A 3rd tough match in a row faced this young Dundee side, this time away against table topping Gala down at Netherdale. Dundee kicked off, and that was just about the last time they saw the ball for the first 10 minutes, as Gala retained possession and repeatedly drove to good effect both in close and out wide. 2 Dundee penalties could have relieved the pressure, but a missed touch and a turnover handed possession straight back to the men in maroon. Somehow however Dundee kept their line intact, and eventually moved play back up to halfway. A bad tempered scrum there (not for the first time) resulted in an nasty off the ball incident involving Dundee’s hooker Angus Campbell and Gala’s No. 6 Josh Irvine, which saw the former leaving the game injured and the latter being shown a straight red, leaving Gala down to 14 men for the rest of the game. For Dundee, Kevin Franco moved in to cover at hooker and Hammy (Andrew Hamilton) came on in the back row.
Worryingly, Gala hardly seemed to notice their reduced numbers, and the one way traffic continued as before. As Gala drove repeatedly at the Dundee line, Kevin Franco took a team yellow, and Dundee continued to cling on by their fingertips. Ross Aitken stole Gala ball, but a knock on led to a Gala scrum, uncontested with both Dundee hookers for the time being sidelined. A good tackle by newcomer Kieran D’Eath once more held Gala up, but their next backs move proved decisive as a run around (with some suspicious midfield blocking) let the Gala No. 15 jog across the line almost unopposed, with stand off Dean Keddie adding the extras. 7 – 0 Gala after 20 minutes.
Dundee responded with their best spell of the game, handling well and incisively, and a threatening kick ahead was taken over the try line by the Gala defence for a scrum 5 metres out for Dundee. Dundee continued to press, and eventually 2nd row Angus Thomson touched down, well converted by captain Fraser McKay. 25 minutes gone, 7 all.
Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got for Dundee. In a game with far too many penalties, a steady slew now went against Dundee, which sapped their energies and frustrated their attacking efforts. Worse was to come; with half time fast approaching, No. 8 Gavin Hughan and flanker Ross Milne were injured in the same passage of play, both going off not to return, and a disrupted Dundee defence could not stop the big Gala No. 4 Chris Weir barging over for an unconverted try, making the half time score Gala 12, Dundee 7.
Dundee had brought on Cammy Anderson and Kelvin Nelson to replace Hughan and Milne, making for a completely new back row in the 2nd half against a Gala pack who had absorbed the loss of their red-carded flanker all too easily. Just as at the start of the 1st half, Gala attacked strongly, and in the 47th minute Keddie slotted an easy penalty to increase their lead. Dundee responded, and a good break by Kieran Scoular let Hammy away, but with no-one quite on his shoulder, his delayed pop-up pass was intercepted by the alert Keddie, and moments later Gala’s No. 11 Aiden Turner was touching down at the other end, after some weak midfield Dundee defence. A possible Dundee score had been turned into a converted try at the other end, and with the score now 22 – 7 for Gala, Dundee’s hopes were fast evaporating, not helped by our ongoing lineout struggles.
The last replacements on Dundee’s bench, Josh Steadwood and Paul Ritch, got an outing as three all-too-easy and at times scrappy scores were run up in the last quarter against a now tiring and outclassed Dundee side, with 1 conversion making it 39 – 7 for 14 man Gala. A late consolation try for Dundee through Kieran D’Eath made the final score a slightly more respectable 39 – 12, but overall this was not a good Dundee display. Our first 3 games have been against the 3 teams who are now top of the table, and now some less difficult games should lie ahead – ones that we must take advantage of.