Bulls lose out in arm wrestle with Gala
By JIm Browning
Bulls 14 - Gala 27
Gala Rugby visited Laigh bent with the Hamilton lads intent on revenge for the defeat at Gal early in the season. However it was a lacklustre performance from Hamilton in the first half, and Gals’s heavy forwards played 10 man rugby to wear down the Hamilton defence and emerge with the victory by 27 to 14.
After last week’s try fest the home support anticipated more of the same, but the Bulls were playing catch up from the kick off when the ball was allowed to travel over the goal line having been touched by a Hamilton hand. From the 5 metre scrum, Gal played pick and go rugby and prop Logan, powered over for an easy conversion for Cooke. Bulls stuck to their game plan, pushing the ball wide to move the heavy pack around, but vital handling errors at crucial moments, gave possession back to Gala. Their approach of moving the ball only one pass to pods of three forced the ball into Hamilton territory, where the home side defended stoutly. Gal’s second, on 15 minutes came from a loose Gala pass which was eventually picked up by stand off Fairbairn. He took the defence by surprise and waltzed through to 5 metres where a smart off load put number 8 Dods in under the posts for an easy conversion.
Bulls spent much of the rest of the half trying to get back into the game, but they tended to force the game, making handling errors in good positions, and failed to cross the whitewash. Things got even worse when winger James Howatson
was given the first of Hamilton’s 2 yellow cards as Half time approached. The Bulls pack struggled with the referee’s interpretation of the scrum law and were repeatedly pushed back by giving away cheap penalties.
Gala began the second half with the numerical advantage and within 5 minutes were rewarded with a penalty in front of posts, converted by Cooke. Hamilton hit back immediately when right wing, Ben Plant
popped up wide on the left to find the gap and cross for the Bulls first reply. McLeish converted from wide out. Having held their own while down to 14 Hamilton continued to push, but scrum penalties cost them dear and Gala were able to slot another penalty to take the lead out to 20 – 7. Bulls again took the game to their opponents but things got more difficult after both McLeish and Inglis were removed from play having suffered serious head knocks. Gala took advantage of the disruption to Hamilton’s shape and hooker C Keen, burrowed over for Gala’s third converted try. Despite this, it was Hamilton who scored next with some great handling out to the wing where Josh White
was lurking, and showed a rare turn of pace to go over in the corner. Substitute, Tom Decelle knocked over the conversion from the touch line. This set up a thrilling last 5 minutes, but neither side could break the other’s defence. Coach David Gemmell said “This was a very frustrating day. We were slow to wake up and lacked energy in the early exchanges. The Yellow cards, and injuries really hurt us. We need to learn to look after the ball better when we have it and make better on field decision. I can’t fault the effort though.”