­ing suf­fer against a more mus­cu­lar Mel­rose pack and par­tic­u­larly so in the front row.

“We’re strug­gling in the front row but the boys are try­ing their hearts out,” Ge­orge Graham, the Gala coach, said. “Chris Keen is do­ing very well in the tight­head for a guy who’s an out-and-out loose­head. Luke Pet­tie has a bat­tered and bruised body and we don’t have re­place­ments for them be­cause we’re strug­gling for cover,”

By con­trast, Mel­rose were able to ro­tate their props, us­ing Scot­land Un­der-20 cap Dan Elk­ing­ton and promis­ing front row Ruairi McLeod off the bench. The im­bal­ance in the packs in­creased when Gala lost Craig Borth­wick, with a shoul­der in­jury mid­way through the sec­ond half.

With so much scrum dom­i­nance, Mel­rose should have won more com­fort­ably but failed to main­tain their ini­tial in­ten­sity. “It was dis­ap­point­ing that we switched off but I was pleased that we kept the ball in the sec­ond half and went through the phases,” said their coach, John Dalziel.

Tries by Borth­wick and Alan Emond plus ac­cu­rate kick­ing from Dods gave Gala a 20-10 in­ter­val lead, with Mel­rose hav­ing scored through Nick Beavon and Lewis Carmichael. But touch­downs by Bruce Colvine, Sam Pec­queur on ei­ther side of a Graham Spiers try for Gala, made it all square be­fore Head claimed the win­ner.

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