by Laing Spiers
Berwick left Netherdale at speed on Saturday afternoon, but not because they were glad to see the back of the scene of a major disaster. They were simply hastening back home to join in a charity afternoon at which the jerseys they had just worn were going to be auctioned.
The sales pitch would be a bit short on reasons to acquire a rugby strip with such doubtful associations as an overwhelming defeat, but Berwick could still feel they took home some crumbs of satisfaction.
There were 14 tries on the day, some of them produced by genuinely enterprising rugby, others by a series of mistakes on both sides which gave the initiative away.
Gala coach George Graham was very disappointed with his side’s defence, in conceding three tries to a Berwick side which he acknowledged had capitalised on Gala’s sloppiness.
Berwick were far from downhearted. Owen Weatherhead, the team manager, saw great value in his team playing better opposition, and felt that his lads had learned something.
He said that Berwick had taken a lot out of the game even if they had made some errors. “Gala responded well to our mistakes,” he added.
Gala did the groundwork well and used their strength at the lineout to create the first two tries through front-row forwards Alan Johnston and Lewis Roden. Some clever play by the Berwick centres let Tony McDougal in for Berwick’s first try, but Gala quickly recovered.
Fraser Hunter, who had a good game, particularly in defence, linked with Lee Millar to create a try for Euan Dods, Millar converting, and then Alan Emond ended the best handling of the day so far with the bonus point try.
Bruce Dick finished off some sparkling play featuring Craig Dods with a try converted by Millar but David Gilchrist showed Berwick were not out of it with a try converted by Roy McFarlane.
With an interval lead of 29-12 Gala were looking comfortable, but stumbled a bit until George Graham scored, with Dick converting. Next up was Millar from a move featuring both the Grahams and Johnston, Dick converting.
Berwick’s Mark Laidlaw kicked well to set up a try for Gareth Hill, but another replacement, Ross Livingston, added Gala’s next try, followed by one from Gavin Young. Both were converted by Dick, who then added one himself, again adding the extra points.
Euan Dods collected Gala’s 11th try and kicked the first conversion of his Gala career to round off a day which had produced the Maroons’ biggest score since the Division 3 game against Livingston in 2007.
Gala: C Dods; G Young, B Dick, A Emond, F Hunter; L Millar, George Graham; A Johnston, L Roden, L Pettie, O Palepoi, D Marshall, E Dods, Gary Graham, T Weir. Subs: D Hughes, E McQuillan, C Keddie, R Livingston, M Walton.
Berwick: R McFarlane; M Brenan, M Hackett, M Laidlaw, J Webster; N Graham, J Patterson; D Ord, G Black, J Young, D Gilchrist, S Cockburn, P Pringle, T McDougal, C Young. Subs: G Hill, M McCreath, R Hume, C Pyle, T McColm.