Rugby Union: Isaac gains approval

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Gala. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Currie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

GALA kept alive the prospect of a title decider with neighbours Melrose, possibly on a midweek evening, after their biggest league win of the season had left the prop Gary Isaac with a satisfying glow.

The choice of Gala's Isaac for a place among Scotland's replacements has aroused controversy, not least because he is unproven at top representative level and has leap-frogged a rival, Grant Wilson of Boroughmuir, who has the backing of such an influential figure as the former Lion Iain Milne.

If Isaac had a point to prove he could scarcely have done so more emphatically and his powerful display earned the admiration of Currie's forward coach, Gordon Hurst, a former prop himself. 'Isaac did a lot of damage to our scrum. I was curious about him and he turned out to be a wee bit better than average,' Hurst said.

Currie had travelled to Netherdale as flavour of the month having picked up a club award for their performances in January. Overeagerness, though, cost a succession of penalties and five of Gala's six tries were directly attributable to mistakes.

Peter Dods, Gala's coach, admitted: 'We didn't have to look further than the match programme, which talked about Currie's recent exploits, for inspiration.'

If Gala and Melrose win their next matches the title will be at stake when they eventually meet - the scheduled date on 13 March coinciding with Scotland's sevens tour to Australia, Fiji and Hong Kong.

Gala, with three players involved, will be seeking a postponement and, because Border clubs have always refused to rearrange games for April Saturdays in deference to their sevens circuit, the climax to the league season may be moved to midweek.

Gala: Tries Townsened 2; Moncrieff, Dalgleish, Swann, Learmonth; Conversions Townsend 4; Penalties Townsend 3. Currie: Try Mack; Conversion Donaldson; Penalties Donaldson 2.

Gala: M Changleng; M Moncrieff, B Learmonth, B Swan, C Dalgleish; G Townsend, G Farquharson; G Isaac, I Corcoran (capt), H Hunter, J Laing, G Shepherd, M Ballantyne, N Crooks, J Amos.

Currie: D Wilson; A Robertson, M Tonkin, M Te Whaiti, G Millington; A Donaldson (capt), R Dickson; P Calder, G Ellis, D Clarke (J Stewart, 64), M Laugerson, C Carson, B Ward, D Mack, I Russell (J Clinkenbeard, 78).

Referee: R Clark (Stewart's/Melville).

Shannon's Michael Galwey will fill the vacancy left at No 8 in Ireland's team to play France in Dublin on Saturday. Out of the team is the blindside flanker Phil Lawlor, who had damaged a shoulder in a club match for Bective Rangers. His place goes to Pat O'Hara of Cork Constitution. France, meanwhile, have named an unchanged team.