Report by Sally Pincott
It started out a reasonably dry day overhead at Meggetland but below foot it was more like the Okefenokee swamps of South Georgia. The wind was light but the rain which was forecast for later in the day never really came, thank goodness.
The Meggetland men were keen to play after two weeks of disruption to training and no game the previous week.
A reasonably settled squad saw the loss to the first XV of captain and talisman Ally MacLeod late on Friday. Plenty willing and able players in the wings, so no major disruption caused.
Conditions would mean mistakes would happen and errors made and Muir were soon making them. A penalty 30m out in front of the posts saw Gala 2nds 3-0 up after 5 mins. Then after 8 mins another silly error saw us punished again by the boot of the Gala 10. The first half was really tale of silly mistakes by both teams with sporadic good play.
Some nice breaks by both teams could not be finished off and the game was getting a little tense too. Captains were spoken to twice with the Gala captain having another 2 discussions with the referee on top of that.
In the 36 min described as “idiotic and senseless thuggery” from the Gala no. 6 saw him intentionally head-butt a Muir player. Shouts of disgust were even heard from the Gala travelling support.
An altercation ensued as Muir and Gala’s own players tried to break up the attack. Unfortunately for one Muir player, Sam Johnson, a perceived defensive action seen by the referee resulted in two red cards, one for each team.
Half time came soon after that as tempers were slightly frayed.
2nd half saw Gala go 9-0 up after 3 mins. Silly play again by Muir saw us holding onto a player on the ground. 5 mins in saw Gala get a lineout on the Muir 22. A lovely catch and Drive saw them create 2 quick rucks and then drive over for the 5 points. A well-deserved try and well executed. Conversion was good, so 16-0 up to Gala.
The rest of the half was really dominated by Muir and they stayed in the Gala half most of the game. With the referee speaking with the Gala captain on multiple occasions, it was not until the 60th minute he eventually yellow carded the industrious Gala number 7.
With 5mins to go Muir did have the last say. Some great work by the forwards in the Gala half saw the ball released to the backs and the elusive Farquharson evaded a few tackles and fed out wide to a pacey Gilligan who dotted down.
Conversion missed but a well-deserved 5 points.
When the final whistle came it has to be said Gala deserved the win but Muir could have grabbed a bonus point which would have been a fair reflection. The opinion from the side-lines of the Gala team were that they were a reasonable team but certainly beatable. Muir just needed a bit more continuity and finishing ability.
Final score 5-16.
A good performance from a few players such as Ed Farchharson and Alex Clark with young Aaron Wilson showing he deserves his place. Good to see Adam Davies returning for 30 minutes and happy to report no lasting damage to no.8 Stu Clark after receiving a ruck to the head, with the offending Gala player quoted "I was aiming for your body."
The young referee was, I believe, stepping up to this level for the first time and although he communicated well his feedback, for his development will be to focus on control and positioning. As with players he will learn from this and we wish him well as he goes on.
A very tough game to manage, even for the most experienced official.
Hamilton next week so lets pray for sunshine!